Tennessee Mosque Attack

EnrightI dont think there’s any way you can argue that there’s not a heightened anti-muslim sentiment in this country in the wake of the manufactured controversy over the so-called 911 mosque. Since the big protest in New York last week, I know of at least two violent attacks. First, there was the stabbing of New York cab driver Ahmed Sharif, by 21 year old film student Michael Enright (pictured right). Enright, as you’ve probably heard by now, asked Sharif if he was Muslim before the attack. Sharif responded that he was, at which point Enright began stabbing him in his throat. Then, yesterday, construction equipment was set ablaze at the site of an Islamic Center being built in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Following is more from CBS News:

…Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said….

“We unfortunately did not experience hostilities for the 30 years we’ve been here and have only seen the hostility since approval of the site plan for the new center,” said Sbenaty.

Opponents of a new Islamic center say they believe the mosque will be more than a place of prayer; they are afraid the 15-acre site that was once farmland will be turned into a terrorist training ground for Muslim militants bent on overthrowing the U.S. government.

“They are not a religion. They are a political, militaristic group,” Bob Shelton, a 76-year-old retiree who lives in the area, told The Associated Press.

Shelton was among several hundred demonstrators who recently wore “Vote for Jesus” T-shirts and carried signs that said “No Sharia law for USA!,” referring to the Islamic code of law…

“No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers said to WTVF. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”

Leaving aside for the moment the fact that this country was very deliberately not “based on Christianity,” I find it more than just a little disconcerting that these things are happening on top of one another now, after a long and heated summer of irresponsible fear-mongering on the part a growing minority on the right. Among those fanning the flames of xenophobia was none other than Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, not far from Murfreesboro. Here’s a clip from Think Progress:

…On July 14, Tennessee’s Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R), who is a Tea Party-backed candidate for governor, spoke about the planned Islamic Center to a group of Republicans. He said he opposed the project because it might bring “Sharia Law” into the state and wondered whether Islam might be some sort of cult…

For what it’s worth, for them to force Sharia law on the people of Murfreesboro, I think they probably need to exceed the 1:200 mosque-to-church ratio they presently enjoy.

If Murfreesboro sounds familiar, it might be because the Daily Show just visited there a few days ago, to find out why people were opposed to this particular Islamic center. (Weren’t we told that the only reason the mosque in NYC was being objected to was because of its proximity to ground zero?) If you haven’t seen the episode, you can check it out here… I particularly liked the woman who stated very matter-of-factly that Muslims presently operate 35 terrorist training camps within the boundaries of the United States. (She’d read it on the internet.)

So, we’ll have to wait and see what happens. My guess, though, is that the burning of equipment in Murfreesboro won’t be identified as an act of terrorism by U.S. officials, although it was clearly done with the intention of terrorizing these men and woman… White people, it would seem, are incapable of such things.

I should add that I know very little about the Muslim community of Murfeesboro. I don’t know how radical they are, if at all. As I haven’t heard of women being stoned to death for adultery in Tennessee, though, my guess is that they’re decent hard-working people who obey our laws, and, as such, should have the same freedom that the rest of us enjoy. There’s one thing that I’m absolutely certain of, though — the non-Muslim men and women of Tennessee who were interviewed by the Daily Show and other media outlets are an embarrassment to our country and a testament to the fact that our schools are failing. This, my friends, is what happens when you systematically dismantle the public school system, destroy the middle class, demonize the educated and spread fear among the people.

One last thing… The people of FOX News and the men behind the Tea Partyfication of American politics will, if things continue as they are, soon have blood on their hands. I would encourage them to give this fact serious thought. I imagine there’s some part of them that knows that a line has been crossed, and my hope is that they listen to that part before they do irreparable harm to this democracy for which so many good men and women have given their lives.

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  1. Peter Larson
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 5:39 am | Permalink

    The people who burned the construction site are true patriots. True American heroes.

    Why the fuck do I live in this country?

    This is a great post, Mark.

  2. Knox
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 6:25 am | Permalink

    If it were the other way around, and a Muslim man had stabbed a white cab driver in the neck after asking if he were Christian, or if Muslims had set fires at the construction site of a church, you can bet that there would be 24/7 coverage on Fox News.

