When I first learned about this I felt both anxiety and relief. Anxiety because I know the sh*t is about to hit the fan as vile anti-Islamic groups, like the one which set up camp in Murfreesboro, will soon migrate down here as news spreads of the construction. Relief because the more visible any group gets the local citizens will get to know them. And through understanding, I believe and hope, compassion and love can flourish.
The really sad part about this story is the construction of this Islamic Center was never really a secret. And there are also 2 or 3 mosques (and a private elementary school, I think) in Chattanooga already. I remember last year when that broohaha over Park 51 spread across the country to local mosques, I feared for the local Muslim community. In fact I even tried encouraging some of the more liberal pastors in the area to get together with the Muslim community during Ramadan. That got nowhere quickly as most either ignored my calls and emails or kindly brushed me off. (I've never participated in any political or community activism so I didn't really know what I was doing in the first place.)
Now that the Muslim community will become more visible in Chattanooga, I hope more people will try to learn a bit more about this misunderstood faith. I know there will be protests and a lot of ignorance shown on how this "Muslim Threat" is taking over our once "peaceful" community. Local citizens will form groups to try to find ways to stop the construction and the same pointless protests will go down at city hall like up in Murfreesboro. I highly doubt any of my doubting and fearful neighbors will attempt to speak directly with the Muslim community. All they'll do is shout and holler "go back home". Sadly they've been here for years living, eating, and shopping like the rest of us. And when the sh*t finally does hit the fan I'll be right there standing with them on opening day.
Update: I just got a change to see Thursday's episode of the Daily Show and nearly died of the giggles after watching this clip on the dangers of Muslims and Christians getting along.
|The Daily Show With Jon Stewart||Mon - Thurs 11p / 10c|
|Big Mohammed's House|
God Bless Jon Stewart!