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tv   CNN Presents  CNN  August 18, 2012 11:00pm-12:00am PDT

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hostess. eva restaurant wants to feel like they are at home having dinner with the family. your mother would not allow it and the restaurant is hoping for the same. looks like it's working. they estimate 40 to 50% of >> they had the words "not welcome" there. that's a very clear sign. >> get the [ bleep ] out of the state. >> someone in the middle of the night doused these engines with gasoline. >> this is violent. >> we have filed a lawsuit to
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stop the building of the mosque. >> they can claim religion all they want, but it don't mean you're going to come in here and do this in rutherford county. >> it's my right as an american citizen to have a place of worship. >> murfreesboro is kind of a small, big town. it's a beautiful place where family can live and grow and be a part of a community. very loving community. >> we love murfreesboro, and we love it for the most part the way it is and the way it has been. >> it doesn't matter what religion you are, what race you are, whatever. the people here are so welcoming. >> talk to the residents of murfreesboro, tennessee, and they'll tell you the strength of their city lies in its close-knit community and strong religious faith.
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the city has 104,000 people. more than 140 churches. and one mosque. for decades, muslims have lived and prayed alongside their neighbors. but in june 2010, their place in the community was questioned. exposing a growing fear of islam in america, ten years after the attacks of 9/11. >> we, as citizens, we have families and we have children in this community, and we're trying to look out for our future. >> we thank you for your love! we thank you for your joy! kevin fisher has lived in murfreesboro for 20 years. >> god, if we get a little too high -- >> he's a corrections officer and a single father. in may of 2010, kevin was
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stunned to discover local officials had approved plans for a 53,000 square foot islamic center in his hometown. >> the neighbors were outraged that something of this nature was being basically shoved down our throats and we didn't know anything about it. >> a month later, the typically sleepy county commission meeting was anything but. >> so many people turned up for the public hearing, authorities wouldn't let them all in. >> i'm very happy to see this many people here that are really standing up. >> a few residents complained about the lack of notice of the mosque plan. >> i would respectfully ask for an expanded public hearing again. >> virtually everyone else spoke out against the threat of islam. >> everybody knows who's trying to kill us, and it's like we can't say it. >> i would encourage the boycott of any contractor associated with the project. thank you. >> our country was founded
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through the founding fathers, through the true god, the father and jesus christ. >> i'm sorry, but they seem to be against everything that i believe in, and so i don't want them necessarily in my neighborhood. >> that concludes our public comment period. thank you very much. >> local officials refused to reconsider their unanimous approval of the plan. ♪ god bless america >> woo! >> we decided to hold a march so that america, the whole world, everybody could see these people didn't get notice, so that's what we did. >> ignore their intolerance. we know why we're here. >> we call the county commission to halt the process of this mosque. >> under sharia law, there is no freedom of speech. >> among those marching against the mosque plan was prominent local resident and real estate developer sally wall. >> my fourth great-grandmother was first woman buried in a marked grave in rutherford county.
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that's how long we've been here. and i think that has quite a bit to do with how you feel abou what happens here in the community. >> also marching, sally's husband howard wall, a local power broker and former republican county chairman. >> i always thought other people marched. i didn't have to march, but who am i not to march? i wanted to show my interest in my community and my country. >> here is this enormous building, which is going to be occupied by people who are of the same religion that the people are who we're fighting in afghanistan, who we have been fighting in iraq. >> why are they building a mosque that's nearly 53,000 square feet? that's a lot of square footage and it's going to be a very expensive thing. now, are 200 families, or 200 muslims, however many there are, how are they going to pay for it?
