Monday, August 30, 2010

Developing Hate Messages Threaten To Ignite American Conflagration.

Developing Hate Messages Threaten To Ignite American Conflagration.


One piece of construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was set afire in the overnight hours while others had gasoline poured on them, according to a spokesperson for the ICM.
Carmie Ayash, spokeswoman for the ICM, told The DNJ Islamic Center officials were contacted by the sheriff’s department around 1:30 a.m. Saturday in reference to the damaged equipment. It appeared gasoline had been poured on several pieces of equipment at the site and one was lit afire. Ayash said it appeared the responsible arsonist was spooked during the act and fled the scene before other equipment could be set on fire.
“We were contacted by police department around 1:30 a.m,” Ayash said Saturday afternoon. “They said someone had caught fire to some of the equipment. I think they lifted the hood and poured gas into the hood and set it on fire.
“The other equipment had gasoline poured on it but was not set on fire. It seems like it was intentional. Probably, whoever did it got caught in the middle of the act, got scared and left.”
Authorities working the scene did not specify whether gasoline or some other accelerant was used to start the fire.
Islamic Center officials have contacted the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, according to Ayash, and sheriff’s department investigators “told us they will be investigating this as a hate crime.” Ayash later said sheriff’s officials “asked her to correct her statement,” adding they plan to explore several different motives while investigating the arson.
Ayash said the most recent vandalism to the site “takes it to a whole new level.” The site has already been the target of two other vandalisms, both aimed at a sign marking the future site.
“Everyone in our community no longer feels safe,” she said. “To set a fire that could have blown up equipment and, God forbid, spread and caused damage to the neighbors there ... we really feel like this is something that we and the neighbors don’t deserve. When they (ICM officials) called me this morning I started crying.”
Ayash said it appears the intention of the arsonist was to scare members of the Islamic community and she added the arsonist has succeeded.”
The spokeswoman told The DNJ that Islamic Center officials have tried, unsuccessfully, to contact construction company, Ole South Properties, Inc., about the arson to its equipment.
“They did hurt the construction company,” Ayash said. “It’s not hurting us. It did put us in a fearful state, so they did accomplish that. I don’t understand where this is coming from.”
Check back at throughout the day for more on this developing story.
— Mark Bell, 615-278-5153


An apparent case of arson to construction equipment at the site of the future Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is under investigation at this hour by fire investigators from the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office and employees of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
Sheriff’s department Lt. Randy Groce, who was at the site on Veals Road at Bradyville Pike Saturday morning, told The Daily News Journal that it was unclear “exactly what we’ve got here,” and declined further comment until more facts can be gathered. It is unclear whether the RCSO or ATF will lead the investigation at this point, he added.
Crime scene tape surrounded several pieces of construction equipment at the site around 10:30 a.m. Investigators, including arson investigator Groce, remained at the scene.
The current site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, located near the intersection of South Church Street and Middle Tennessee Boulevard, was closed when a Daily News Journal reporter went there to seek comment on the matter. No one from the center could be immediately reached via telephone this morning.
Check back at throughout the day for more on this developing story.
— Mark Bell, 615-278-5153

Shots Report Checked At Site 

One day after a piece of construction equipment was burned at the building site for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, the Rutherford County Sheriff's office investigated a report about shots fired at the site. 

Congregation member Saleh Sbenaty was at the site on Veals Road off Bradyville Pike around 3:15 p.m. Sunday afternoon because a news crew wanted to interview a family regarding the equipment fire. While at the scene, two sets of shots — nine total — were fired near the property's eastern and southeastern boundaries, he said.
"It was nothing like a hunting rifle," said Sbenaty, an MTSU engineering professor and member of the Islamic Center's planning committee.
Female members of the center's congregation were on site and easily recognizable because of their wardrobe. He wasn't sure if the shots were being fired at the Muslim group, but in the aftermath of the weekend arson incident, he said they felt it necessary to report.
"We hope for the best, obviously, but this isn't hunting land. There's plenty of houses around here," he said. "To say we're nervous is a huge understatement. It's terrorism."
Several deputies responded to the scene Sunday afternoon, but they could not be reached for comment as they investigated at the site.
Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom are scheduling a candlelight vigil tonight at 7 at the County Courthouse in response to Saturday’s fire to demonstrate for a community free of violence, arson and other intimidation, said spokeswoman Claire Rogers.
The congregation began preparing the 15-acre site — just outside Murfreesboro city limits — for construction about a week ago. The plan is to build a house of worship nearly 53,000 square feet in size in several phases because it has outgrown its current 2,250-square-foot home on Middle Tennessee Boulevard.

The group plans to have a worship room, activity room, offices, gymnasium, swimming pool, outdoor athletic fields and possibly a cemetery.
Islamic Center spokeswoman Camie Ayash said Saturday's fire appeared to be an attempt to scare members of the local Islamic community.
One piece of construction equipment was damaged over the weekend when it was burned early Saturday morning, and three other pieces of equipment were doused with some sort of accelerant, Sbenaty said.
The sheriff's office, the FBI and ATF are investigating, but it is unknown which agency will serve as the lead.
Keith Moses, assistant special agent in charge of the FBI's Nashville office, said charred portions of the truck were collected as evidence Sunday, but it is too soon to tell what type of accelerant was used. ATF Special Agent Eric Kehn of the Nashville office said it could take a few days or weeks to determine what was used to set the fire.

