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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. whatnext

    "Authorities told mosque officials that four pieces of heavy construction equipment on the site were doused with an accelerant and one set ablaze." We'll fix them. We'll torch equipment of a local employer.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
    • Rick

      That's about how much sense they have...

      August 29, 2010 at 9:56 pm |
  2. Rick

    This is what they do to unbelievers in the Christian bible – Numbers 31:15 "Have you allowed all the women to live?" he asked them. 16 "They were the ones who followed Balaam's advice and were the means of turning the Israelites away from the LORD in what happened at Peor, so that a plague struck the LORD's people. 17 Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, 18 but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man.

    What a sick religion.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  3. NK

    Many people died to defend the constitution and the bill of rights. Anyone opposed to builiding mosques/churches, etc is un-American

    August 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  4. Andy Wilson

    Actually this porperty is located next to a fairly new Bapt. church... located off a semi busy road at the edge of Murfreesboro. I saw the earth move equipment going last week and wondered when the commission passed the issue for the mosque plans. Evidently someone disgreed, and I dont agree wtih how this person or persons went about this. What they've done is damaged someone elsed property and maybe if caught someone will burn theirs down.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:47 pm |
  5. Chaiah

    This sickens me. Imo, every single person who is able to do so and wishes to support the Muslim community in Murfressboro, TN should head there. Christian, Jew, Muslim, Buhhdist, Agnostic, Atheist... and help them build their community center. My husband and I saw a piece The Daily Show did on this exact center just last week. Camie Ayash was interviewed by Aasif Mandvi. Those right wing nutjobs in TN are horrible. I cannot believe that this garbage is happening in OUR country in this day and age. Unbelievable. This just makes me angry. Oh, and TN Governor should be tarred and feathered for his assinine comments.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:46 pm |
    • Rick

      Agreed.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
  6. john

    seems to me like most people here agree the muslim religion is anti-america...so who exactly supports it and why are americans going to let it destroy america?

    August 29, 2010 at 9:44 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      John, I'm getting REALLY tired of your robot ranting.
      Tell me, if your mommy and daddy divorced, would she still be your sister?
      Or would dad demote her to your daughter again?

      August 29, 2010 at 10:05 pm |
    • Sane John

      If "most people" here agree that, most people here are idiots.

      August 30, 2010 at 7:35 am |
  7. Dooleeeoo

    Steve Berryman, of Frederick Maryland, would be proud. He was instrumental at attacking a similar project in Maryland about 2 years ago. He still brags about it. Newt Gincrinch should be indicted for inciting violence and religious hate crimes.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:42 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I'd say that Newt should be shot, but I don't like wasting bullets. They're more valuable than he is.
      I'll just sic his lesbian sister on him. Again.

      August 29, 2010 at 10:03 pm |
  8. WIDUKE

    Is this what Beck and Palin wanted? If they don't come out against it real quick
    Many tea baggers are going to think they gotz the green light

    August 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
  9. Tewrobert

    Let me tell you bleeding hearts something, I know I sound a bit hateful, But here is the bottom line.......Any of you smart enough to know whats happening in Europe? They are absolutely done, And once they get a foot hold here your all going to be done...They might be some good muslims. But there is always going to be the ones who twist things around just like you all are doing here......They will bring Car bombs, Human bombs, You name it, They are fixing to come and give America an education. These radicals are like a cancer, Dont think it will be any different here.....To destroy America is their biggest dream.....They are going to get your family and your kids and anything else they want........They gonna shove the Koran down your throat.......
    Think about me 10 0r 20 years down the line, It will be too late then for you and your family,,,
    You all can act white and nice if you want, ........You people are ate up with stupidity

    August 29, 2010 at 9:40 pm |
    • Chaiah

      "You people are ate up with stupidity"

      Well, folks, that about says it all, doesn't it?

      August 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm |
    • Carter Sherline

      If more people think like you American will have been destroyed, turned away from what Jefferson, Adams and Franklin intended, without a single bomb being needed.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:21 am |
    • Carter Sherline

      Just so it is clear...that was aimed at @Tewrobert.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:22 am |
    • John

      Yeah, the 0.6% of Americans who are Muslim will be overwhelming the remaining 99.4% of Americans any day now. Watch out!