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i know when we expanded our church, we're still paying for it. >> other residents opposed to the mosque plan included ronald todd. for 93 years, todd's family owned the land sold at auction to the muslims in murfreesboro. todd says his grandparents are turning over in their graves because the land is being used to build a mosque. >> they worship another god than what i'm accustomed to worship. i've heard some rumors about a different law they go by, but if i live in tennessee, i live by tennessee law and the law of the united states of america. >> my name is luan zelnick and we are a group of citizens. >> several local politicians seized on the issue, like luann zelnick, who ran for congress in tennessee. >> we are joining with so many who feel that they're concerned because it is not the christians, it is not the jews that flew airplanes into the buildings. >> a strange place for a huge
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mosque. >> even televangelist pat robertson weighed in on the proposed mosque. >> you mark my word, if they start bringing thousands and thousands of muslims into that relatively rural area, the next thing you know, they're going to be taking over the city council. >> more suspicions were raised after opponents claimed a member of the mosque had posted this photo of the leaders of hamas. a u.s.-labeled terrorist group on his myspace page. he was suspended from the mosque for two months. >> a post-9/11 world, we should be a little suspicious of any group trying to relocate to this community. >> freedom! >> but many in murfreesboro supported the mosque plan. the protest march that june day drew hundreds of people of different faiths rallying in support of religious freedom. >> organized this rally in order to show support for the first amendment right of murfrsboro
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residents to worship the way that they see fit. >> i think we should all be free to practice our religion. >> among the mosque supporters, lema sbenaty, an 18-year-old muslim in murfreesboro. >> first amendment applies to this! >> you can just see -- like in their eyes, you can see that hate. >> i didn't say to hate them. i'm just saying we don't need them here. >> do you hear that? >> there's some shots fired. >> yes. >> oh! >> the explosive fight over religion in murfreesboro was just beginning. >> murfreesboro, tennessee, police department. b besest t l. eveverery y titimeme o of f. ououtdtdoooorsrs, , oro. trtranansisititiononss® ls auautotomamatiticacalllly y fift ththe e ririghght t amamouountn. soso y youou s seeee e eveg ththe e waway y itit is memeanant t toto b be e ses. mamaybybe e evevenen a lilittttlele b betette.
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...we inspected his brakes for free. free is good. free is very good. my money. my choice. my meineke. the muslims don't believe in it, honey. i was in the military! i've been over there! >> the fact that i've lived here for so long and i've never seen this side of anyone before. sometimes i still wake up and i'm like, is this really happening? >> read the koran, all infidels must die! >> to have all of these people come out and openly say we're against this religion was very shocking.
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>> this mosque that they're trying to build, all it is is a training center. >> i don't want anybody in there creating something that can be used to attack us. >> i know they're afraid for their country. but to label all the muslims and the muslim community in murfreesboro in particular to be terrorists, this is nonsense. >> salah sbenaty has lived in murfreesboro for 20 years. it's where he and his wife fatun raise their two daughters, lema and dima, and their son salim. >> do you feel not welcome? >> no. to the contrary, actually. this is one of the most beautiful cities in the united states. the people over here are extremely, extremely hospitable and nice. how do we control two displays -- >> salah is an engineering professor at middle tennessee state university in murfreesboro. he was born in syria. >> i'm, like, banking on lab to save my grade in that class.
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>> his daughters are students at mtsu. both were high school valedictorians. >> there were a few other muslim students, but not very many at all. >> the sbenatys say they've always felt welcome in murfreesboro, even after 9/11. >> two days afterward, people whom we did not know stopped us and say please, don't be afraid. we are the same. we're going to treat you in the same way. >> professor sbenaty arrived in middle tennessee in 1980. only ten muslim families lived in murfreesboro then. their mosque was a small one-bedroom apartment. today, there are 250 muslim families living in murfreesboro. the current mosque is often packed beyond capacity. >> there is really no place for us to pray or eat or do activities with the kids.
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>> people are usually praying on the sidewalk and in the parking lot. >> but do you know, it can be simple. if we all do it together. >> pushed by the center's imam, osama bahloul, the congregation pooled their money in 2009 to purchase a 15-acre parcel of land on the outskirts of town. it would be land for their new islamic center. where did you get the money from? >> we had a fund-raising and raised $320,000 to buy the land. >> in one fund-raising, here in murfreesboro? >> yes, here. >> when you first walked the land, describe that feeling for me. >> it's exactly like a homeless who has found the most beautiful home, and it's a long journey. a lot of pain to get there. a lot of effort. and then, finally, you are about to sit down and say, wow, it feels good.