  3. EOS
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 7:19 am | Permalink

    Not true Mark,

    This country was indeed very deliberately based on Christianity. Not only did the Declaration of Independence acknowledge God, but also reiterated that individual rights come from God, and our Constitution was instituted to protect our God-given rights. The majority of the signers of the Constitution were Christians and 11 of the 13 original colonies recognized specific Christian denominations as state endorsed religions. The constitutions of all 50 states acknowledge God.

    Patrick Henry boldly declared: ” It cannot be emphasized too strongly that this great nation was founded, not by religionists, but by Christians; not on religions, but on the Gospel of Jesus Christ. For this very reason peoples of other faiths have been afforded asylum, prosperity and freedom of worship here.”

    Likewise, the Constitution of the United States was drafted so as to be in accordance with the Scriptures, to be the legal foundation of a republican form of government based on that model which God had ordained for the children of Israel. Thomas Jefferson even suggested that the national seal be a portrayal of “the children of Israel in the wilderness, led by a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.”

  4. dragon
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 7:31 am | Permalink

    “No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Sam-I-Am said to WTVF.
    He went on to say…

    I do not like them kneeling down
    I do not like them when they’re brown

    I do not like them when when they pray
    I do not like them when they’re gay

    I do not want them here or there
    I do not want them anywhere

  5. Edward
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 8:20 am | Permalink

    My hat is off to you, Sir Dragon. Well played.

    As for this mosque attack, I think it clearly illustrates that the events in Manhattan had nothing to do with “sensitivity” as the protesters claimed, and everything to do with racism. It wasn’t that the complex was upsetting to the families of the 9/11 victims, as it was to be located a few blocks from ground zero. It was that Muslims were building a mosque. What happened in Murfreesboro was inevitable.

  6. Peter larson
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 8:44 am | Permalink

    Religious freedom only applies to bigots.

  7. Tim
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:02 am | Permalink

    I thought we covered this in grade school.

    Thomas Jefferson:

    Believing with you that religion is a matter which lies solely between man and his god, that he owes account to none other for his faith or his worship, that the legitimate powers of government reach actions only, and not opinions, I contemplate with sovereign reverence that act of the whole American people which declared that their “legislature” should “make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” thus building a wall of separation between church and State. Adhering to this expression of the supreme will of the nation in behalf of the rights of conscience, I shall see with sincere satisfaction the progress of those sentiments which tend to restore to man all his natural rights, convinced he has no natural right in opposition to his social duties.


  8. God
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:15 am | Permalink

    I should have known giving man “free will” was a mistake.

    As I have said before – Christianity is a cult. It just happens to be a well funded, well organized cult with nutjob followers like EOS. To all fundamentalists: you have been drinking too much kool-aid.

    I hath spoken….

  9. Lorie Thom
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:21 am | Permalink

    deism dude, deism

  10. EOS
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:34 am | Permalink


    The quote of Jefferson you posted is not a part of any government documentation. It is a paragraph taken out of context from a personal letter from Jefferson to the Danbury Baptist Church. It was one of several letters Jefferson wrote to reassure that church that while the federal government could not interfere with the free practice of religion, there were no restrictions that could be placed on religion to prevent them from interfering or influencing their government. How else could the last sentence of your excerpt be interpreted? I like how Jefferson, an elected official of the Federal governmen,t ended this letter:

    I reciprocate your kind prayers for the protection & blessing of the common father and creator of man, and tender you for yourselves & your religious association, assurances of my high respect & esteem.

  11. Tim
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 9:56 am | Permalink

    And what government document did your Patrick Henry quote come from, EOS?

  12. Meta
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:49 am | Permalink

    Great Onion headline.

    “Man Already Knows Everything He Needs To Know About Muslims”

    “And now they want to build a mosque at Ground Zero,” continued Gentries, eliminating any distinction between the 9/11 hijackers and Muslims in general. “No, I won’t examine the accuracy of that statement, but yes, I will allow myself to be outraged by it and use it as evidence of these people’s universal callousness toward Americans who lost loved ones when the Twin Towers fell.”

