Protesting the mosque: A post Founding Fathers America

Protesting the mosque: A post Founding Fathers America
Jonathan Hayden, Salon blog, July 21, 2010

Last week protestors poured into the streets of Murfreesboro, TN to voice their displeasure at a proposed new mosque just outside of the city in central Tennessee. Some of the protestors were very clear on why they were opposed to a mosque in their neighborhood. “We’re at war with these people,” said one woman. Local political figures likewise did not mince words. Lou Ann Zelenik, a congressional candidate said Muslims aimed to “fracture the moral and political foundation of Middle Tennessee."
In a television news report, local Channel 5 reported on a small Muslim community in a rural part of the state. The reporter seemed shocked to find the there were no signs of “anti-American activity” or “flag desecration”. Nor, he told us, were there “reports from neighbors complaining of unexplained gunshots or explosions.”

This animosity towards and suspicion of Islam is by no means restricted to Tennessee. Mosques across America are being attacked at a startling rate. In the past few months, mosques in Iowa, Florida, Georgia, New York, have been targeted with physical attack.

Over the last few years, I have visited to over 100 mosques throughout the country for field work research which resulted in the book Journey into America: The Challenge of Islam and a film by the same name by world renowned scholar Akbar Ahmed. We found that these occurrences were far too common. I would estimate that over half of the mosques we visited have been targeted in one way or the other—sometimes with aggressive actions like windows being broken or arson. Sometimes more passive actions are taken like complaints over parking issues, or threatening letters. Some mosques protect themselves by hanging no sign or image indicating that the building is even in use.

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