MURFREESBORO, TN — The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro released surveillance footage Thursday showing the weekend vandalism that say explicit messages spray painted on the mosque and its playground and bacon left on the front stoop.
The video shows the vandals arriving around 3 a.m. Tuesday. (For more updates on this story and free news alerts for your neighborhood, sign up for your local Middle Tennessee Patch morning newsletter.)
Detectives have spoken with federal authorities about the crime.
“We are looking for anyone with information about people who may have talked about defiling the mosque,” Rutherford County Sheriff’s Detective Sgt. Dan Goodwin said.
The Islamic Center has been under attack nearly from the moment it chose to relocate to the Veals Road property on the edge of Murfreesboro. After unanimous approval by the Rutherford County Planning Commission in 2010, opponents — which included Lou Ann Zelenik, at the time running for the Republican nomination to the United States Congress — argued that the ICM wasn’t a religious institution, saying that it was a political group that had connections with terrorists who wanted to impose Sharia law, and arguing that Islam wasn’t a religion — then-Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, who was running for governor at the time, questioned whether Islam was more akin to a cult.
When judges, elected officials, including Murfreesboro’s Republican mayor Ernest Burgess, and the United States Department of Justice refuted those claims, opponents filed a number of convoluted lawsuits, arguing that proper public notice was not given and that the planning commission violated the state’s open-meeting law.
In the meantime, Laurie Cardoza-Moore, a lobbyist for anti-Islam group Proclaiming Justice To The Nation, spearheaded a lawsuit alleging the ICM was part of a broad conspiracy to “take over” Middle Tennessee. Herman Cain, then a candidate for president, criticized the mosque as well.
Nevertheless, construction persisted, even after excavators used in groundbreaking were doused with gasoline and set on fire. The mosque opened its doors in August 2012 and in the ensuing time has received bomb threats and been the victim of occasional incidents of vandalism.
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