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>> their vision was to build the new facility in stages. there would be a school, a gym, a swimming pool, a cemetery and a 10,000-square foot mosque. for the younger generations of muslims in murfreesboro, the plans represented progress. when you first heard about the new building being built, what was your reaction? >> we went from a one-bedroom apartment that was divided by a sheet to, you know, having this piece of 15-acre land. i hate to be cliche, but it was a dream come true. >> in november 2009, the congregation put up a sign announcing the future site of the islamic center. then it was vandalized. with a simple, but disturbing, message, "not welcome." what did it feel like when that sign had "not welcome," for someone who has lived here her
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whole life, pretty much? >> it hit hard. they had the words "not welcome" there, and that's a very clear sign. >> we thought it was an individual act. the sign company said, we will make you a new sign for free. >> a second sign put up at the site was cut in half eight months later. a disturbing preview of the days and months ahead, as fear and suspicion would threaten to derail the mosque project and turn neighbor against neighbor. >> we're asking for those individuals who know who may be responsible for this crime to come forward with that information. a kid. i didn't know how i was gonna to do it, but i knew i was gonna get that opportunity one day, and that's what happened with university of phoenix. nothing can stop me now. i feel like the sky's the limit with what i can do and what i can accomplish.
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late august, ramadan. for muslims, the holiest time of the year. a time of reflection, praying and fasting. but for the muslims in murfreesboro, august 2010 was a time of unease. ♪ their plans to build a new house of worship had produced strong opposition. members of the congregation sought answers from the imam. >> some of them were concerned. some of them were scared. some of them couldn't understand
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why. this why, i couldn't provide it for them. >> imam osama bahloul came from egypt to america in 2004 to lead a small mosque in irving, texas. >> i consider myself a texan without a texas accent. >> deep in the heart of texas, bahloul learned english and learned that in post-9/11 america, freedom of religion didn't mean freedom from suspicion. >>nd i learn that i have to be careful because some people have an idea about muslims and it is not a good one. >> father! >> yes! >> it was at the mosque in texas where imam osama met his future wife, ivy. >> i was raised methodist. >> you, shortly after 9/11, decided to convert. >> correct. >> for many people, converting to islam would be the last thing they would do.
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>> well, i think that anyone who has ever known someone that is muslim and would hear the things that were being said, it just didn't make sense. so i picked up a book, and then i picked up another one, and another one, until i read the koran. and then i contacted the local mosque in my area. i've had a couple of comments because i am an american muslim. some people feel like you're a traitor. how could you become one of them? >> this architect built so many mosques around the area. >> despite strong opposition, by late summer, imam osama and other leaders of the congregation decided to go forward with the first phase of their project, grading and leveling the land. >> we did not have any kind of celebration. >> why not? you could have done a big groundbreaking. that's how these things ually go.
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>> we don't want to aggravate people's feelings. >> the low-key beginning did little to silence opponents who felt their concerns weren't being heard. >> i think they have a right to expand, but i think that the public has a right to say, wait a minute, there are some concerns here. >> kevin fisher, who had led the protest march against the planned islamic center, said traffic was a big concern. >> by their own admission, they're going to draw people from all over the county. now, you're going to put a whole lot of new drivers in the back roads of tennessee. >> concerns were also raised about the cemetery on the site. already one elderly muslim had been buried there. >> you have well water out there. you have people who are going to be drawing off the same source. so according to their tradition, they don't bury with a casket,
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they don't bury with a vault. >> so you're telling me a casket protecting a body is going to change the quality of the water versus a body that's not in a casket? >> it could. absolutely. >> how much of this also is you just don't want a mosque in that neighborhood? >> not one person i know of or friends of mine or people who have read anything i've read have ever saidhey don't have a right to worship. they have a right to worship however they see fit. >> i feel like what they're doing is kind of taking things and throwing them at the wall and seeing what sticks. and it hasn't really stuck very well, but i think they're still trying. >> does it feel like people are in a war with islam? >> yes, there's no doubt. >> do you feel like people here are in a war with islam? >> some them, yes. there's no doubt also, i am very comfortable to say this. >> so you saved some of the messages? >> yes, i did. >> there were disturbing voice mails. >> tuesday, 6:27 a.m. >> islam is a [ bleep ]. like the rest of you queer bitches. get the [ bleep ] out of the state.
