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Following vandalism, Murf. Mosque leader says harrassment on the rise


MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT)  --  A vigil of support is planned for Tuesday tonight at the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, following word that the Center’s Mosque was vandalized over the weekend.

The Daily News Journal says expletive laced graffiti was sprayed on walls, doors and pavement Sunday.

The mosque’s construction was the focus of a long-running 2010 lawsuit trying to void its building permit. The center has endured public protests, vandalism, arson of a construction vehicle and a bomb threat.

Mosque spokesman Dr. Saleh Sbenaty says the harassment has never gone away, but did subside for a while. But he says things haven’t gotten bad again in the last year.

"The incidence of harassment and intimidation has increased many multiple, multiple fold. We have never seen anything like it here in Murfreesboro, in Rutherford County and in the United States.”

As of this writing, the State and Rutherford County Democratic parties appear to be the only local officials to condemn Sunday’s vandalism. Dr. Sbenaty says that’s disappointing.

“We don’t’ see from candidates, whether for local offices or for federal offices, you know, that they condemn such acts. We call on our public officials to condemn racism, to condemn bigotry, to condemn harassment against American Muslims.”

The Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office is investigating the Sunday incident. Deputy Detective Dan Goodwin is encouraging the public to call with any information about the vandalism. You can reach him at 615-904-3034.

Tuseday night's vigil of support will be held on the mosque grounds beginning at 7:30 p.m.