The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro reportedly received threats in the week before the fire on its property, according to a local TV station, including one that was recorded on voicemail.
News Channel 5 reports that someone called the Islamic center a few days before the fire and left a message saying, in part, “You need to get out of the country now.”
A fire was discovered early Saturday morning at the site of the proposed Islamic center and mosque in Murfreesboro, Tenn. An accelerant had been dumped over four pieces of construction equipment, and one was set on fire.
In another development, other vehicles owned by the same construction company, parked in another location, were also vandalized Friday night.
Ole South Excavating, which is working on the community center, reported two more construction vehicles vandalized. The equipment’s windows were smashed with large rocks and a brass valve, according to the report.
Saleh Sbenaty, a member of the center’s planning committee and a college professor, told TPMmuckraker last night that some protesters have called for the boycott of any contractors who agree to work on the mosque.
The mosque — which is still two years away from being completed — has sparked protests in the city of Murfreesboro. There have also been other acts of vandalism: A sign marking the site of the future building was spray-painted with “Not welcome,” and then later broken in half.
Sbenaty expressed shock over the atmosphere in a town he’s lived in for 30 years. For most of that time, he said, the community has been extremely supportive and welcoming. Even after Sept. 11, 2001, he said, neighbors came up to him and said, “Please do not feel scared. We know your religion has nothing to do with this.”
“It’s a wide shift, and a shock,” he told TPM. “It’s just mind-boggling.”
Sbenaty, who is also a member of the Middle East Center at Middle Tennessee State, pinpointed the shift to the 2008 elections and allegations that President Obama is a Muslim.