Reflections on Arson Attack on Mosque in Tennessee

A short documentary I shot and edited has been picked up by a website in Alabama. The title of the article is “Manchester, Tenn., meeting displays hatred of Muslims, malleability of masses.” Kay Campbell of writes:

Last week, within shouting distance of the peace-love-music temporary village that will be Bonnaroo June 13-16, people packed a meeting room to cheer when a photograph of the firebombed Columbia, Tenn., mosque was shown.

There was the soft-spoken Muslim woman who braved the cries of “Watch out! She might blow up!” as she attempted to tell people what it’s like to be a Muslim in Middle Tennessee. There were the federal officers trying to explain to the people that they are on their side – if that side is the one of law and order that protects all people, no matter where they worship.


“Love your neighbor” means weeping, not cheering at the sight of a firebombed prayer hall. “Love your neighbor” means radiating God’s love so that the neighbor wants to know about your faith, not forcing them to dodge your spittle.

Tennessee is the battle ground for the integration of Muslims in the U.S. I visited there in 2009 with the “Journey into America” team. Jonathan Hayden, a friend of mine, wrote an extremely moving article on the local response to the original mosque burning in Columbia, Tennessee. Jonathan writes:

One of the things that struck me about in speaking with the community was the irony of it all. We’ve found a range of feelings towards Muslims in our travels. A lot of good words and thoughts, some negative. Some think all Muslims are terrorists. As Daoud said, they were now the ones attacked by terrorists. His child had been mocked in school, called a terrorist and teased mercilessly, as children often do to one another. It was a hard thing to hear—a child, the victim of terrorism, being called a terrorist.

Watch my short documentary:

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