Opposition to Mosque Proposals Mounting
"[T]he intense feelings driving [the] debate [over the Islamic community center near Ground Zero] have surfaced in communities from California to Florida in recent months, raising questions about whether public attitudes toward Muslims have shifted. In Tennessee, three plans for new Islamic centers in the Nashville area -- one of which was ultimately withdrawn -- have provoked controversy and outbursts of ugliness. Members of one mosque discovered a delicately rendered Jerusalem cross spray-painted on the side of their building with the words 'Muslims go home.'
In the Nashville area, the Muslim population has grown to 20,000 to 25,000, fueled by the arrival of Somalis fleeing strife and the federal government's decision to resettle Iraqi refugees there after the Persian Gulf War. Central Tennessee is now home to the country's largest population of Iraqi Kurds.
[Murfreesboro, about 30 miles southeast of Nashville] has outgrown its four mosques, where men often have to pray in the parking lots because of the crowds, leaders say. Members of the mosque have raised about $600,000 to buy land and prepare the site for a 10,000-square-foot gathering place. Plans for a school, pool and cemetery are expected to take years to complete. But the vision of a large-scale complex has caused consternation among locals."