Saturday morning an inferno, believed to be deliberately set, destroyed one vehicle and damaged three others at the proposed future site of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro. FBI Assistant Special Agent Keith Moses said an investigation was underway to determine what started the fire.
Camie Ayash, a spokeswoman for the center, stated that the community was suffering from a new fear due to the blaze. According to Ayash, explaining the situation to their children was the hardest part.
The Middle Tennesseans for Religious Freedom held a candlelight vigil on Monday night as a response to the arson. The group wanted to ensure that the community knew that the individuals responsible for the arson did not speak for the entire community.
The FBI, ATF and Rutherford County sheriff’s office are all investigating the incident. According to Ayash, an accelerate was used to set the vehicles on fire. She had been notified of the problem at 4:00am Saturday. The fire was reported when a passerby saw the flames at 1:30am and called the fire department. It is believed that the witness may have scared off the culprit.
The center was taken by surprise when the protests began. The group has been meeting in a different location a mile away for more than a decade, and many members have lived in the area for 30 or more years. The current location is not large enough to house the congregation, so they planned to upgrade. The proposed upgrades included not only a mosque, but also educational facilities, a gym, a cemetery and recreational areas.