      August 30, 2010 at 7:34 am |
  10. Mark rain

    I will continue to associate Muslims & Islam with murder & terror until Muslims & Islam do something meaningful to change my mind.

    Talk all you want but until these e-moms (yes, I spelled it my way) stand up against it I will continue to believe they are privately FOR Murder & Terror...in your heart you know I am right. They are not here to love but to take over.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • john

      its quoted the head of the e-mom for the proposed mosue in NYC was pro the 9/11 attacks!!!

      August 29, 2010 at 9:41 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Mark and John, we're only awaiting Luke...
      Wrong and wrong. Was hoping for three wrongs to strike you out.
      First, the imams HAVE condemned the attacks. Repeatedly. You just don't under the finder points of human conversation, LISTENING. *I* heard it all the way in the middle east where I was deployed. Since it is the same news channel we both seem to listen to, I have no idea HOW you didn't hear it over and over and over again.
      The imam "of the 9/11 mosque" did NOT applaud, condone or even approve of faintly, the 9/11 attacks. He condemned them. What he DID say was it was our fault because we trained bin Laden, which WE DID. I PERSONALLY know two of the agents who trained him. How? They trained me before they retired.
      So, what other lies do you wish to parrot like a good robot?
      Ignorance is strength?
      Peace is war?
      That was 1984, a book of warning, NOT an instruction guide.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:58 pm |
    • John

      If you don't think Muslims are speaking out against terror, and going out and fighting terror with their own blood and sacrifice on a regular basis, it's because you've got blinders on and your hands clamped over your ears.

      Islamic extremists have killed way more Muslims then they've killed anybody else.

      August 30, 2010 at 7:32 am |
  11. john

    How can a following which preaches HATE and MURDER be considered a religion? I say we ban all mosques!

    August 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Since you are an idiot robot who only listens to robot programming hate sites, I say ban all Johns.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:53 pm |
  12. tribe8r

    Fools. Comic fools. This place of worship was used in a comedy scene in a recent Jon Stewart's Daily Report. It was supposed to be a farce towards the other fools in NYC who are opposing the building of another place of worship.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:39 pm |
  13. mike

    I say we ban god in all terms and forms.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I say ban idiots in all forms. Mike is first.
      Euthanize them.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • Kate

      @mike

      Graffiti I read in a collation of such graffiti a long time ago (by Spike Milligan, for those of a literary curiosity):

      God is dead – Nietzsche
      Nietzsche is dead – God

      August 29, 2010 at 9:38 pm |
    • John

      Except I'd be willing to bet that God didn't write that himself.

      "Hey, a real person really wrote something with his own hand, so I'm gonna say that an imaginary person would have wrote something witty in response with his own hand, except it's my hand, because God isn't real."

      August 30, 2010 at 7:31 am |
  14. Rick

    Who are the animals?

    An enraged mob of Nigerian Christian youths has slaughtered dozens of Muslims in two days of rioting in the southern city of Onitsha.

    Rioting broke out in the lawless trading town on the banks of the Niger River yesterday when members of the Igbo tribe launched revenge attacks in response to an earlier massacre of Christians in the north of the country.

    [snip]

    Frank Nweke, a magazine editor who ran the gauntlet of the mob to escape Onitsha and made it to the bridge, said he had seen 15 more corpses lying in the streets of the city.

    "Some of them had been beheaded, others had had their genitals removed. I saw one boy holding a severed head with blood dripping from it," he said. (The Courier News [Australia])

    August 29, 2010 at 9:36 pm |
    • Abiodun

      The term terrorist is becoming cloudy, nowadays the muslims are becoming the peace loving individuals who get stabbed by christians and whose place of worship are being burned by christians, and whose holy books are burned by christians. its safe to say Christians are terrorist

      August 30, 2010 at 4:30 am |
      • Rick

        Not all Christians are, but I'll agree the fundamentalist Christians are just as bad as fanatical Muslims.

