The Ground Zero mosque and Islamic center controversy is absorbing most of the media attention, but there’s a battle brewing in Murfreesboro, T.N. over the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s plans to build a new site to accommodate their growing congregation. Tensions are reaching a boiling point, with citizens protesting the project and pointing to signs that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) may promote a radical ideology.
The anger has reached the point where acts of arson and vandalism are being committed against the ICM, helping supporters of the project paint its opponents as seeking to strip the rights of Muslims to build mosques. This may be true of some, but the reality is that the imam of the ICM, Osama Bahloul, has not addressed the issues that are stoking the legitimate fears of the surrounding community. Imam Bahloul has not made a convincing case that he will be a voice combating radical Islam and the establishment of Shariah law.
One of the ICM’s board members, Mosaad Rawash, was suspended after his MySpace page was exposed. On it, he promoted a pledge for Muslims to wage violent jihad against Israel and had a poem decrying how people he feels are resistance fighters in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq are being labeled as terrorists.
“I swear by God Exalted, that I shall remain faithful to the blood of the Martyrs devoted completely to the historical right, rejecting all types of concessions no matter how strong the pressures or great the sacrifices, pledging to God Almighty to help the Palestinian people in their steadfastness and Jihad until they realize the promise of God,” was written on the page.
Most disturbingly, his page had a photo of two founders of Hamas, Ahmed Yassin and Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi, standing above members of the terrorist group carrying weapons. Despite this blatant support for terrorism, Rawash’s suspension was temporary and he is back as a board member. The decision to accept Rawash back as a board member with his support for Hamas now known casts serious doubt on the ICM’s credentials as a moderate organization. Imam Bahloul did condemn Hamas and Hezbollah for CBN News, but would only do it off-camera.
The Islamic Center’s reading list (which has since been deleted) includes several extremist authors close to the Muslim Brotherhood, such as Sheikh Yousef al-Qaradawi, a well-known Brotherhood theologian. He barely conceals his extremism and any notion that he is a moderate can only result from an exceeding amount of ignorance that would disqualify Bahloul from being an imam, a deliberate misrepresentation, or an acceptance of his views as legitimate.
Al-Qaradawi has been condemned by other Muslim clerics for saying Hitler was Allah’s method of judging the Jews and that “Allah willing, the next time will be at the hand of believers.” He accuses the Jews of “exaggerating” Hitler’s crimes against them and said he hopes to die as a martyr shooting at the Jews. These are just a few of the statements he has made in a long history of anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist advocacy. He supports Hamas, suicide bombings, the destruction of Israel, Shariah law, and fighting U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. He also signed a letter saying that the 9⁄11 attacks were a “fabricated drama by some influential forces in America in co-ordination with Israeli Mossad.”
“The group’s website features religious materials advocating violence and/or hatred towards Jews, Christians and women. And the site provides links to brochures found on a website (www.2muslims.com) run by ICM’s board member, Abdoulrahman Kattih, promoting such illicit subjects as polygamy,” Joe Kaufman, Chairman of Americans Against Hate, told FrontPage.
The citizens opposing the mosque have filed a lawsuit to try to stop the project. They argue that the public was not adequately notified of the plan before approving it in a secret pre-meeting before the official May 24 planning commission meeting where it was given the go-ahead. The County Mayor says the allegation about a pre-meeting “is an outright falsehood” and the officials say that the meeting was publicly declared three weeks prior. The plantiffs are hoping that a judge will nullify the May 24 meeting, evoking the approval for the mosque.
“It is unfortunate that the citizens of the town of Murfreesboro may have to deal with such a center being built and housed in their neighborhood. If those in charge were smart and truly worried about the security of the townspeople who elected them, they would move to shut this project down,” Kaufman said.
Imam Bahloul has yet to publicly condemn Hamas, Hezbollah, al-Qaradawi, the Muslim Brotherhood and their ideologies. He has not answered why he accepted Rawash back as a board member even after learning of his favorable attitude towards terrorism or why texts by authors like al-Qaradawi were on the reading list. The Murfressboro community deserves these answers and until Imam Bahloul addresses these concerns, no project by the ICM should be approved.