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August 29th, 2010
08:06 PM ET

Feds investigate fire at site of future Tennessee mosque

A fire at the future site of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, is under investigation but "you can reasonably make the assumption" that it was arson, an FBI spokesman told CNN Sunday.

"The evidence is being analyzed to see what the origin of the fire was," Keith Moses, an assistant special agent with the FBI in Nashville, told CNN Sunday. "We have to follow the facts."

The fire, which struck early Saturday morning at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is under investigation by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office.

The fire consumed an earth mover and damaged three other vehicles, according to Camie Ayash, a spokesperson for the mosque. Ayash said that the Mufreesboro Fire Department told her that the vehicles had been doused with an accelerant.

Accelerants are substances that help start or spread fires.

A call to the Mufreesboro Fire Department on Sunday evening was not answered.

"It really put fear into the community," Ayash said.

"Our children are heartbroken," she said. "When we broke ground a few weeks ago, they could see the new Islamic center as something that was tangible, something that was going to happen."

"Now someone had so much hatred to rip the joy out of their hearts," she said.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has existed in the Murfreesboro area for over a decade, according to its website, and currently meets about a mile from the site of the future mosque.

The congregation purchased a 15-acre plot in 2009 and announced plans for a center that will include a mosque, educational facilities, a gym, cemetery, and various recreational areas, including tracks, pavilions and a playground.

The project has provoked controversy in Murfreesboro, about 35 miles southeast of Nashville, and statewide.

In July, several hundred opponents of the mosque staged a march against the project. Some objected to Islam itself, carrying signs like "MOSQUE LEADERS SUPPORT KILLING CONVERTS," while others opposed the project for environmental reasons.

Last month, Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey publicly criticized the project. "You could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or is it a nationality, way of life, a cult, whatever you want to call it," Ramsey, then a candidate for Tennessee governor, said at a rally.

Ramsey placed third in Tennessee's Republican primaries earlier this month.

- CNN Belief Blog Co-Editor

Filed under: Houses of worship • Mosque • Tennessee • United States

soundoff (413 Responses)
  1. technology

    I will be interested and enthusiastic about what you will be covering below. technology http://winanipad3x.com/

    April 9, 2013 at 5:12 am |
  2. Kate

    Anderson Cooper segment about the Murfreesboro Mosque

    http://cnn.com/video/?/video/bestoftv/2010/09/01/ac.mosque.burning.guests.cnn

    September 1, 2010 at 10:38 am |
  3. AGA

    If your interested in getting down to know the real Islam then http://www.whyislam.org is the place for you? :)

    August 31, 2010 at 10:46 pm |
  4. Mark from Middle River

    And still with all the evils my church and countless others do so much good in the community. But, please continue to define Christians by the actions of a handfull of folks.

    Maybe one day I will list that so much evil is done by the white members of society.... make a list like Reality and then forget about my best friend and a ton of other whites that I have known in my life.

    I love tearing the wings off of Reality.

    August 31, 2010 at 2:42 pm |
  5. Mark from Middle River

    It more looks like ultra liberal and "forward" thinking northerners were getting tired of having their mosque issue being front and center as a news issue. Some part of them must have been going out of their minds that it was not a republican state that was having such issues. Sorta like when prop8 cleared in California.

    So we find the media focusing in not on a mosque burning down but the site valdalized? Good grief .... If any of the CNN writers or editors have ever worked on any construction site they would know that this happens. It happens often enough that budozers and other heavy equipment come with steel panels from the factory to protect them from damage.

    Oh no ...... Liberal democrats of New York, the Muslim conflict this day is all yours.

    August 30, 2010 at 10:56 pm |
  6. Historian

    As for the story and a majority of the postings (on both sides) You can't fix stupid.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:21 pm |
  7. oneStarman - Walla Walla, WA

    KRISTALLNACHT "the Night of Broken Glass." Nazi youth broke windows of Jewish businesses and homes, and burned synagogues. Jews were attacked and beaten. 26,000 Jews were arrested and sent to concentration camps. On a recent Sunday morning National TV show a representative of the Manhattan Jewish Community Center appeared with someone from the Islamic Center that is to be built nearby. She told us that the the groups were now working together because; she said, " We have seen this before – we recognize this kind of Hate – it is just like the NAZIS in 1939."

    August 30, 2010 at 11:10 am |
  8. Kolh

    The US government should do everything in its power to stop terrorists – including fundamentalist Christians who use terror and intimidation to scare innocent citizens from exercising their constitutional right to practice their religion.

    August 30, 2010 at 11:06 am |
  9. Britt

    Being from Tennessee, I would just like to say please don't put all Tennesseans in the same category. Not all of us are close-minded racist rednecks. I love the state I live in, but some Tennesseans really give us a bad name. If they want to add on to their mosque, let them. This is coming from a Christian. Thanks, that is all. :)

    August 30, 2010 at 10:20 am |
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About this blog

The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.