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>> so what did you think when you heard that the first time? >> i couldn't believe that i heard this, and -- and i -- i was shocked, i would say. yes. and i don't like the term go back home. we are american. and i guess this is our home. and everyone has to realize this. >> in late august 2010, construction was barely under way when members of the congregation received the disturbing news -- a fire in the middle of the night had damaged equipment at the construction site. >> and i looked at this site and the tears started to come down, you know? it's, why? you know, what did we do? >> leaders of the congregation
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came to assess the damage. >> it's a natural growth to our community, i mean, we are growing -- >> suddenly, our interview was interrupted by the sound of gunfire. >> there are some shots fired. >> yes. >> oh. >> yeah. do you hear that? >> murfreesboro, tennessee, police department. >> fear had replaced concern. >> i'm not understanding here. i don't know. >> she's scared. that's what they are trying to do. it's a terrorist act. >> i heard very loud shots coming from this way. >> all right. hang on. we're going to go up there and check for you. >> yeah. yeah. >> it may very well be hunters. we're going to check it out. we have plenty of guys in the area. >> thank you. >> we'll make sure we document, at least your concerns, so you have something to show we're looking into it. >> thank you so much. appreciate it. we are grateful. >> okay. all right. >> appreciate it.
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>> bye-bye. >> this is sad. the whole issue is sad. >> let's hope it's a hunter and it's not something that was done intentional. because i know this community. it's a good community. >> people can't -- don't have to be scared like this in america. this is america. what is this? people can disagree with each other kindly, but violence like this is nonsense. this is violent. for children to be scared in the mosque, it's bad. for all of the people to be worried about their safety, this is sad. this is sad. this is too much. this is enough, i guess. enough. enough. enough. >> days after the suspicious fire, imam osama addressed his congregation.
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>> i believe those people are opposing this project, they do not understand! the consequences of what they are doing, they are damaging the kids while they are damaging the image of this country! >> protests, vandalism, and now a suspicious fire. >> let's go! >> yet the fight over the planned islamic center of murfreesboro was just beginning. >> what we're saying to the court is, they can claim religion all they want, but it don't mean you're going to come in here and dohis in rutherford county. i didn't know how i was gonna to do it, but i knew i was gonna get that opportunity one day, and that's what happened with university of phoenix. nothing can stop me now. i feel like the sky's the limit with what i can do and what i can accomplish. my name is naphtali bryant and i am a phoenix. visit to find the program that's right for you.
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being offered for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of person or persons responsible for committing arson on august 28 -- >> a suspicious fire had damaged equipment at the construction site of a new mosque in murfreesboro, tennessee. days later, the fbi confirmed the muslim community's worst fears. it was arson. >> somebody knows something. >> we must speak up for the freedom and the liberty of every person. >> while many in the community gathered to condemn the arson, some opponents had a different take. >> it didn't make sense to me. >> influential real estate developer sally wall had her doubts. so you think it was faked? >> honestly, i do, and of course, i might be wrong. >> to what end? why would someone fake their own -- >> i don't know. now, now, here's one of those
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"they say" things. i'm told that they do that everywhere they go, to make people think everybody's against us. now, i'm not saying i think that is true. it could be. >> i think it was premature to automatically assume that it was a hate crime. but i'll tell you this, i disagree with violence. when you start having to rely on intimidating people to get your point across, i think you lose all your validity. >> testing, one, two, three. >> for months, kevin fisher and other opponents had tried everything to halt the construction of the 53,000-square foot islamic center. >> hey, how you doing? we went through every conceivable means to ensure that our rights were upheld. the meetings at the commission, we went through petitions, we went through speaking with our representatives, our mayor.