    “Even though I am not one of those people,” he added.

    When told that the proposed “Ground Zero mosque” is actually a community center two blocks north of the site that would include, in addition to a public prayer space, a 500-seat auditorium, a restaurant, and athletic facilities, Gentries shook his head and said, “I know all I’m going to let myself know.”


  13. EOS
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 10:59 am | Permalink

    Good point Tim. The Declaration of Independence and the Constitution both support my argument and stand independent of Patrick Henry’s great quote.

  14. Peter larson
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    People are being terrorized and marginalized due to their choice of religious practices. Regardless of any archaic arguments over constitutional law, treating people in such a manner is simply wrong. Just fucking wrong.

  15. Posted August 30, 2010 at 12:19 pm | Permalink

    I see your claims about the USA being a Christian nation and raise the bet with a few links and quotes.


    I really enjoy it when people interpret, reinterpret the meaning of the words of a bunch of centuries dead white men to fit their particular twisted world view.

  16. Robert
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    …and as EOS and I both know, any reference to “God” is a reference to the Christian God only. When you say God in other languages you are not talking about the real God. Until Muslims learn to use the English word for God we can’t trust ’em.

  17. Peter larson
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:08 pm | Permalink

    It is extremely telling that Eos has not condemned the actions in mufreesboro, but rather gone out on a tangent of state sanctioned Christian superiority.

  18. Ted
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:32 pm | Permalink

    But it’s their fault. They provoke us with their existence.

  19. EOS
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:40 pm | Permalink

    Sorry Peter, thought it was self-evident. Murder and arson are wrong. I hereby condemn them under any circumstance. I think Mosques should be allowed to be built anywhere they want them . I don’t have a problem with a mosque at ground zero or Murfreesboro.

  20. Peter larson
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Then I am mistaken. My apologies.

  21. Robert
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:54 pm | Permalink

    Those terrorists sure do a lot of training. They seem to be training constantly and have training camps everywhere. You know, you can overtrain. Terrorist training is like Gold’s Gym for these guys. I think they might just be training to impress each other, but don’t actually intend to do anything.

  22. Robert
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 1:59 pm | Permalink

    …I mean damn, how much training do you need to shoot up a cafateria.

    I’ll bet there is a lot of gay sex going on at these training camps.

  23. God
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 2:37 pm | Permalink

    EOS: do you not have a sanctimonious reply to those quotes which which make your so piddly by comparison…? What of that Heathen “Robert” that implies there are other gods than than Me – the Christian GOD….

    How darest thou not defend Me….

  24. Dirtgrain
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    Zenhell is a cool name for a website.

  25. Toby McNut
    Posted August 30, 2010 at 3:49 pm | Permalink

    Does anyone else think the guy at the top of the post looks like a young Mark Maynard?

    And since Robert brought it up, I think most fundamentalist nut cases who blow stuff up are closeted gay men. You cannot tell me that Mohamed Atta wasn’t. I won’t believe you. And I know that if he lived in a culture that didn’t stone men to death for sucking cock that a lot of people would still be alive today.

  26. Robert
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 7:43 am | Permalink

    Violence is the externalization of internal conflict. It is in the best interest of all that those who want to suck cock not only be allowed to, but that they be encouraged and even praised for doing it. BJs save lives.

  27. Edward
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 8:36 am | Permalink

    Say no to suicide bombing.
    Say yes to same-sex blowing.

  28. God
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    I agree – homosexual behavior has been observed in just about all of my divine creatures. Humans are the only species of animal that make some prohibition against homosexuality. Once again humans have written their own rules in direct opposition to nature – and look what it leads to; hatred (self and others) and violence.

    EOS: would you like to suck my holy sceptre?

