Vandalized Murfreesboro Mosque Plans To Ask For State, Federal Investigation

Jul 10, 2017

A prominent mosque in Rutherford County plans to ask state and federal law enforcement to investigate an act of vandalism that occurred early Monday morning.

Members of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro say they found obscenities written in spray paint and slices of bacon wrapped around door handles. The vandals also left a signature and attempted to write a message in bacon on the ground outside a side entrance.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro has been a target for vandals many times before. Even before it opened in 2012, opponents tried to thwart its construction by setting fire to equipment, and trustee Saleh Sbenaty says the hostility has never entirely gone away.

Members of the mosque have tried to shrug off minor incidents, including a couple of thefts, Sbenaty says. But the latest vandalism was on outside walls and combined a curse word with the Arabic word Allah, a line too bright to ignore.

"I mean, using the f-word and, you know, next to it, the name of God?" he says. "It tells how much ignorant these people are."

A message written with strips of bacon was disturbed before mosque officials knew what it said.
Credit Chas Sisk / WPLN

The words were written at a side entrance, on an outdoor basketball court and a wall that faces Mecca. "We are Vandal Group" was also painted on a wall. Worshippers discovered the vandalism as dawn prayers were wrapping up.

Mosque officials have filed a complaint with the Rutherford County Sheriff's Office, which says it's investigating. They also plan to ask the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation and the FBI to look into it as a potential hate crime.

The Islamic Center of Murfreesboro is also organizing a vigil Tuesday night outside the mosque.