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Throughout August, various American political leaders and figures have been questioning whether Muslims have any place in this country. We've had pundits comparing Muslims to Nazis. We've been told that Muslims are ideologically bound to the goal of spreading "Shari'ah law," a term that is used by these demagogues as a catch-all for terrorism and violence. We've had talk of "terror babies," children who are born and raised in America specifically to commit terrorist acts.

All of this is a product of the opposition to the building of Islamic houses of worship and community centers all across this country, and most prominently Park51 near Ground Zero. If anyone wishes to deny the Islamophobic and xenophobic nature of this opposition, I direct you to this youtube video, in which a black man is nearly assaulted during the protest against Park51 for the crime of being darker-skinned and wearing a white cap:

Now, we have news that there was a fire at the planned mosque.

Federal officials are investigating a fire that started overnight at the site of a new Islamic center in a Nashville suburb.

Ben Goodwin of the Rutherford County Sheriff's Department confirmed to CBS Affiliate WTVF that the fire, which burned construction equipment at the future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, is being ruled as arson.

Special Agent Andy Anderson of the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives told CBS News that the fire destroyed one piece of construction equipment and damaged three others. Gas was poured over the equipment to start the fire, Anderson said.

In case, you aren't familiar with this story, a mosque has been planned in Murfreesboro. The plan was met with intense protest from the town residents, and Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey, who was running for governor at the time, argued that even though we have religious protection, he's not sure "whether being a Muslim is actually a religion, or ... a nationality, way of life, cult, whatever you want to call it" and "that much of Islam has come to resemble a violent political philosophy more than peace-loving religion."

We've all been watching as the rhetoric becomes more and more heated. We've all been watching as the threats against Muslims has grown. And now, the inevitable violence has finally erupted. Simply speaking, I hold those demagogues, who have been abusing their first amendment rights to foment exactly this hatred and violence, responsible for it. And let's be perfectly honest, this level of animosity cannot continue unabated without more violence.

A while back, I asked this community whether Arabs and Muslims have a place in the United States? Of course, many of you said "yes," and as a member of that group, those reassurances brought me some comfort. But I've thought a lot about that question in the past month or so, and I am finding it increasingly difficult to understand how anyone can answer "yes" anymore.

UPDATE: This diary is kind of dead, so I don't know how much good this will do, but CNNis reporting on Ahmed Sharif, the cab driver who was stabbed last week. Apparently, he's currently out of work because of his injuries. If anyone has the means to send a little help, you can do so at this link set up by the New York Taxi Workers Alliance.

Originally posted to unspeakable on Sun Aug 29, 2010 at 11:27 AM PDT.

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