  29. Meta
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 10:26 am | Permalink

    Form the Center for American Progress:

    The Hate Turns Violent
    For months, the right wing has been leading a hateful campaign against the proposed Park 51 Islamic community center that will be built two blocks from Ground Zero in New York City. Many prominent conservatives like disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have even gone as far as to claim that Park 51 will act as a launching pad for the introduction of “Sharia law” to America. These top conservatives have claimed that they aren’t opposed to all mosques, but rather just one near Ground Zero. Gingrich, for example, said he would not be offended by a mosque near Central Park or Columbia University. However, the culture of hate these right wingers are fomenting against Muslims is spreading all over the country. Mosques in locations as far apart as Madera, CA, and Murfreesboro, TN have faced hateful protests and angry threats. And unfortunately, in recent weeks, the hate has turned violent. Between a violent attack on a Muslim cab driver in New York City and an arson attempt against a mosque in the heart of the American South, the far right’s toxic rhetoric is start ing to have very real, very dangerous consequences.

    HATE-INSPIRING RHETORIC: In campaigning against Park 51 and other mosques across the country, conservatives have escalated their rhetoric to hateful levels. Gingrich compared building Park 51 to the Nazis putting a sign next to the Holocaust museum in Washington, D.C. Former Bush adviser Karl Rove compared the organizers of Park 51 to “skinheads” showing “up at a Black sorority convention” and screaming bigoted remarks and to “Neo-Nazis” showing up “at the B’na B’rith hotel and” having “their meeting in the next meeting room.” Hate radio host Neal Boortz earlier this month called Islam a “gutter religion” and a “cult.” Boortz may be picking up his smear against Islam from Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R), who openly wondered aloud about whether Islam is “actually a religion or is it a nationality, way or life, or cult, whatever you want to call it.” The American Family Association’s Director of Issues Analysis Bryan Fischer even went as far as to say that the United States should have “no more mosques, period” because each “mosque is dedicated to the overthrow of the American government.” The rhetoric of these major conservative figures stands in stark contrast to President Bush’s rhetoric following the 9/11 attacks. The former president said just “days after the Twin Towers were destroyed in 2001” that “the face of terror is not the true faith of Islam. … Islam is peace. These terrorists don’t represent peace.”

    HATE TURNED VIOLENT: When a minority group like Muslim Americans are demonized in this fashion, it is only a matter of time before paranoid individuals turn to violence. This past May, a pipe bomb was set off at the site of a protested Jacksonville, FL mosque. Early this month, a playground at an Arlington, TX mosque was torched. Last week, Bangladeshi-American New York City cab driver Ahmed Sharif picked up an intoxicated 21-year-old man. The man, Michael Enright, began to ask Sharif questions about his personal life. At one point, Enright asked Sharif, “Are you Muslim?” When Sharif replied that he was, Enright replied with the Muslim greeting, “Assalamu alaikum,” then yelled, “Consider this a checkpoint!” and stabbed and slashed Sharif with his knife, leading to his hospitalization. Reports later revealed that Enright had served in Afghanistan with an NGO and kept a diary filled with anti-Muslim rhetoric. Sharif, who had been in the U.S. for more than 25 years, suggested to the press that the toxic debate surrounding Park 51 was endangering Muslims in the city. The week before the attack in New York, a brick was thrown at a window of a mosque in Madera, CA. Outside the premises, vandals put up a pair of signs: “Wake up America, the enemy is here” and “No temple for the god of terrorism.” And this past Friday, a suspected arsonist set fire to part of the construction site at a Murfreesboro, TN mosque. Since then, “Muslim leaders in central Tennessee say that frightened worshipers are observing Ramadan in private and that some Muslim parents are wary of sending their children to school.”

