In a refreshing act of journalism, the Tennessean's religion editor, Bob Smietana, has interviewed several Muslim members of the Middle Tennessee community. The interviews reflect universal pride in American military success, as well as relief about the death of the world's most notorious Muslim terrorist.
A sampling of quotes:
God will handle him and will serve justice. The truth is that I can neither rejoice nor mourn the occasion.
It doesn’t take away the hurt. But we hope it will bring some peace to the families who lost people in 9/11.
Great day for not only America but the free world to have gotten rid of this menace and preacher of intolerance, hatred and violence ... I am very proud as an American and a Marine.
Just because bin Laden has gone away doesn’t mean his ideology has gone away. We need to stand firm in the name of humanity.
He has no place in the paradise of God. This is the promise of God: Justice will catch up with you. Now bin Laden has to face his Lord and give an account for the souls that he killed.
Many of those Muslims interviewed have been targets of religious persecution and domestic terrorism in Tennessee, as they face the backlash of angry (and mostly Christian) Southern whites who perceive Muslims as a threat and adherents of a false religion.
In Columbia, Tennessee - located about 45 miles south of downtown Nashville - a small mosque was burned down by a group of three white men in their 20s who specifically targeted the storefront place of worship because of their Islamophobic views:
During the plea hearing Golden and Stone admitted to constructing Molotov cocktails, breaking into the Islamic Center, igniting the devices and using them to destroy the mosque. The men further admitted that they had committed these actions due to the religious component of the building.
A third defendant charged in the case, Eric Ian Baker, 32, has not yet entered a plea.
Authorities claim the three men went to the Islamic Center, where Baker allegedly spray-painted swastikas and the words "White Power" on the walls, while Golden and Stone broke in and ignited the Molotov cocktails.
A Muslim group in Murfreesboro has faced consistent criticism, persecution, and attacks from so-called Christian groups who claim that a proposed mosque would harm their neighborhood. (Ginormous Baptist church additions are ok, however.)
Despite these continued acts of discrimination, carried out against many Muslims who came to the United States to escape religious persecution and extremism in their countries of origin, the Muslim community in Middle Tennessee perseveres. The death of Osama Bin Laden is giving many Tennessee Muslims hope that the post 9/11 atmosphere of hatred and suspicion will give way to a renewed sense of community.
The good ol' boys at Red State Update have a redneck reflection up on YouTube as well:
Updated by Benintn at Tue May 03, 2011 at 09:29 AM CDT
I encourage you to post your local news reports in the comments below. Let this serve as a community diary with reflections on how we treat Muslims in our neighborhood.