Sbenaty said the congregation was "shocked, saddened" and "really hurt" by Saturday's incident. Recent events, including vandalism to a sign at the site, have been hard to explain to the children.
"The children are traumatized," he said, noting they don't understand why people would try to keep them from worshiping freely.
"We're trying to give the children the message of don't hate anybody, love everybody," he said.

Billionaire Who Denies Connection to Tea Parties Bankrolls Tea-Partying Glenn Beck Fans

David Koch, billionaire backer of the Tea Party movement, says he's never been to a Tea Party event. So, what do you call the conference full of Tea Partiers he just convened?
 In a darkened hotel ballroom, on the eve of Glenn Beck's burlesque of self-righteousness at the Lincoln Memorial, some 2,500 activists listened politely to the tall, impeccably dressed elder at the podium as he stumbled through his introduction of the evening's guest of honor, the conservative columnist George Will. The speaker was introduced simply as chairman of the board of the Americans For Prosperity Foundation, the organization that sponsored the event.
Few among the rank-and-file recognized the billionaire David Koch -- heir to the fortunes of Koch Industries --  or knew him as the man who bankrolls their activism, whose largess subsidized many of their trips to the nation's capital to take part in AFPF's organizing conference, and the Beck rally the following day.
Beck, you'll recall, is in the employ of the billionaire Rupert Murdoch, whose News Corporation (the parent company of Fox News and the Wall Street Journal) has been in cahoots, as AlterNet reported, with Kochs' AFPF since the inception of the Tea Party movement. Koch's halting public speaking style befits his usual reluctance in recent years to interact with the public. He prefers to be known as the philanthropic presence behind the great institutions of New York: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History and the New York City Ballet. Indeed, he made his entrance to the stage at the AFPF banquet to the strains of "New York, New York," which seemed a bit out of place in a room filled with the sounds of Southern drawls and Midwestern twangs.
But over the course of the past year, Koch has earned a new reputation, one he's not keen to have: the Daddy Warbucks of the Tea Party movement.
As AlterNet first reported last year, the two main astroturf groups responsible for organizing Tea Party supporters into a national movement were both founded by Koch: Americans For Prosperity, presided over by Tim Phillips, the former business partner of Ralph Reed; and FreedomWorks, which is chaired by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey.
Both FreedomWorks and Americans For Prosperity have their roots in a now-defunct Koch-funded group, Citizens for a Sound Economy. While Koch is actively involved in Americans For Prosperity, his spokesperson claims no current relationship with FreedomWorks, or, incredibly, with the Tea Party movement.
Last spring, on the eve of the April 15 Tax Day Tea Party protests, Koch Industries spokesperson Melissa Cohlmia sent an unsolicited statement to reporters and bloggers, asserting that "Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch and David Koch have no ties to and have never given money to FreedomWorks. In addition, no funding has been provided by Koch companies, the Koch foundations, Charles Koch or David Koch specifically to support the tea parties. Thanks for your consideration."
“I’ve never been to a Tea Party event," David Koch told New York magazine's Andrew Goldman earlier this year. "No one representing the Tea Party has ever even approached me."

Koch Industries: We Don't Fund Tea Parties (Except For The Tea Parties We Fund)

Racist Far Right Group Praised by NY Anti-Mosque Organizers Riots in UK

White Supremacists Find Common Cause with Pam Geller’s Anti-Islam Campaign

Wave of Hate Crimes Directed at Muslims Breaks Out

Push Back On Koran-Burning Day

The religion “of the Devil” … practiced by “animals of Allah” … worshipping a “monkey-god”…Messages of hatred and discrimination are polluting our public discourse as we approach the anniversary of 9/11.

This Muslim-bashing follows on the heels of a debate about the “Ground Zero Mosque.” Comments from fearmongers have been deeply discriminatory—and completely disregard what’s really at stake: our Constitutional values, fundamental rights, and national security.

Cynically using the 9/11 anniversary to vilify Islam and Muslims trivializes the real tragedy of 9/11—the indiscriminate killing of innocent civilians.

We’ve gotten to the point that a small group in Florida is supporting a “Burn a Koran” event on September 11th—sponsored by a church, of all places. Left unchallenged, their message of hatred is heard loud and clear across the globe.

Where is the sense in this situation?

The Dove World Outreach Center in Gainesville Florida has posted on its website 10 Reasons to Burn a Koran.” We’re making our own list, and asking our supporters to send us your top reason NOT to burn a Koran. We’ll select the top 10 answers, post them on our website, and distribute them near and far to make sure another perspective is heard in this debate.

This misguided and violent rhetoric only harms us by alienating the communities whose cooperation is essential to effectively combat terrorism.

Human Rights First has been fighting discrimination and intolerance wherever it occurs, monitoring situations all over the world where bias turns into violence and finding ways to combat it.
Help us push back on those who are delivering messages of hate.

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