MURFREESBORO — After they were denied their day in court, opponents of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro cemetery Monday mixed words with reporters following them out of a courtroom for interviews.
Plaintiffs’ witness Lou Ann Zelenik questioned the intent of the reporters covering the ICM cemetery case after Chancellor Robert Corlew III decided to recuse himself from hearing the case.
“Who are you?” Zelenik asked WSMV reporter Larry Flowers, who has covered many other stories pertaining to other plaintiffs who sued the Rutherford County Regional Planning Commission for approving the congregation’s plans to build a new center on Veals Road May 24, 2010.
“I’m here to cover a story,” Flowers said.
Zelenik afterward said she was surprised to see so many reporters with cameras pursing interviews in the tight hallways of the Rutherford County Judicial Building.
“I didn’t expect the media,” Zelenik said during a phone interview. “There were people pushing. I couldn’t understand it. There was a person who is 70 years old. I was concerned. I said stop pushing.”
A former Republican congressional candidate who accused a former ICM board member of promoting terrorism through social media, Zelenik told reporters that she’s gotten death threats from people following Middle East media coverage of her statements and positions.
Zelenik also questioned the intent of Noor Tagouri, who identified herself as a University of Maryland senior journalism student and CBS radio reporter in Washington, D.C. Tagouri is a Muslim, and one man in the group with Zelenik questioned how she could be objective in reporting when she was wearing a headscarf.
“I’m a journalist,” Tagouri said. “It’s for the University of Maryland.”
Zelenik contends that Tagouri was aggressive in the way she put her camera in front of people.
“I asked for her name,” Zelenik said. “She refused to give me a card. She refused to give me her name. She was pushy. She was pushing around and hiding and sneaky and trying to come up from behind people.”