        August 30, 2010 at 7:40 am |
        • Reality

          A summary of our War on Terror:

          -Operation Iraqi Freedom- The 24/7 Sunni-Shiite centuries-old blood feud currently being carried out in Iraq, US Troops killed in action, 3,481 and 924 died in non-combat, 97,172 – 106,047 Iraqi civilians killed as of 8/10/2010 mostly due the Shiite and Sunni suicide bombers.

          – Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan: US troops 1,116 killed in action, 902 killed in non-combat situations as of 08/10/2010. Over 40,000 Afghan civilians killed due to the dark-age, koranic-driven Taliban acts of horror,

          – Sa-dd-am, his sons and major he-nchmen have been deleted. Sa-dd-am's bravado about WMD was one of his major mistakes. Kuwait was saved.

          – Iran is being been contained. (beside containing the Sunni-Shiite civil war in Baghdad, that is the main reason we are in Iraq. And yes, essential oil continues to flow from the region.)

          – Libya has become almost civil. Recently Libya agreed to pay $1.5 billion to the victims of their terrorist activities. Apparently this new reality from an Islamic country has upset OBL and his “cra-zies” as they have thre-atened Libya. OBL sure is a di-sgrace to the world especially the Moslem world!!! Or is he???

          – North Korea is still u-ncivil but is contained.

          – Northern Ireland is finally at peace.

          – The Jews and Palestinians are being separated by walls. Hopefully the walls will follow the 1948 UN accords. Unfortunately the Annapolis Peace Conference was not successful. And unfortunately the recent events in Gaza has put this situation back to “squ-are one”. And this significant stupidity is driven by the mythical foundations of both religions!!!

          – Bin La-d-en has been cornered under a rock in Western Pakistan since 9/11.

          – Fa-na–tical Islam has basically been contained to the Middle East but a wall between India and Pakistan would be a plus for world peace. Ditto for a wall between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

          – Timothy McVeigh was exe-cuted. Terry Nichols will follow soon.

          – Eric Ru-dolph is spending three life terms in pri-son with no par-ole.

          – Jim Jones, David Koresh, Kaczynski, the "nuns" from Rwanda, and the KKK were all dealt with and either eliminated themselves or are being punished.

          – Islamic Sudan, Dar-fur and So-malia are still terror hot spots.

          – The terror and tor-ture of Muslims in Bosnia, Kosovo and Kuwait were ended by the proper application of the military forces of the USA and her freedom-loving friends. Ra-dovan Karadzic was finally captured on 7/23/08 and is charged with genocide, crimes against humanity and violations of the law of war – charges related to the 1992-1995 civil war that followed Bosnia-Herzegovina's secession from Yugoslavia.

          – And of course the bloody terror brought about the Ja-panese, Na-zis and Co-mmunists was with great difficulty eliminated by the good guys.

          August 30, 2010 at 8:39 am |
  15. Muslimandproud

    Well, its the new America, full of hatred and violence, but whether you like it or no, we r just like the jews and hindus, and we will build mosques in every city where is a muslim community and burning them or the koran is no solution, but it will just show how ignorant and stupid and VIOLENT some americans are, and there is no different between them and the terorist that the U.S. millitary is fighting abroad. Wake up Midwest, this is not the 80s, this is 2010...

