Responding to Wednesday’s act of vandalism against the Al-Farooq mosque in South Nashville a group of more than 30 people came together this morning to remove graffiti, and to reaffirm our collective spirit as a welcoming city, by repainting the building’s walls.
One long time member of Nashville’s Islamic community (who was not present at this morning’s event) stated that until this week his family has always felt safe and welcome in Nashville. He said “not even after 9/11 did we feel like targets, just this week after Inside Islamville aired did we feel that some people who have been friends to us and known our family and business for years, watched the children grow together, are now looking at us with suspicion in their eyes.” Elias Feghali,of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition said that “While the events of this week certainly shocked Tennesseans of all creeds and colors, Muslims in our state have been on the receiving end of hatred and violence before.” Feghali also related how the individuals who vandalized Al-Farooq are examples of a dwindling extremist minority and that their acts tarnish the name of the vast majority of Tennesseans who reject intolerance and welcome newcomers regardless of their faith.
Yesterday Mayor Dean and Metro Police Chief Serpas, visited the mosque to express their concern over the crime and to assure the community that this incident will be fully investigated. The act of vandalism is now being treated as a hate crime by both the Metro Police Department and the FBI.
Tomorrow The Islamic Center of Nashville will host an open house featuring an interfaith discussion panel titled “Nashville Stands with the Muslim Community: Why Violence Against One Community Hurts Us All.” The open house will begin at 11:00 am. Ethnic foods will be available and the public is invited to attend. The Islamic Center of Nashville is located at 2515 12th Avenue South.