Two attorneys and a Walter Hill pastor are set to hold a Tuesday meeting in Woodbury to make residents aware of what they call the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro’s attempt to spread its religion across the region.
Murfreesboro attorney Joe Brandon, Franklin attorney Tom Smith and Darrel Whaley of Kingdom Ministries Worship Center are scheduled to put on an “informative” meeting on Islam and the “Regional Islamic Training Center” at the Cannon County Senior Citizen Center, 609 Lehman St., at 6 o’clock that night.
Brandon, who represents opponents of the mosque’s construction on Veals Road just outside Murfreesboro, said Tuesday the forum is designed to let Cannon County residents know about “the harmful consequences associated with Islam.”
The forum will focus on “the fact that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is reaching out to the counties contiguous with Rutherford County and how this particular situation was mishandled and the rights of the citizens of Rutherford County were railroaded and how the citizens of Cannon County can make sure this doesn’t happen to them,” Brandon said.
Brandon contends Islam is harmful because it’s “impossible” for the U.S. Constitution and Shariah law, the code of Islam, to co-exist.
Furthermore, he said, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has a “direct link” with the Muslim Brotherhood, considered a radical organization, because the reading list of ICM Imam Ossama Bahloul included members of the brotherhood. The Muslim Brotherhood is a religious and political group that advocates moving away from secularism and returning to Quranic teaching.
A flyer sent out by the group states that the ICM posted on its website in June 2010 that members wanted future efforts to ensure the “masjid’s stronghold of our community and to expand beyond religious teachings into an Islamic social institution to include all ages.”
“We must work hard so that the ICM have a prominent role in the development and progression of not only Murfreesboro, but all of Middle Tennessee,” it states.
In addition, the flyer states the ICM wanted its community to work with the Rutherford County School Board to offer Arabic as a second language, which “would be a great achievement in the name of Allah.”
The mosque’s proposed 59,000-square-foot building on Veals Road southeast of Murfreesboro is supposed to have a gymnasium, swimming pool, worship area, offices and numerous other rooms, in addition to outdoor activities areas. ICM leaders call it a long-term building plan.
The flier points out that the ICM website said it serves Murfreesboro, Shelbyville, Christiana, Manchester, Tullahoma, Lebanon, La Vergne, Bell Buckle, Smyrna, Woodbury, Eagleville and Beech Grove.
ICM spokesman Saleh Sbenaty, an MTSU professor, responded Tuesday by calling the Woodbury forum an attempt by a “few radicals” to push a “fear and smear” campaign in the region.
“We all work hard to show how great our city, county and state are to help attract new jobs and improve our economy, yet this issue’s being dragged again against the wishes of most of our residents,” Sbenaty stated. “Our community has been the subject of bullying, intimidation, vandalisms, arson, lawsuits, and it seems that we are about to endure another cycle of the same.”
Sbenaty said it’s no surprise that “Brandon and his fear-mongering cult” would use a “cheap-shot tactic” at about the same time the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office played host to law enforcement training by an anti-Shariah group at World Outreach Church last week.
Mosque opponents, spearheaded by Brandon, wasted taxpayers’ money and time through days of court testimony trying to show the ICM is a danger to the community, Sbenaty said, adding now they are laying the groundwork for an April 25 court hearing.
Chancellor Robert Corlew ruled that the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro should be allowed to construct its mosque, based on the tenets of First Amendment freedom of religion, as well as the county’s zoning ordinance. Corlew, however, gave mosque opponents an opportunity to challenge whether the county gave proper public notice before the Regional Planning Committee voted to approve the mosque site plan.
Pastor Whaley said Tuesday the forum will focus on an update of the lawsuit against the ICM’s construction and to make Cannon County residents aware they’re involved in the mosque’s regional efforts.
“Muslims aren’t the problem,” Whaley said. “It’s Islam we’re against.”
“We Christians, we love them,” he noted. “We’re reaching out to them to offer them Christ.”
At the Tuesday event, Whaley said, he will outline Islam’s seven-step plan for taking over the world, five steps of which are complete.
“It may sound radical to liberals, but it’s really what they’re going for,” he said.
Cannon County Senior Citizen Center Director Connie Rigsby said Tuesday that Whaley had rented the building and put down a $100 deposit, but said she was unaware of the meeting’s intent other than that it was a “debate with two attorneys from Murfreesboro over a church situation.”
Rigsby said the senior center doesn’t dictate the types of events allowed for rentals. Because of the volatility of the issue, she said she would check to see if more security is needed.