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Tenn. lawmaker’s Facebook post frightens Muslims

Muslim slamm-3_4_r536_c534

Tenn. lawmaker’s Facebook post frightens Muslims

Offensive post was tweeted by local Muslims, who are calling for commissioner to apologize.

by Heidi Hall, The Tennessean

“This may just be a picture to him, but for us it is very threatening,” said Kokoye, an Antioch resident who has lived in Tennessee for 17 years. “Muslims in Coffee County should not feel safe to walk outside their homes.”

She said it was important for her group and others to expose and condemn the post to show it isn’t funny and could be dangerous.

More violence

The Boston Marathon bombing prompted a nationwide uptick in invitations to violence against Muslims, said Hatem Bazian, director of the Islamophobia Research & Documentation Project at the University of California Berkeley.

The group tracks social media posts, comments on online news articles, TV coverage and radio talk shows.

“Racists will always find a way to express their sentiments,” Bazian said. “They use these events as a reason to come out with it. People who are in the silent majority have to reclaim the public space and say this is unacceptable.”

A message from Mayor David Pennington on the Coffee County website extends the hand of hospitality. West’s Facebook post doesn’t change that, Pennington said, and Coffee County shouldn’t be judged based on it.

“I have no control on what a commissioner does when he leaves the commission meeting,” he said. “I have no idea why he did it.”

He said county government and Muslim business owners have enjoyed a long, supportive relationship that he believes will continue. Pennington said he would admonish commission members at their next meeting to be more careful about what they put on Facebook.

There are fewer than 50 Muslims in Coffee County, said Sabina Mohyuddin, a Nashville native who moved there in 2002. She said West’s post was uncharacteristic of the county, although she senses some residents are disturbed when they see people different from themselves.

She said the post scared her.

“That gun was pointed at me and my family,” Mohyuddin said. “We know that these lead to discrimination and hate crimes in the Muslim community, and we are very wary of that.

“I am a second-generation American. My children are third generation. We don’t see ourselves as anything but American.”

The best thing West can do is apologize publicly and meet privately with Coffee County Muslims in an effort to understand them better, said Daniel Tutt, an Episcopalian interfaith activist and a research fellow at the nonprofit Institute for Social Policy and Understanding in Washington.

‘Not acceptable’

“It’s not a shocking thing coming from Tennessee, which in the last few years has produced a number of Islamophobic incidents,” he said. “There was a whole CNN special on Murfreesboro.

“The initial reaction from Muslims will be, ‘This is unfortunate, but we’ve seen a lot of this.’ But it’s not acceptable. If the same thing were done to the Jewish or African-American communities, it would not be tolerated.”

The Al-Farooq Islamic Center on Fourth Avenue South in Nashville suffered vandalism earlier this year and in 2010, when someone spray painted “Muslims Go Home” on the building. Arsonists burned a Columbia, Tenn., mosque to the ground in 2008.

A new mosque opened last year in Murfreesboro after arsonists burned construction equipment on the site and community members sued to stop construction. A federal judge ruled the mosque could open after the Justice Department filed suit to force county workers to inspect and issue an occupancy certificate.

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  • Seeker

    Most of the comments on that article though- very very reassuring. And I mean that in a good sense. No sarcasm.

  • Rights

    “How to wink at a Muslim” and the double-barrel gun make it doubly clear that the man is a hater of Muslims, and that he does not deserve to be a public official. And, as “Dr. Edward Nygma” points out below, some statute from the Patriot Act may very well apply to this hate-mongering, although the chances of that dare not go above zero.

  • Amago,

    By the way, I told Doktor Zoom over at Wonkette about this and he decided to blog about it, over there.

    Tennessee Politician Feels Unfairly Criticized For Innocent Let’s-Point-Guns-At-Muslims Message
    http://wonkette.com/514767/tennessee-politician-feels-unfairly-criticized-for-innocent-lets-point-guns-at-muslims-message

    Unfortunately, he chose not to link to Loon Watch.

  • Reynardine

    If you don’t think this is an actual incitement to stochastic terrorism,follow this link:

    http://www.alternet.org/tea-party-and-right/uh-oh-almost-half-republicans-think-armed-revolution-might-be-necessary

  • Dr Edward Nygma

    Shouldn’t Barry West be arrested under the PATRIOT ACT for making these threats?

    Quoting the PATRIOT ACT’s definition of terrorism:
    A person engages in domestic terrorism if they do an act “”dangerous to human life”” that is a violation of the criminal laws of a state or the United States, if the act appears to be intended to: (i) intimidate or coerce a civilian population”

    Publishing a photo with a direct threat against someone’s life because of his/her religion, and intending to intimidate or coerce civilians, certainly fits the crime according to the PATRIOT ACT. When West is captured, the cops could even cite the “public safety exception” and not read him the Miranda Rights! Or maybe the cops could use “enhanced interrogation techniques” as well, in order to get him to talk?

  • Yeah, I have to agree, that definitely did make it worse.

  • Razainc_aka_BigBoss
  • Yausari

    Double barrel shotgun? Pffftt!

  • Reynardine

    Does this remind anyone else of the crosshairs Palin posted before Giffords was shot?

  • mindy1

    Oh real funny, threatening people over their faith *rollseyes*

  • JD

    message from Mayor David Pennington on the Coffee County website extends the hand of hospitality. West’s Facebook post doesn’t change that, Pennington said, and Coffee County shouldn’t be judged based on it.

    “I have no control on what a commissioner does when he leaves the commission meeting,” he said. “I have no idea why he did it.”

    ——
    ya right I am sure if this post was about another group say jews or blacks we would be talking about freedom of speech and post on facebook outside work and this guy job

    two set of rules 1 for muslims 1 for everyone else

  • Amago,

    His face book post should read, how to make yourself look like a bigoted psychopath, vote for me.

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