Jun 18 2010
For the second time in two months, in Murfreesboro, a mosque is facing opposition from local residents who don’t want the monster-sized mosque constructed in their small, farming community.
With a growing Muslim community in Rutherford County, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro wants to build on Veals Road. The project done in phases could take years to finish: a 52,000-square-foot mosque, with a community center and athletic fields.
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“I believe this has been approved and run through without public notice,” resident Kevin Fisher said. “Why have a mosque nine times the size of Nashville’s in the middle of a farming, residential community?”
Last month, plans for a separate mosque in Brentwood were soundly defeated when residents who were against rezoning the land mounted a campaign that raised suspicions about the mosque and its leaders. Opponents encouraged residents to write letters to the city commission, and stirred more controversy by questioning links to terrorist groups.
The Muslim community is confused over the opposition. They have been good neighbors and residents in Rutherford County, they said. “No one really comes out to speak against people, using traffic, which is malleable, to manipulate to the detriment of those applying for the property,” he said.
Delbert Ketner, a retired resident who opposes the mosque, questions the goals of those who practice Islam.
“If their goal is to advance Islam, advance their culture, then there is no real affection for our Constitution and the precepts we were founded on,” Ketner said.
Imam Ossama Bahloul wants to dispel any worries, and said any disagreements should be worked out. He had to answer tough questions from his own as well. A child asked, “Why do they hate us?” (Oh, please, don’t get me started)
When they announced their plans to build their dream facility, they also invited residents. They didn’t expect a backlash. Now they are answering to rumors of polygamy, Islamic doctrine and whether they will adhere to the U.S. Constitution, said Essam Fathy, a physical therapist who has lived in Murfreesboro since the 1980s.
“We have nothing to hide,” Fathy said. “We do not have a hidden agenda. We’re not affiliated with anyone. Where is the tolerance?” (TOLERANCE? When you let us build churches or synagogues in your Muslim countries, we’ll consider your request)
Muslims need room (Saudi Arabia has lots of room) Fathy said the Muslim community, with 250 families, has outgrown its digs at 862 Middle Tennessee Blvd. (Who cares?) TENNESSEAN H/T herr OLAY