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>> armed with his bullhorn, fisher attended another commission meeting in september, once again to press local officials to halt construction of the mosque. >> i'm full down here, sir. you can try upstairs. >> he's the one who told me i couldn't go in and speak. >> the meeting was so crowded, he couldn't get in. >> next on our list -- >> lema sbenaty, a member of the muslim community, did get to speak. >> so, you see, i'm actually not very different from any of you or your kids or your grandkids, except for one thing. i was born and raised as a patriotic american muslim. on september 11th, 2001, my religion was hijacked by extremists. >> you have nothing to fear, but fear itself. >> i can't listen to this anymore. that's garbage. >> frustrated, fisher walked out of the commission meeting and made a surprising announcement. >> we have filed a lawsuit to stop the building of the mosque. >> later that night, lema
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sbenaty found herself face-to-face with luan zelnick who had denounced the mosque project. >> and a lot of people stand with me. >> zelnick had finished second in the republican primary. >> i don't understand why you all are not outraged with the rights of children and females under sharia law. >> ma'am, i'm a muslim. >> i think you're wonderful. >> thank you. >> i have muslims to call me. >> and i don't feel oppressed by anyone. >> i'm glad you haven't, but what about others who have? >> who? who in this county that is a woman has been oppressed by anyone? >> are you-- are you through? >> i've never seen anyone in murfreesboro, any woman in murfreesboro, tennessee, that has been oppressed by any man that is muslim. >> oka would you interview her? i think she's great -- she really wants to take over and -- >> no, go ahead. go ahead, go ahead. >> i think you're really important. >> true to his word, in late september, kevin fisher and
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three other murfreesboro residents filed their lawsuit to immediately block the construction of the mosque project. >> the lawsuit is simply seeking to do an investigation of this group, to find out exactly where this group stands and whether it poses any kind of risk to the community. >> all those having business before this court, please come forward and you shall be heard. >> judge, we're here today on an issue of a temporary restraining order. >> the suit claimed local officials failed to give the community adequate notice there would be a vote on the mosque planned by the county's planning commission. >> we're talking about a 52,000 square foot facili. >> defense attorney josh mccreary argued that under county law, religious facilities are exempt from public hearings. >> and when you look at the law, they do not have a valid complaint and they certainly are not entitled to an injunction.
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>> but it quickly became clear, plaintiff attorney joe brandon was going to argue that the islamic center of murfreesboro was not a religious facility because islam is not a religion. >> mr. gross, do you believe the islamic center of murfreesboro is a religious institution? >> i do not know enough about the center. i know that islam is practiced there by talking to the people who go there. >> is islam a religion? >> in my opinion? >> yes. >> yes, sir. >> what do you base that on? >> they have a belief in a deity, an afterlife. >> you s an afterlife. is that like when you yell "allah akbar" and blow yourself up and a bunch of people and you get seven virgins? is that the afterlife you're talking about? where you strap a bomb on your chest, blow up unsuspecting people that didn't know anything about you the day before so you get you some virgins? is that the afterlife that you're calling a religion? >> it's a religion. i do not know if that's what they practice there, sir. i know some muslims believe that.
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some i've talked to don't. >> do you believe allah and god is the same? >> your honor, none of this is relevant, your honor! >> do you know what that says? >> allah akbar. >> during the hearings, several local residents took to the stand to link the mosque project to the threat of radical islam. >> this organization is presenting themselves as a peace-loving organization and, in actuality, some of their leadership is radical. >> i think every law-abiding citizen in the united states of america should stand up against sharia law. >> sally wall was in court almost every day. she helped fund the lawsuit. >> every time you turn on the tv, every time you pick up the paper, there is a radical muslim this and terrorist that, and you can't really overlook it, unless you can't read and can't hear. look at europe, and i've traveled quite a bit. they have got a problem that they never dreamed of.
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>> in europe, various political parties have rallied against the spread of radical islam in their countries. >> 60% want sharia law in this country. >> i don't think so. >> leading several european governments to pass laws limiting the religious freedom of muslims, including a ban on the construction of minarets in switzerland and, in france, a ban on islamic face veils. mosque must go! mosque must go! >> no mosque here! no mosque here! >> never! >> in the united states, concerns about mosque projects have generated protests from new york to california. >> in islam, a mosque means we have conquered this country. >> and in middle tennessee, in the last three years, two mosques within 50 miles of murfreesboro have been targeted by hate, including one burned to the ground. >> there are other problems at other mosques.
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why not just not build it? >> because it's my right. it's my right as a human being. it's my right as an american citizen to have a place of worship. >> do you understand people's fear? the 9/11 hijackers used religion. >> i definitely understand people's fears, but you can't possibly, you know, have this veil that covers everyone under one religion, just because of something that a few people committed. >> your honor, this is a circus, is what this is. >> no, not really. not really. >> inside the courtroom, the fight to halt the islamic center of murfreesboro would continue. >> why would we extend to any religion the right to cancel out the constitution for which we're founded upon? ♪ [ sneezes ] [ male announcer ] you may be an allergy muddler.
