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Friday, June 18, 2010

NIMBY: Residents Protest Mosque

NIMBY: Not In MY BACK YARD, say Murfreesboro residents concerned about a proposed mosque and the potential it will attract terrorists.

A plan to build a mosque and Islamic center in Rutherford County encountered heavy opposition Thursday night.So many people turned up for the public hearing at the Rutherford County courthouse, authorities wouldn't let them all in. Upstairs, a stream of residents told the county commissioners they believe a mosque is a threat to public safety.Karan Harrell said the community needs to “wake up before it’s too late.” She said, "everybody knows who's trying to kill us, but we’re not allowed to say it.”The mosque and Islamic center would be 52,000 square feet, a size some said would cause traffic and infrastructure concerns, and others found threatening on its face. Some speakers questioned whether the center would become a fortress or terrorist training camp."I need to know more. Who is behind the mosque? And why is it so big?" asked Scott Kozimore.No one spoke publicly in support of the mosque at the public hearing. The Islamic center's Imam Ossama Bahoul said earlier in the day that the battle comes down to stereotypes."I want everyone to know we care about the city, we are citizens of this country," Bahoul said. After the meeting, an inter-faith group spoke in support of religious tolerance.Judith Saks of the Jewish Federation said all religious views should be respected since "we are a nation of many faiths."Rutherford County resident Betty McNeely said she was embarrassed at the intolerance she heard at the meeting."I want to take my country back, back to the time when we had freedom of religion, freedom to worship, " McNeely said.A number of of residents asked for an expanded public hearing, but it's not clear whether that would make any difference, since the land is already properly zoned.

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