Tennessee: New Vandalism at Mosque – “Tea Party” Candidate Rejects Mosque Proposal

By R.E.A.L. Organization • on June 25, 2010

Responsible for Equality And Liberty (R.E.A.L.) condemns the ongoing religious intolerance in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and we promote freedom of religion, freedom of worship, and freedom of conscience for all of our fellow human beings.

In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a sign for a planned mosque expansion was vandalized for the second time in 6 months.  The planned expansion of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been a contentious issue among people in that area.

On June 17, 2010, over 600 individuals coming to a local hearing to protest the mosque plans.  News media reports stated that the June hearing displayed “ugly criticism.” The Tennessean reported that “Plans for a new Islamic center south of Murfreesboro have some residents denouncing the Muslim religion and others calling the dispute one of the ugliest displays of religious intolerance in the county’s history… Many saw the event as an embarrassing black eye for Rutherford County over a lack of religious tolerance, while dozens reiterated their fears and charges that the mosque needs to be held to high scrutiny and regarded with heavy suspicion.”

Video Clip from Tennessee Mosque Protest (Photo: News Channel 5)

Video Clip from Tennessee Mosque Protest (Photo: News Channel 5)

On June 25, 2010, WSMV Nashville reported that a leading Republican candidates for Tennessee’s 6th congressional district, Lou Ann Zelenik, condemned the plans for the mosque’s expansion in Murfreesboro.

Lou Ann Zelenik Statement on Facebook

Lou Ann Zelenik Statement on Facebook

The candidate, Lou Ann Zelenik,  issued a statement that included the following remarks:
“Lou Ann stands with everyone who is opposed to the idea of an Islamic training center being built in our community.  This ‘Islamic Center’ is not part of a religious movement; it is a political movement designed to fracture the moral and political foundation of Middle Tennessee.”
….
“Yes, we are tolerant, but our nation was founded on the tenets of the Judeo-Christian tradition; we have a right to defend that tradition; we have a right to defend that tradition.  Until the American Muslim community find it in their hearts to separate themselves from their evil, radical counterparts, to condemn those who want to destroy our civilization and will fight against them, we are not obligated to open our society to any of them.”

“There are those in our society who bow before the throne of political correctness, as if it itself were the god that would save our country.  Those people live in a fantasy world that never was and never will be.   Those who cower in silence are equally wrong.  The People of Rutherford County all need to stand together and say, ‘enough is enough.’”

Lou Ann Zelenik also issued a statement on her Facebook page opposing the mosque.

Tennessee Lou Ann Zelenik Opposes Mosque Plans - Candidate for 6th Congressional District

Candidate for 6th Congressional District Opposes Mosque Plans

In the Wilson County Tea Party questionnaire, Lou Ann Zelenik also responds to the question ‘What does the 1st Amendment mean when it says, ‘Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.’?’
– with the reply:
“Congress shall make no law regarding the establishment of religion nor shall they interfere with the expression of our faith. This also means congress cannot remove faith from the public square either.”

According to WSMV, Lou Ann Zelenik “calls herself a leader in the Middle Tennessee tea party movement.”  She has been interviewed by the Wilson County Tea Party in Tennessee, which has published an article “Kudos to Lou Ann Zelenik” for her opposition to the mosque plans. In her response to the Wilson County Tea Party questionnaire, Ms. Zelenik states that “She served as an organizer for the first and second Rutherford County Tea Parties.”  She was interviewed with “Tea Party HD.” Lou Ann Zelenik’s campaign also includes strong support the National Rife Association (NRA) and she poses for photos with weapons on her Facebook page to accentuate that support.

6th Congressional Candidate Zelenik Poses with Automatic Weapons in Showing Her Support for the NRA (Photo: Facebook)

6th Congressional Candidate Zelenik Poses with Automatic Weapons in Showing Her Support for the NRA (Photo: Facebook)

R.E.A.L. will contact the National Tea Party organizations for comment.

On June 23, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro announced plans to hold an open house on Saturday, June 26.

On June 23, 2010, the sign for the future mosque expansion was once again vandalized.  The the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro spokesperson Carmie Ayash told the Murfreesboro Daily News Journal “At this time we’re going to release one statement and that is that this has been a very unfortunate incident and we are just trying to be good neighbors.”

 Damage to the sign at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on Veals Road at Bradyville Pike is seen Wednesday. (Photo: John A. Gillis/Murfreesboro Daily News Journal)

Damage to the sign at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro on Veals Road at Bradyville Pike is seen Wednesday. (Photo: John A. Gillis/Murfreesboro Daily News Journal)

In January 2010, WKRN reported on previous vandalism of a sign for the planned new mosque, with the graffiti “Not Welcome.”

Murfreesboro, Tennessee:  Vandalism of Sign for Planned Mosque

January 2010: Murfreesboro, Tennessee: Vandalism of Sign for Planned Mosque

In Tennessee, vandalism and violence has been seen against mosques.  In February 2010, the Al-Farooq Mosque was vandalized with “Christian” graffiti and the message “Muslims go home.” In Columbia, Tennessee, a mosque was burned down by Neo-Nazi White Supremacists.

Another Image of the Hate Vandalism at Tennessee Mosque  (Photo: JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN)

Hate Vandalism at Tennessee Al-Farooq Mosque (Photo: JOHN PARTIPILO / THE TENNESSEAN)

Tennessee: Islamic Center Mosque Burned Down by Terrorists in Columbia

Tennessee: Islamic Center Mosque Burned Down by Terrorists in Columbia, TN (Photo: TIRRC)

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Responsible for Equality and Liberty (R.E.A.L.) supports our universal human rights to freedom of religion, freedom of worship, and freedom of conscience for all people of all faiths.  Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that “Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion; this right includes freedom to change his religion or belief, and freedom, either alone or in community with others and in public or private, to manifest his religion or belief in teaching, practice, worship and observance.”

We urge those who promote hate and intolerance to unburden the hate from their hearts.

We urge all to Choose Love, Not Hate.  Love Wins.

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List of Media Reports:

Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Sign at future mosque site vandalized again

WSMV: Candidate Denounces Mosque Proposal – Mosque Officials Call Vandalism Hate Crime

MSNBC: Candidate Denounces Mosque Proposal

WSMV: Islamic Congregation To Hold Open House

WSMV: Rutherford Co. Residents Protest Mosque – Some Fear Intentions Of Muslims

ABC News: “Plan for Mosque in Tennessee Town Draws Criticism from Residents
Murfreesboro Mosque Sparks Debate That at Times Turns Ugly”

Tennessee News Channel 5: Proposed Islamic Center Stirs Up Controversy In MurfreesboroChannel 5 Video Link

The Tennessean: Mosque expansion proposal in Murfreesboro spotlights fear, shame

The Tennessean: Murfreesboro mosque opponents pack commission meeting

January 18, 2010: WKRN: Vandals spray paint Murfreesboro Islamic Center sign

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R.E.A.L. Reports:

Tennessee Mosque Plans Under Protest

Tennessee: White Supremacist Nazi Gets 4 Years in Prison for Mosque Firebombing

Tennessee Man Sentenced to 183 Months in Prison for Burning Islamic Center

Tennessee: Vandalism Against Mosque