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well that was uncalled for. uhh... mr. gallagher. incoming!!! hahaha! it's wasteful. you know jimmy. folks who save hundreds of dollars switching to geico sure are happy. how happy, ronny? happier than gallagher at a farmers' market. get happy. get geico. fifteen minutes could save you fifteen percent or more. mr. jordan, where are you employed? >> i'm a county commissioner. >> can you envision in your wildest dreams how something could be called a religion tha promotes the abuse, physical abuse, of women? >> i wouldn't call it a religion, but i'm not the one that makes the definition of what is a religion. >> in a small courtroom in murfreesboro, tennessee, islam was on trial. >> i've been under the impression that islam has been a religion for thousands of years, whether i agree with it or not. >> you know, if it was sharia
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law, you wouldn't even be out here right now. >> the planned construction of a new islamic center had divided this small city. >> they should have the freedom to build a mosque here. >> opponents claimed the facility would increase traffic, damage water quality, and provide a foothold for radical muslims and islamic law. >> this particular case cries out for a revocation of the permit. >> lema sbenaty, a muslim born and raised in murfreesboro, attended the hearing. >> sharia law dictates the beating and physical abuse of women with a whip. you're to hang a whip up in your house and if your wife or girlfriend does not submit, you're to use the whip against her. >> when the opposition talks about sharia law, they talk about it coming here to america. >> yes. >> oppressing women, torture, beating. do they have it wrong? >> yes, they do. a lot of things that are culture have been mistaken for religion. the koran that i have read has
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never said torture was okay for anyone or beating women, you know, was okay. none of this is okay. >> what sharia is is a way of life. you know? i am mandated as a muslim to pray five times. i am mandated to fast during the month of ramadan, and i'm mandated, if i am able to go and do pilgrimage, that's sharia law for me. >> sharia, according to muslims, is god's word on how you're supposed to live your life. >> noah feldman is a professor of international law at harvard. he's written several books on islam and sharia law. >> if you look across the muslim world, you can see a lot of difference in how customs and practices operate among people, all of whom believe they're following the sharia. as a general matter, the sharia is what you make of it and there are plenty of muslims who interpret the sharia in a progressive way so that it's equal towards women and progressive towards women.
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>> prominent murfreesboro resident sally wall helped organize the lawsuit. she's convinced sharia law isn't harmless. during our conversation, she showed me a photo of a woman punished under taliban rule. and this is the cover of "time" magazine. >> exactly. >> horribly disfigured. >> right. and she didn't have any ears either. >> you're realistically worried that this could happen here? >> i certainly am. it happened to her. >> in afghanistan. >> i understand. >> there are large muslim populations in the united states already. >> i know that. >> i mean, new york city, we have a big muslim population. >> i know that. >> there's no sharia law in new york city. >> it is creeping in, though, i believe. and i think it will creep in, as there are more muslims coming here, because that's what they've taught. i think they should try to come into the 21st century. >> meaning, do what? >> assimilate. if you would quit covering, you would find this a much easier place to live.
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>> obviously, i'm not oppressed. i'm married to the imam in the mosque. if anyone was going to inflict sharia law or whatever, obviously, it would be my husband. you know, we make the decisions here in the house as a family, just as anyone else would do. >> bye, mom. >> bye, i love you. have a good day at school. >> should americans be worried about sharia law? >> our constitution prohibits, explicitly, any religious system becoming the established law of our country. so such a thing would be completely unimaginable in our country, a rightly so. >> is sharia a religion? >> during the nine-day hearing to stop the building of the mosque -- >> there are people out there who have all kinds of beliefs. >> 23 witnesses were called to testify. not one was a member of the murfreesboro mosque. >> i do. >> if they practice sharia law, would it still be your opinion that this is a religion? >> i don't know.
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>> in october 2010, in the middle of the hearing, attorneys from the federal department of justice took the uncommon step of delivering a message to the judge in the case, a reminder that according to the u.s. government, islam is plainly a religion. >> we want to be allowed to ask questions. my position is, how do you believe anything if you don't question it? and the issue of whether islam is a religion has never been decided. >> i thought islam was considered to be one of the three great religions, right? >> can you tell me what you base that on? >> scholars have said that. people who study it have said that. >> well, you can find an expert to testify hell's an icehouse too. they can claim religion all they want, but it don't mean you're going to come in here and do this in rutherford county. >> counsel, we very much appreciate -- >> the judge's decision would surprise both sides in the fight.
