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Columns

August 25, 2012

Is tolerance for each others' beliefs too much to ask?

The Daily Star — After two years of legal wrangling, a 12,000-square-foot mosque opened Aug. 10 in Murfreesboro, Tenn., a city that has 104,000 people and 140 churches but only one mosque.

After outgrowing a smaller building, Muslims in Murfreesboro  purchased 15 acres in 2009 and began construction. But after overcoming vandalism, graffiti, torched construction equipment and a bomb threat, the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro was stuck in limbo in June when Chancellor Robert E. Corlew III ruled its building permit was invalid. Federal judge Todd J. Campbell issued an order countermanding the decision July 18, and the mosque opened this month in time for the Eid celebration.

Of course the actions of a few shouldn’t tarnish Murfreesboro, a city described as welcoming by mosque board member Safaa Fathy.

“We are here 30 years and I never had a problem with the people here,” Fathy said to the Associated Press at the mosque’s opening. “It only started two years ago.”

But even though Rutherford County officials didn’t object to the mosque, it was held up by opponents who argued in court that Islam is not a valid religion worthy of First Amendment protection.

I’ll never understand this sort of intolerance. It’s the same sort of flawed logic behind the New York Police Department’s secret Muslim surveillance program — an effort that the NYPD acknowledged in court testimony unsealed this week never resulted in a single lead or terrorism investigation.

Those who consider Islam an inherently dangerous religion like to cite passages of the Quran that condone armed conflict, such as verse 8:12, which urges followers to “cast terror into the hearts of those who are bent on denying the truth; strike, then, their necks!” They tend to ignore the many similar passages from the Old Testament, such as Deuteronomy 20:16-18 and Joshua 8 and 10, which describe acts that would be classified today as war crimes.

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