Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.
Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.
Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.
The ATF, FBI and Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office are conducting a joint investigation into the fire, Anderson said.
WTVF reports firefighters were alerted by a passerby who saw flames at the site. One large earth hauler was set on fire before the suspect or suspects left the scene.
The chair of the center’s planning committee, Essim Fathy, said he drove to the site at around 5:30 a.m. Saturday morning after he was contacted by the sheriff’s department.
“Our people and community are so worried of what else can happen,” said Fathy. “They are so scared.”
The fire was smoldering by the time Fathy and the center’s imam, Ossama Bahloul, had arrived. Fathy was told that responders had smelled gasoline near the fire.
Fathy was later contacted by members of the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security, who told him the incident was under investigation and to remain calm.
Charles Johnson at Little Green Footballs
Josh Marshall at Talking Points Memo:
In recent weeks we’ve been covering the controversy over a proposed Muslim community center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, which has been pulled into several local and statewide political campaigns. Now the ATF and FBI are investigating a suspicious fire and vandalism that occurred at the construction site Saturday morning.
“No mosque in Murfreesboro. I don’t want it. I don’t want them here,” Evy Summers told the local CBS affiliate. “Go start their own country overseas somewhere. This is a Christian country. It was based on Christianity.”
Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the center’s planning committee and a professor of engineering technology at Middle Tennessee State University, noted that Murfreesboro’s Muslim Americans have been part of the community for 30 years, largely without incident. But the proposed center has apparently driven local bigots to violence.
Jeff Neumann at Gawker:
Now, you know, I’m all about freedom of religion. I value the First Amendment as much as I value the Second Amendment as much as I value the Tenth Amendment and on and on and on,” he said. “But you cross the line when they try to start bringing Sharia Law here to the state of Tennessee — to the United States. We live under our Constitution and they live under our Constitution.”
That’s right. Tennessee doesn’t need to worry about a 9.8% jobless rate, the state needs to watch out for the Muslim takeover which is just around the corner. It’s no surprise when these things happen, especially when you have men like Ron Ramsey tapping into people’s fear of The Other. Good job, asshole.
The arsonists undoubtedly will be happy to tell you how much they hate Terrorism. And how there’s a War on Christianity underway in the U.S. The harm from these actions are not merely the physical damage they cause, but also the well-grounded fear it imposes on a minority of the American population. If you launch a nationwide, anti-Islamic campaign in Lower Manhattan based on the toxic premise that Muslims generally are responsible for 9/11 — and spend a decade expanding American wars on one Muslim country after the next — this is the inevitable, and obviously dangerous, outcome.
We’re getting to the point that I just don’t want to even talk about politics any more. It is just too depressing, and even smart people I know are spouting nonsense. I had a discussion with someone I’ve known a long time about the Glenn Beck nonsense yesterday, and all that person could say was “If the Democrats want my vote, they need to distance themselves from Al Sharpton.” Because you know how much power Al Sharpton has in the Democratic party, as opposed to the lunatics in the driver’s seat of the GOP. I swear to God every white person over the age of fifty has just completely lost their shit.
I just changed the topic. FOX news and the race-baiters have us all by the balls.