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by november 2010, as the first phase of the murfreesboro mosque continued, five miles away, a hearing to halt the
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construction was drawing to a close. >> jihad is when -- >> throughout the trial, the plaintiff attorney joe brandon tried to link the murfreesboro mosque project to jihad and sharia law. >> does it make you want to look at it with a jaundice eye? >> even the county's mayor, a cattle farmer and lifelong rutherford county resident, and a christian, found himself under attack. >> sharia law says the united states constitution is based upon ignorance. >> i would not support those things that you just read. >> why'd you vote this place in for? >> we didn't approve sharia law when we approved this site plan. >> you would think your elected officials would care more about the needs and the concerns of the community than about an entity that we know nothing about. >> plaintiff kevin fisher was hopeful the judge would stop the project. >> with all my heart and all my ul, i believe we're doing the right thing. >> you do? >> i really do. >> you're 100% certain? >> i pray about it every night.
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>> how have the last nine months been? >> upsetting. very upsetting. >> what's been the worst thing? >> the effect i think that it's had on the children in the community. >> your daughter, specifically? >> she said -- she had concern about me wearing a scarf out in public. >> what do you tell her when she says, are you going to wear a scarf? >> that it's okay. that the people don't hate us, that this is -- that there's maybe a few people that are not happy. >> do you think people hate you? >> no, i don't think so. i think that people don't understand what islam is and what muslims are. >> the threat of subverse sharia. >> after nine days of arguments -- >> that's hearsay, your honor. >> the judge, chancellor robert corleu, delivered his decision. >> it's our duty at this time to deny the temporary injunctive relief that the plaintiff had sought. >> joe brandon had lost. the construction of the mosque at murfreesboro would be allowed to continue. >> we're not privileged to render decisions in accordance
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with our own opinions, whims, or desires. we must follow the law. >> should you have focused more on there was a lack of transparency, the commissioners did not do their job, more on that and less on -- less talk about sharia law? >> my answer to that is no. we hope to have this case ultimately before the u.s. supreme court to make a determination of whether or not sharia law can co-exist with the u.s. constitution. >> will you try to stop the construction again? >> no. we're going to continue with lawsuits. >> on what grounds? >> i'm not sure what the grounds are going to be this time. but there will be another suit, i believe. >> i hope it is the end of it, but my gut feeling is that it may not. >> why? >> because these people are determined. the construction of this islamic center is going to continue. >> if they build a mosque, that's their business. and their religion is their business. but when they try to put in
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sharia law and usurp my beloved constitution, then that gets on the fighting side of me. >> if you are saying to me, are you going to give up? no. no. if they are fighting this until the end of it, we will do the same and even more. and we'll have something they don't have. we'll have the constitution on our side. >> have you met the muslims in murfreesboro? i've known muslims forever. >> sure. my sister lived in saudi arabia. my brother lived in iran. certainly i have. >> have you met the ones involved in the mosque here? >> you know, i have not. they have ma no effort to get in touch with me, and i have made no effort to get in touch with them. younger people think that i am a bigot and that i am against freedom of religion -- >> are you?
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>> -- for the muslims. i'm not a bigot. >> are you against freedom of religion for muslims? >> no. i think we're worried about our american way of life. it would be great if the muslims would try harder to realize that. that it's not something personal against them. >> i would rather you and i sit here 20 years from now and you interview me and say, you know what? i was wrong. i was completely wrong about them. they've been wonderful, they're peaceful. but you know what? what if i'm right? >> look down the road ten years. how does murfreesboro look to you? >> i think it's going to look like before this whole thing started. i think it's going to die down, eventually, and i'm really hoping that some of our opposition -- i invite kevin fisher to the mosque whenever it's built and hopefully they'll see that there's really nothing
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to be afraid of. >> after two years of construction and more legal challenges brought on by the opposition, on august 10th, the muslim congregation held its first prayer service in its new mosque. >> today we can celebrate the importance of unity. >> it was a day for celebration and reflection. >> in the beginning, we thought that, you know, we would never be able to have this just because of all of the opposition we faced and all the hatred that we faced. >> the new mosque has been built, but opponents like kevin fisher say the fight to preserve and protect their community is far from over. >> i think that certainly there are still a lot of issues to be dealt with with our community. however, i do believe that this building is going to help us with that. hopefully in the end, you know, those misconceptions and those


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