Friday, November 26, 2010

Islam in Tennessee: or the danger of one mosque (or the expansion of an existing mosque)

"So perhaps it should not have come as a surprise that three Rutherford County residents filed a lawsuit in September to block construction of the mosque. The plaintiffs believe that they “have been and will be irreparably harmed by the risk of terrorism generated by proselytising for Islam and inciting the practices of sharia law,” which, they claim, “advocates sexual abuse of children, beating and physical abuse of women, death edicts, honour killings, killing of homosexuals, outright lies to Kafirs (those who don’t submit to sharia law), Constitution-free zones, and total world dominion.” Of course, Murfreesboro has had a mosque for decades, and does not seem infested with “Constitution-free zones”; quite how moving to a bigger building in a different location intensifies the risk remains unclear.  The defence called a single witness, who testified that the county’s planning commission followed proper procedure; the plaintiffs called at least 17, including Frank Gaffney, who runs a think-tank in Washington, DC, and speaks often about the dangers of sharia (for whatever that is worth: on the stand he admitted, “I am not an expert on sharia, but I have talked a lot about it as a threat”). Their attorney’s questioning often focused not on the details of open-meetings laws but on the incompatibility of sharia and American law, on whether Islam is a religion (the federal government filed a brief saying that it is) and on whether advocating sharia law ought to be protected by the first amendment.