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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. ahetch

    To all Taliban and Al Qaeda: Save your bombs and bullets, we are destroying this country all on our own.

    August 30, 2010 at 3:26 am |
  2. Nik Green

    Pretty standard fare in racist southern USA. The war against Islam has come home, and will get worse, and it is the hate-inspired positions of the US Government, the corporate media, and the hardline Israeli lobby which are pouring gasoline onto the trend towards anti-muslim terrorism and crime.

    August 30, 2010 at 3:17 am |
  3. Che

    Muslims are being scape goated for the inevitable displacement of American supremacy/hegemony in the world by none other then the hubris and belligerence of right wing christian fundamentalists and the perennial fifth column in US, i.e. Israel-firster zionists...

    August 30, 2010 at 3:12 am |
  4. Jack

    stop the hate..white devils!!!!!

    August 30, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  5. D

    and so it begins

    August 30, 2010 at 3:11 am |
  6. jbc

    If i recall correctly, many germans went to prison camps, for hiding the jews. all germans were not extremists. Isn't fear the reason we become so angry? and when anger becomes an emotion, doesn't it become hatred? and if hatred is unchecked, isn't that how the extremist is born? we need to be careful.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:59 am |
  7. Khaled Anntar

    CNN was among the other News Channels (Including Fox News) that attacked Islam and Muslims after 9/11 and broadcast erroneous and poisonous documentary about Islam quoting verses from Quran that urge Muslims to kill non-Muslims. The verses were taken out of contexts and intentionally misinterpreted and misunderstood to portray Muslims as violent and intolerant. All this has helped portray a negative image of Islam that helped create hatred and feelings of disgust of Islam with many Americans. It is the duty of the CNN to start making a documentary that shows the amount of hatred and racisim that Muslims have been subjected throughout the history of Muslims existence in the US, starting from the Holywood movies that depicted Arabs and Muslims as savages long before 9/11. 9/11 does not represent Islam and the crusade wars do not represent Christianity. US will sooner or later be controlled by the new Talibans (Conservatives and Republicans). I see no difference between Republicans and the Taliban or the Iranian Regime....

    August 30, 2010 at 2:59 am |
  8. Che

    I hope FBI also monitors the hate being spewed here...and shame on CNN for allowing the filth to be posted without any censoring...

    August 30, 2010 at 2:53 am |
    • Jackson

      Sorry, but that's freedom of speech.

      September 2, 2010 at 11:15 pm |
  9. Che

    All the ignorant idiots spewing their hate are a bunch of cowards...for all that they believe in, i.e. Islam is evil, muslims are all terrorists, should lend them to oppose muslims in all shapes and forms...why not you idiots call for a ban on muslims and islam from American altogether and why not act on it...a mass extermination of Muslims from America and beyond ought to be only logical solution per your ideology...a "final solution" to be exact...

    BTW, Hitler would be proud of all you Islam/muslim hating americans...his ideology of hate and evil has been reincarnated as whacked out right-wing christian patriotism...ably supported by the equally despicable anti-american Israel-loving zionists...

    August 30, 2010 at 2:49 am |
  10. jbc

    Brian, I am sorry for the loss of your wife. May you find peace. I have spent years hating a group because some from that group harmed me. this hatred has only hurt me and my family. i hope you can find true peace. it isn't easy, but it is worth it.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:41 am |
  11. lululuck

    Is the US going back to the 1960 and before Eras?

    August 30, 2010 at 2:31 am |
  12. IToldYou

    Yep, this is the first of many stories like this as the U.S. becomes more and more upset about the mosque being built in New York. It's going to start a war, and the people of the U.S. are going to come together to violate the constitutional law about being able to practice whatever religion you like. If they build that mosque in N.Y., I would expect there to be much more lashing out at the Muslim community.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:22 am |
  13. Justa Thought

    Religion is the source of all evil. For some it's a way of living, for others a way to have a reason to live, and for most a path of self destruction... Find your own purpose, and your own reasons, your place in the universe depends on that. When John Lennon wrote Imagine, it should have been the illumination to stop this non-sense...

    August 30, 2010 at 2:18 am |
    • LostInTranslation

      Yes. Religion is supposed to teach tolerance. And all you "good" people you understand that. For the rest of the narrow-minded, ignorant, and unworldy people who seem to resent other cultures and races, what makes you any different? Aren't you the ones who overlook your own ( fill in the blank of a group ) just bc you are part of such a group? Being part of something does not make it right. Use intelligence and reason to filter through the confusion both in your hearts and your heads. Good luck in life and view your neighbor as a person, not a group, and we can all put these petty issues aside.

      August 30, 2010 at 1:31 pm |
  14. Tony L

    Here comes the "CHRISTIAN TALIBANS" and the new "KKK" against Muslims. We may have to employ federal police to get things back in order for the civil rights violations of Muslim community among us. It is absolutely shocking to know Tennessee Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey make such comments about a religion that is practiced by billions of people all over the world. I thought Tennessee was a modern state with educated leaders instead seems like the state is still backward with religious zealots running the show. They may have to be sent back to school and study the constitution and bill of rights. This is not Afghanistan and we cannot allow some Americans to become Talibans.

