Overcoming Hateful Threats and Arson, Tennessee Mosque Expansion Breaks Ground Without Controversy

As ThinkProgress documented, the congregants of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro in Murfreesboro, Tennessee had been working for more than a year to gain approval for an expansion of the mosque and the building of an Islamic Center. While making their case for an expansion, these peaceful Muslims faced a vicious campaign of hate from far-right political activists in the state, which included Islamophobic accusations that they were trying to establish Sharia law in Tennessee, comments by the state’s lieutenant governor that Islam was a “cult,” and an arson attack.

Yet the mosque’s attendees overcame these trials, and the far-right political activists failed to convince Tennesseans, among whom only 28 percent objected to the expansion, according to polling conducted last October. Yesterday, the Murfreesboro Islamic Center finally broke ground on its mosque expansion, to the cheers of hundreds who came to celebrate, and without any controversy or threats. “We are not really celebrating the groundbreaking of this center. We are celebrating that liberty and freedom and religion exists as a fact in this nation,” said Ossama Bahloul, the mosque’s imam. “And we can be here in America and set an example for people.”

Given the past threats, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro does plan to take security measures at their new expansion, including the installation of 24-hour video surveillance cameras.