Tennessee: We don’t want to persecute Muslims, BUT…
by Sheila Musaji
Tennessee is an excellent example of the insanity of anti-Muslim bigotry.
Murfreesboro, Tennessee has seen a long struggle to build and open a mosque. After three years of legal battles, vandalism, threats and arson, the mosque is almost completed and open. We also saw the face of the bigotry underlying the mosque opposition come to the surface in Murfreesboro’s recent battle against “creeping Sharia”, this time in the public schools because one public school student asked for permission to pray at school. (see In Murfreesboro, Tennessee Islamophobia Trumps the U.S. Constitution for a background on this public school incident.)
In Somerville, Tennessee, plans to develop a Muslim cemetery brought protests that “the burial ground could become a staging ground for terrorists or spread disease from unembalmed bodies.” One opponent of the cemetery said “Ladies and gentlemen, you may think this is far-fetched, but that is what the Jewish people thought when the Nazis started taking a small foothold, a little at a time, in their community.” Actually, Muslim and Jewish burial customs are very similar, and there are already Jewish cemeteries in Tennessee.
Blake Farmer, in an article on NPR Fears About Shariah Law Take Hold In Tennessee quotes Lee Douglas who helped draft a resolution criticizing the governor for hiring Samar Ali who is a Muslim as saying: “I don’t want anybody to persecute any religion including Islam, but we have a duty as Americans to understand that they intend to take us over and compel us to become Islamic,” Douglas says. The First Amendment may provide the freedom to practice all religions, but, according to Douglas, the “government is showing a deference and is accommodating one single religion — Islam, Shariah.” (see Islamic Sharia and Jewish Halakha Arbitration Courts for a discussion of this non-existent Sharia danger.)
Wow, Tennessee has 60,000 Muslims out of a population of 6,403,353, which is 0.9%, not even 1% of the population. Even if it were true (and it is not) that all of the 0.9% of Tennesseans who are Muslim wanted to take over the state and compel everyone to become Muslim, exactly how would any reasonable person think they were going to do that?
— Less that 1% of the population that is Muslim is a danger and could take over?
— One Muslim child asking permission to pray by himself in an empty room at lunch time in a school in which group Bible studies are held by Christian students is a danger?
— Even dead Muslims buried in a cemetery are a danger?
The truth is that people who hold such views are bigots, but rather than just come out and say “I’m a bigot and I don’t like Muslims”, they attempt to justify their bigotry with such ridiculous rationalizations and justifications, and hide behind nonsense like “I don’t want to persecute any religion, BUT”.
If anyone should be worried it’s the less than 1% of the population who might be affected by that BUT.