    HATE’S LASTING EFFECTS: This combination of hateful rhetoric from the right’s leaders and the rise in hate crimes against Muslims unfortunately serves to undermine both Muslim Americans’ image at home and America’s image abroad. A Time Magazine poll released earlier this month found 61 percent of Americans oppose the construction of Park 51. Even more disturbingly, only 44 percent of Americans held a favorable view of Muslim Americans. Only 55 percent of respondents “said they would favor the construction of an Islamic community center and mosque two blocks from their home.” Almost one-third of respondents thought Muslims should be barred from running for president, and 24 percent of them mistakenly believed that President Obama is a Muslim. There is also evidence that the rise in hatred against Muslims here in the United States is serving to alienate and radicalize Muslims abroad. A Taliban operative going by the name Zabihullah told Newsweek that, by “preventing [Park 51] fro m being built, America is doing us a big favor.” He explained that the anti-mosque campaign is providing the Taliban with “more recruits, donations, and popular support.” Another Taliban official who “remains active in the insurgency” in Afghanistan told the magazine that he expects the anti-mosque campaigns to provoke a “new wave of terrorist trainees from the West,” similar to suspected Times Square car bomber Faisal Shahzad. Zabihullah concludes, the “more mosques you stop, the more jihadis we will get.” The irony behind the far right’s campaign against peaceful Muslims is that Muslim Americans have actually been acting as a bulwark against extremism. Researchers at Duke University and the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill concluded in a study earlier this year that contemporary mosques in the United States serve as a deterrent to Islamic radicalism. A handful of conservatives have pushed back against the far right’s rhetoric, however. Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX) said that the anti-Park 51 campaign is “all about hate and Islamophobia.” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) said he’d be “the first to stand up for [Muslims’] rights” to build a mosque near Ground Zero. Yet, as the American Prospect’s Adam Serwer writes, “Park 51 opponents have been remarkably quiet about [anti-Muslim] incidents. … Either Park 51 opponents don’t care about the larger anti-Muslim backlash, or they don’t want to be seen defending American Muslims in any context.”

  30. Meta
    Posted August 31, 2010 at 11:15 am | Permalink

    Essam Fathy, chairman of the planning committee for the mosque, said he has lived in the city about 25 miles southeast of Nashville for almost 30 years and has never run into problems with his faith until now. He’s concerned that outsiders could be involved.

    “I don’t think this is coming out of Murfreesboro,” he said. “There were no issues at any time, even after 9/11, there were no issues. It just seems like there’s a movement in the United States against Islam.”


  31. Benito
    Posted September 2, 2010 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

    I hope that every American, regardless of where he lives, will stop and examine his conscience about this and other related incidents. This Nation was founded by men of many nations and backgrounds. It was founded on the principle that all men are created equal, and that the rights of every man are diminished when the rights of one man are threatened. All of us ought to have the right to be treated as he would wish to be treated, as one would wish his children to be treated, but this is not the case.

    I know those opposing the NY Community Center continue to say that that the majority supports them, but as history has taught us the majority is not always right. Would women or non-whites have the vote if we listen to the majority of the day, would the non-whites have equal rights (and equal access to churches, housing, restaurants, hotels, retail stores, schools, colleges and yes water fountains) if we listen to the majority of the day? We all know the answer, a resounding, NO!

    Today we are committed to a worldwide struggle to promote and protect the rights of all who wish to be free. In a time of domestic crisis men of good will and generosity should be able to unite regardless of party or politics and do what is right, not what is just popular with the majority. Some men comprehend discrimination by never have experiencing it in their lives, but the majority will only understand after it happens to them.

  32. Painted Desert
    Posted September 4, 2010 at 2:08 am | Permalink

    Robert, are you trying to say that the people who work out at Gold’s Gym don’t use those big, burly muscles for other stuff like lifting heavy corn bales on the farm in Oklahoma and grapelling and fighting vicious tigers to save little babies and for fending off would-be suitors from their potential mates and clotheslining and arm-barring and deflecting foreign objects in the trunks of their villainous rivals and flying like a crazed, rabid, flaming, homosexual water buffalo from the top rope onto their opponent on the mat in the squared circle?
    Is that what you are trying to say? Because I don’t believe it for one minute.

  33. Kim
    Posted September 6, 2010 at 9:29 pm | Permalink

    I wasn’t going to comment on anything tonight, but I just read these comments by a Tea Party leader, joking about the murder of gays, and I couldn’t help myself. I had to share them.


    Posted October 13, 2010 at 5:33 pm | Permalink


  35. Ted T
    Posted June 26, 2011 at 8:16 pm | Permalink

    This is the worst article on the Tennessee Mollusk Attack that I have ever seen.

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