    August 29, 2010 at 9:35 pm |
    • Rick

      I'm a white Christian in a rural community and I support your Mosques because I support the US Constitution. Shame on the people who don't. THEY need to find another country to live in where they'll be happier with the form of government and it's lack of freedom.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      I'm Christian and proud. Not at what has become of my formerly great nation in my absence due to deployment to the Persian Gulf for the war, a nation of thugs and a larger populace who regards it as someone elses problem, but for what it once stood for.
      A nation of freedom. Freedom to speak, in a responsible manner. Freedom to actually be permitted to practice the religion of choice. Freedom to do nearly anything you wish to do.
      Now, we have a nation of thugs ruling by terror. I frankly see no REAL difference between the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan and here, save the higher number of RPG's and explosives.
      Mosques are burning, mosques are actively being blocked from being built, Muslims are being harassed in the streets.
      What is this, Nazi Germany?
      America, you are making me ashamed to call myself an American.
      After 27+ years in uniformed service to this nation, I've buried more than my fair share of buddies in the course of service to this nation. What do I hear while I'm deployed? Several buddies who died in action had their final services protested with signs stating it was GOOD that they were dead!
      Americans burning religious buildings of people we're trying to steer to moderate religion, over the extremist type that attacked us.
      And what is the result? Americans sabotaging our best efforts. Americans doing their UTMOST to undermine EVERY understanding we had and were trying to build.
      Americans who are basically putting a fluorescent orange sign on our chests saying SHOOT RIGHT HERE!
      Thanks for the extra effort, America.
      Please, stay off of my side from now on. My world is dangerous enough without your "help".
      My PERSONAL experience of Muslims has been highly positive, other than extremists. Community involvement is FAR greater than ours. Honesty is valued.
      Integrity is a way of life, unlike what we're seeing now, where too many Americans can't even SPELL it!
      So, stay off of my side. I have enough enemies without your helping them!

      August 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
  16. Wzrd1

    Willie Pete a Mike a day, preserve our nation!

    August 29, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
    • Kate

      @Wzrd1

      Wasting ordnance again? 😛

      August 29, 2010 at 10:55 pm |
      • Wzrd1

        Why not? My wife is in menopause, so it's all the same thing.
        Wasted ordinance. 😉

        August 29, 2010 at 10:59 pm |
        • Kate

          @Wzrd1

          Better than dry fire drills 🙂

          Just sayin'

          August 29, 2010 at 11:03 pm |
        • Wzrd1

          There is a bit of snow on the roof, but plenty of fire in the furnace! 😀

          August 29, 2010 at 11:13 pm |
        • Kate

          @Wzrd1

          As long as you don't need a heat tab to get it going 🙂

          August 29, 2010 at 11:23 pm |
  17. Mark rain

    Manipulation! Thru emotion based stories and amplified "feelings" of poor children, who honestly don't know or care about a damn mosk, the left paint this ongoing picture of the "injustice" perpetrated on them, when the whole time it is their insidious plan that should be exposed...they probably set the fire themselves to further manipulate the weakminded, guilt gulping & evil American press.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:28 pm |
    • Howie

      and I bet you think the holocaust didn't happen either

      all you conspiracy nuts are the same.

      August 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm |
    • Lee Oates

      Your one sick puppy.

      August 30, 2010 at 3:59 am |
  18. marty

    If there are good Moslems and bad ones why are'nt the good one speaking out against this bs

    August 29, 2010 at 9:26 pm |
  19. Matt

    I live close to where this happened. I am not against Muslims building an Islamic center anywhere it is legal, but there are extraordinarily few Muslims in this area. It's a little strange that they want to build a huge center out here. I also think you can't read too much into this incident. Someone doused a piece of machinery probably with gasoline or diesel fuel and torched the thing. It could easily have been some kid who wanted to impress his buddies. Not that we should all go burning stuff up, I'm not saying that at all. But we shouldn't make this into something larger than it is. Whoever did it should be caught and punished.

    I am scared for the future of Christians on this planet. Young adults of Christian families are increasingly non-religious and even anti-religious while young adults of Muslim families seem to be increasingly strong in their faith.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:23 pm |
    • Howie

      Why are you afraid? You should be happy people are less religious, it shows they are becoming more educated and less likely to stoop down to the level of believing a 2000 year old fairy tale

      if anything we should be hoping everyone gets less religious, not just christians

      August 29, 2010 at 9:49 pm |
  20. Dennis

    Anyone want to bet is was one of those "religion of peace" believers, you know- Christians.

    August 29, 2010 at 9:20 pm |
    • Wzrd1

      Wouldn't want to bet even a penny. Cash is tight right now...

      August 29, 2010 at 9:37 pm |
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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.