The Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives is offering a $20,000 reward for leads that result in the arrest of the arsonist who set fire to construction equipment at the future home of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
Police and firefighters responded to the blaze on August 28. The BATFE has confirmed that the incident is in fact arson and that chemical accelerants were used in the fire. The fire occurred in the wake of a media storm surrounding the proposed construction of a similar Islamic center in Manhattan two blocks from Ground Zero.
Gubernatorial candidates Democrat Mike McWherter and Republican Bill Haslam have chimed in on the subject condemning the violent actions while stating that the crisis can best be handled as a local zoning issue. Apparently, the ability of people to legally acquire property and develop it for worship should be decided by local zoning boards. As an atheist and antitheist, I never enjoy seeing more houses of worship being developed, but the thinking that goes behind the statements of both candidates are laced with an air of moral superiority that has been typical of outspoken anti-Islamists in the preceeding weeks.
The Christian high and mighty in Middle Tennessee have been very quick to lump the small, peaceful Muslim community in Rutherford County and surrounding areas with the radical jihadists of Al Qaeda. This only shows them for the bigots that they are. A commenter on my last article insisted that establishing any moral equivalency between Christianity and Islam was absurd. Obviously that commenter does not believe that Christianity has any blood on its hands, and he would be well served by reading up on the Crusades and the Salem Witch Trials, just to name two high-profile instances of hate, rash judgment, and persecution perpetrated by his own faith.
To those that set fire to the construction equipment, we must wonder if they know that what they did is in fact the very definition of terrorism.