Opposition to mosques in US on the rise: Observers

     The American opposition to the building of mosques across the country is on the rise. According to the Christian Science Monitor (CSM), residents from California to Tennessee are opposed to mosques. Several proposed Islamic centers, including one near Ground Zero, have touched off a heated nationwide debate that raises questions about the state of religious tolerance in post-9/11 America. A planned mosque and Islamic center, just a stone's throw away from the World Trade Center site, even prompted former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin to send a series of Twitter posts Sunday asking peace-seeking Muslims to "pls reject it in the interest of healing." The possibility of an Islamic center in California compelled a Baptist minister, whose church would sit next door to the mosque, to compare the plan to putting cats and dogs in the same cage. In Murfreesboro, Tennessee, a proposed mosque led to heated outbursts at public hearings, including threats to boycott any builder who works on it. This opposition to mosque building follows a recent string of thwarted terror plots involving American Muslims, say experts. However, Muslim leaders say the protests are built on bigotry and ignorance. "Anytime a Muslim raises his head in society, a cottage industry of Muslim-bashers comes against them," CSM quoted Ibrahim Hooper, a spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations in Washington, as saying. Protests about the building of mosques are relatively new, says Joe Feagin, a professor on racial and ethnic relations at Texas A and M University in College Stations. "I don't remember seeing any discussions of protests and attacks on mosques until 9/11," he says. But, since then, he says much of the discussion of Middle Eastern people is negative.

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