    August 30, 2010 at 2:15 am |
  15. cathy

    Easy predicting this. The Americans got to have a scapegoat....and we are almost at the point of Nazi fascist Germany now. We have the corporations and government as one entity, and the spreading of hate towards a group.

    Did you know that the funding behind the Cordoba house near ground zero is from many of your cherished wealthy elite? Try Rockefeller? Gates? and many others involved in the CFR.
    Listen to the Corbett Report from Sunday August 22....He shows you who is funding this Islamic center. It sure isn't the phony entity Al Queda (another fact the government let slip....quietly.....and without the typical 24/7 coverage).

    Have you heard of the Mainstream Media being called a short name now, called RUT....It stands for "Repeat Until True".

    This is all part of a ploy to keep the ignorant, hateful and fearful US Americans distracted and looking in the direction of these unfounded fears of Muslims......instead of the orchestrators of "Problem->Reaction-–>Solution. They are devious to no ends and their main weapon is fear and pitting one group against the other.

    By the way. Does anyone have absolute proof "without a doubt" that the official story of 9/11 is fact? I am talking facts and actual proof.....NOT based on emotion. As of today, nobody has been able to give me this information. Funny, 8 of the 19 ALLEDGED hijackers turned up alive (That information came straight from government....quietly.....they didn't play that story 24/7)

    August 30, 2010 at 2:05 am |
  16. The Choobs

    I urge everyone here to read the post by one Kermit Roosevelt (August 29, 2010 at 10:21 pm) – I find it extremely uplifitng to read his words in light of this horrible attack on Islam in TN. "Kermit" tells us in this post how he has been anti-Muslim until recently when events like this and posts by honorable Americans, esp. servicemen, in these forums have opened his eyes to seeing that his view of Islam as evil has been wrong–and that actions like today's arson and the recent attack on the Muslim cabbie in NY demonstarte how horrible such hatred can be. "I can't help but feel I'm in the wrong here. God, what if I am? What about those who don't know they're wrong yet? What horrors will they wreak on us?" May we all heed these words and find love for all our human brothers and sisters here in Amercia.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:58 am |
  17. Gunner

    Hey Robert,
    Don't listen to Mike; I think he believes everything he hears on CNN. Obviously he hasn't lived in Iraq or the surrounding countries as I have for five years and seen, clitorusectomies, stoning of women to death, prosecution of NON-Muslim believers, Iron Maidens, human meat grinders, women faces cut/torn or burnt off, or gas thrown on little children, as their parents were raped and murdered. I bet he hasn't seen the LIONS arena where Sadams' son fed raped virgins to his lions, or ever felt the blast from a suicide bomber, been to chopping-block-square or seen a human MEAT GRINDER.
    Oh, Mike, Ignorance is BLISS MY FRIEND! I believe everything you are saying! You are so educated in the Muslim religion and the ways of Asia.....
    Have a great Day!
    Gunner

    August 30, 2010 at 1:54 am |
  18. The Choobs

    Well...one thing I've learned from reading comments on CNN stories about Islam, Muslims, 9-11, or any related subject is that all terrorists are Muslim these days, and only Muslims are terrorists, so the folks who burned this down must have been Muslim. Or am I missing something?

    August 30, 2010 at 1:45 am |
  19. bob

    KKK used to burn churches. These Neo KKK are not different from their predecessor. learn from the history, All KKK did not succeed and these Neo KKK would not either. These parasites are just working very hard to creat distance with the Muslim Americans. They have same right to worship God as much as any other christian. This is the land where people practice religion freely.

    August 30, 2010 at 1:28 am |
  20. Ali Beydoun

    (in hopes that I'm not tokenizing myself) can I just say that as an actual, real live, devout, Muslim American, I personally am open to any faith that understands the universality of human because this is what is at the core of Islam. While the Qur'an certainly illuminates the path of Islam as the most true path to reach the Divine, the Qur'an stresses over and over again that God and God alone will judge about our differences in our many paths. I understand this (and forgive me God if I'm wrong) meaning that we shouldn't be pointing the finger at each other and judging each other when we don't have all the facts. Everyone, quit being so paranoid. Muslims are not trying to take over America.lol. There is a minuscule minority of terrorists claiming to be representing the nearly 1 billion Muslims in the world. Now lets be logical. Nearly 1 billion is a huge number. If even 50% of that many Muslims actually supported the terrorists they would have already taken over the world, my friends. The fact of the matter is, the Muslims who do support these terrorists are an EXTREMELY tiny amount. We have a lot more in common than we do differences. We just have to approach each other with an open mind and not kill each other.

    (Furthermore, I want to make it very clear that Allah is not the "God of Islam." Allah is the ancient Arabic word for God. the Hebrew word Elloh (from which Elohim stems) is related to Allah. Also Arab Christians and Arabic speaking Jews refer to God as Allah as well.)

    August 30, 2010 at 1:12 am |
    • Ali

      and one last thing: God knows best

      August 30, 2010 at 1:23 am |
    • Caleb

      @Ali

      If God knows best, then relying on a book written in an obscure and poetic way must be the best way to rule us, yes?

      August 30, 2010 at 6:41 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.