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. GoodAtheist

    I am all for criticizing Islam. But, for goodness sake, please put some thought into your comments. Saying something false, exaggerated, hysterical or hateful just weakens your argument and makes you (and every other American) look like a moron. Put your thoughts together coherently. Islam is best fought with overwhelming displays of reason.

    August 30, 2010 at 12:08 am |
    • Tiger37229

      Too late I am afraid... There is already no doubt that many who have posted here are indeed morons...

      August 30, 2010 at 12:20 am |
  2. GoodAtheist

    Why was my last post put into moderation? Ironically, I was just advising my fellow posters to moderate their own comments.

    August 30, 2010 at 12:07 am |
  3. Amy

    I completely understand Americas hatred for this mosque but I find it really sad and insulting to America that so many people are having a problem with it. The beauty of America is that its a land where freedom of religion is in the first amendment. That is how much importance it has but we as Americans have forgotten this. Every day our men and women fight to protect this country and if we don't honor the America they fight for, its very insulting to their fight for the land of freedom and hope. This act of hate just proves that every religion/nation has extremists but we shouldn't hold everyone responsible for what a few ignorant people do. Read the following article, its inspiring but scary because it shows how intolerant America is compared to other countries.. http://www.zeropartypolitics.com/2010/08/ground-zero-synagoguelebanon-becoming.html

    August 30, 2010 at 12:06 am |
    • Kate


      I think you're confusing the mosque site in TN with the Center at Park51.

      Although you might understand the reason for the hatred, *I* don't. This is the perfect thing to give bin Laden a fit of screaming rage and throw yet another spanner into *his* highly developed propaganda machine, and instead America is behaving according to the lies he spreads to radicalize Muslims.

      It makes *no* sense, all it does is give him more ammunition – when the truth is all they'll be doing at Park51 is rebuilding the structure, it's already being used for prayer space!

      August 30, 2010 at 12:13 am |
  4. Baron Von Munchousen

    Phase one begins

    August 30, 2010 at 12:05 am |
    • Tiger37229

      Indeed! And lest everyone forgets, the ever brilliant Italians today, refused to recognize Islam as a religion, the repercussions of that brilliant stroke of idiocy have yet to be felt, but I am sure that it won't take long, and will unfortunately most likely result in the loss of many innocent Italian lives. Wise move that on their part. NOT!!!

      August 30, 2010 at 12:23 am |
  5. Baron Von Munchousen

    The building fund is off to a good start with international publicity. Those infidels will give us whatever we want for free.

    August 30, 2010 at 12:01 am |
  6. Rich

    Christians and Catholics along with other religions have perpetuated some heinous crimes and a lot of them in the name of God. That doesn't make all Christians bad. Same with Muslims or any religion.

    Judge not lest ye be judged.

    August 29, 2010 at 11:58 pm |
  7. DezRoo

    I support the "no more mosques" initiative. Next I would like to support the 'no more churches, sineguoges (sp?), temples, etc' initiative until the scourge of religion is wiped from the planet. The hypocrisy here is ridiculous. Anyone with half a brain can tell that ALL religions are... (I actually can't think of a negative enough term, maybe you can fill in your own...)

    August 29, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
    • Kate


      Umm, you *do* realize that on these comments, the phrase most people will fill in with is "wrong, except mine"?

      Just sayin'

      August 29, 2010 at 11:50 pm |
  8. Prof Ramesh C. Manghirmalani, Geneva

    Americans should be ashamed to call themselves as Democratic country, It is fundamental right under the constitution and right give by founding father how to pray and who to pray to. These fundamentalist are crazy without jobs , all they are looking for quick beer and 5 second sex.

    August 29, 2010 at 11:47 pm |
  9. Larry

    All Muslims are terrorists. Every single one of them.

    August 29, 2010 at 11:46 pm |
    • Tiger37229

      Larry, that is the most moronic thing I have read yet, does that make all Larry's Morons? By extension, if you are from Tennessee, does that then also apply to most Tennesseans? I hope not, but then I also hope we don't ever have to live by your idea of logic...

      August 30, 2010 at 12:27 am |
  10. no one important

    So a holy war on U.S. soil? Who didn't see this coming?

    August 29, 2010 at 11:44 pm |
  11. Terry

    An earth mover and some trucks burned; so has anyone thought about insurance fraud?

