From THINK PROGRESS:
For months, conservatives have led a hateful campaign against the expansion of a local Islamic center in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This campaign has been endorsed by high-ranking Republicans such as the state’s Lt. Governor, Ron Ramsey, who last month, speaking to a group of Republicans in opposition to the mosque, wondered aloud whether Islam was a religion or a “cult” and fearmongered about the mosque trying to bring “Sharia law” to America. Earlier this year, Lou Ann Zelenik, a GOP congressional candidate in Tennessee, campaigned against the Murfreesboro mosque, arguing that it posed a threat to that state’s “moral and political foundation.”
Now, the local press reports that the police are investigating a case of arson that occurred at the construction site of the mosque Friday night:
Nashville CBS affiliate WTVF reports that police are investigating the arson as a hate crime. Members of the Muslim community are so paralyzed by fear, said spokeswoman Camie Ayash, that they are not joining the congregation at the local mosque during the current month of Ramadan.
A local religious freedom group, Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom, plans to hold a “candlelight vigil in front of the Rutherford County Courthouse on Monday in response to the fire. “We simply cannot allow the actions of a few destructive individuals to go overlooked by Rutherford County residents,” said Claire Rogers, a spokesman for the group.
The incident at Murfreesboro should not be viewed in isolation. Among other recent Islamophobic hate incidents: a pipe bomb was set off at a Jacksonville mosque; a playground at an Arlington, Texas mosque was torched; a brick was thrown through a mosque window in Madera, California; a Nashville mosque was vandalized, among many others.
(Video at THINK PROGRESS link)
Does hate pay? From THE HILL (August 5th):
Knoxville Mayor Bill Haslam (R) defeated Rep. Zach Wamp (R-Tenn.) and Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey (R) to claim the GOP gubernatorial nod Thursday.
Boosted by his support during early voting, Haslam was declared the winner by the Associated Press close to an hour after the polls closed in Tennessee. He’d received more than 131,000 votes, while Wamp, his closest rival, had just less than 70,000.
Ramsey […] questioned whether Islam was a religion. He also had the support of some 20 Tea Party groups in the state.