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Plans to Build Massive Islamic Centers Raise Concerns in Tennessee

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Posted on August 9 2010 4:15 pm
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by Diane Macedo

At the end of the first Iraq war, the United States designated Nashville, Tenn., to be a “gateway city” for refugees fleeing their war-torn country, setting the stage for what has become, less than 20 years later, a rapidly growing Muslim population in the Volunteer State.

As the Muslim population grows and their communities spread throughout the state, religious leaders say their places of worship must do the same, spurring the construction of mosques and the massive Islamic centers that host them in several Tennessee cities, including Murfreesboro, Memphis and Antioch.

But the physical size of these Islamic centers – and the associations and writings of some of the leaders behind them – are raising some concerns nationwide.

Since the U.S. Census Bureau doesn’t ask about religious affiliation, it’s unknown exactly how many members of any faith live in America or in any specific state — so placing the number of Muslims currently living in Tennessee can only be based on best estimates.

Trinity College’s American Religious Identification Survey of 2008 shows the number of non-Christians in Tennessee grew from 1 percent of the population in 1990 to 3 percent in 2008, but the survey does not specify how many of those non-Christians were Muslims. A June article by WKRN.com said the Muslim population in middle Tennessee had tripled in the past 12 years.

The Commercial Appeal said in a 2008 article that the Greater Memphis area was home to an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 Muslims, and the Islamic Center of Nashville claims on its website that the number of Muslims in Nashville alone is estimated to be around 20,000. But neither mentions any source for those numbers.

Still, while the number of Muslims in Tennessee remains unclear, everyone agrees that it’s rising, and fast. And as the number of worshippers goes up, so does their desire for more and larger places of worship.

But critics say the Muslims who now call Tennessee home are looking to expand their places of worship far beyond their need. What’s more, they say, the organizations building the Islamic centers have provided no account for how they received the massive funding their projects require.

Of even greater concern, some critics say, are fears that a radical Islamic agenda may be behind the planning for these large Islamic centers.

Read More at Fox News

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