    August 29, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  12. Dawn Ada, Ohio

    Matt why do you think young people are shying away from religion in this country? Might it be that it is pure hypocrisy to read the teachings in the Bible and then turn around and act out the exact opposite. No doubt who ever torched this future site of the Mosque is a "Christian". Where in the Bible does it say to do this? Young people see the bigotry and hate that is in the hearts of many, many "Christians" in this Country. They see it on the news. They see it and hear it in their Churches. Seriously, why would they want to associate themselves with a Religion of hate and bigotry?

    August 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
    • Kate

      @Dawn Ada

      Not to mention looking at the Westboro Baptist Church and seeing the lack of condemnation by Christians. It seems like one form of extremism is "approved" and another isn't, but what kid wants to get dragged into the middle of that?

      Maybe the next generations will be the ones that save the world – after all, kids try hard not to be like their parents.

      Just sayin'

      August 29, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
    • GoodAtheist

      Buckeye Dawn,

      A lot of people are moving away from religion just because they see it as being silly to begin with, and, at least since 9/11, downright detrimental to humanity.

      August 29, 2010 at 11:49 pm |
    • Kate


      You also have people who aren't satisfied with what they get dumbed down in the media who go out and research on their own and it brings them closer to their religion too.

      Just sayin'

      August 29, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  13. PasadenaGuy

    Gee! I guess Murfreesboro is too close to "Ground Zero" as well.

    August 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
    • Peter J

      Very good point.......hope people understand that

      August 30, 2010 at 2:06 am |
  14. Iqbal Khan

    http://rediscover911.com/2010/03/was-america-attacked-by-muslims-on-911/ also check on google American Hegemony Time line u be shocked.......

    August 29, 2010 at 11:30 pm |
    • GoodAtheist

      إقبال خان, أنت غبي.

      August 29, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  15. PasadenaGuy

    Gee! I guess Murfreesboro is too to to "Ground Zero" as well.

    August 29, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
  16. Iqbal Khan


    August 29, 2010 at 11:29 pm |
    • GoodAtheist

      It is truly fascinating that conspiracy theories about the identity of the 9/11 terrorists persists, when we all saw what happened, and Al Qaeda itself proudly took full credit for its evil handiwork. It just proves that many people are just really dumb.

      August 29, 2010 at 11:40 pm |
  17. Iqbal Khan

    http://rediscover911.com/2010/03/was-america-attacked-by-muslims-on-911/ check it out and be shocked......

    August 29, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
    • GoodAtheist

      It is truly amazing that conspiracy theories about the identity of the 9/11 terrorists persist, when we all saw what happened, and Al Qaeda itself proudly took full credit for its evil handiwork. It just proves that many people are just really dum.

      August 29, 2010 at 11:51 pm |
  18. GoodAtheist

    Camie Ayash, the spokesperson for the mosque, said the congregation's children were full of "joy" that the mosque was being built. What child really wants to be stuck in a religious service when s/he could be out playing? If these kids were not being brainwashed from the age of zero, they would want nothing to do with Islam. Too bad this fire will not stop these parents from brainwashing their children. (This is not to say I support arson or any other violation of the laws.)

    August 29, 2010 at 11:28 pm |
  19. LostInTranslation

    Islam isn't bad, it's the radicals that have given it and Muslims a bad name. Are all blacks bad? There are penty who steal, rape, kill, and are overall ignorant. How about whites? Just because one wants to throw on there white pointy hat and robe, does that mean all white guys are racist?

    Sadly, ignorance and fear drive us all in making decisions. And sadly stereotypes exist for all people. In order for us to coexist and realize that there are too many uneducated, narrowminded, and ignorant people and not enough wildlife and animals we must realize that religion is there to ground us individually not to create diversity.

    But, our religions all seem to divide us when we should learn to respect the differences. Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism, Taoism, Islam, and others are all just a way for different people to live a good life.

    Do you all believe that there is truly 10 different creators bc of the color of YOUR skin?! Please get over yourselves and realize you and I are all insignificant in the grand scheme of things.

    Now, as long as this mosque is not propagating hate, then it should be supported and protected. As for the wanna be Lt Gov...what an imbecile!

    August 29, 2010 at 11:21 pm |
  20. jj20091991

    ever hear of the ku klux klan they were a buch of white christian americans does that make me part of the kkk NO!!! does that make the rest of us kkk NO!!! just because there muslim dnt make them terrorists

    August 29, 2010 at 11:20 pm |
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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.