Pat Robertson: Fueling The Mosque Arson

The planned relocation of a 30 year old Mosque in Murfreesboro, Tennessee has run into official difficulty, as well as arson and vandalism, after the 700 Club descended on the town.  Having already obtained approval to build from the Rutherford County Commissioners, new concerns have been manufactured over the alleged increased traffic that may be caused by the Mosque.  Anti-Muslim activists and the 700Club suggest that these concerns may be effective as a means of delaying, or possibly derailing, the plans.

During the August 19 episode of the 700 Club a segment over nine minutes long was dedicated to raising fear over the relocation of the mosque.  The segment entitled ‘Mega-Mosque Nation,’ which begins at the 17 minute mark, and ends after the 26 minute mark of the broadcast, includes, among other things, footage of local officials being pressured into investigating alleged dangers proposed by the Mosque.

After explaining that every religion in the area is treated completely equally, Rutherford County Mayor, Ernest Burgess, is bombarded with accusations by 700Club staff that ‘The Islamic Brotherhood’ will infiltrate this Mosque with the intention of spreading ‘radical Islam.’  While Mayor Burgess was unfazed by the unfounded accusations and remains committed to the equal rights and freedoms of all individuals, County Commissioners have agreed to re-open the case based on the allegations featured in the 700Club episode.

The Murfreesboro Mosque has received recent media attention after fires were set on the property, damaging three vehicles, and their sign was defaced with the words ‘Not Welcome,’ in spay-paint.  As the airing of the 700Club segment was prior to these actions, it’s difficult to ascertain whether they would have been committed without the fear-mongering and anti-Islamic propaganda provided by Pat Robertson and his staff.

As part of this anti-Islamic campaign, 700Club reporter, Eric Stakelbeck, interviewed Laurie Cardoza-Moore concerning her allegations that the approval for the Mosque relocation by the Rutherford County Commissioners was somehow achieved nefariously.  Cardoza-Moore was introduced as a local activist and documentary filmmaker.

Cardoza-Moore is an outspoken Zionist who, as part of her ongoing anti-Islamic campaign, recently spoke at Park51 Mosque protests.  In her speech at the Park51 protests, Cardoza-Moore claimed that Muslims can’t be considered “Real Americans” because they ‘didn’t fight in the revolutionary war.’ Cordoza-Moore believes that the relocation of this 30 year old Mosque is part of a larger conspiracy against the local Christian community and its book and music industry.

In an obvious attempt to stir up fear in the Murfreesboro community, Pat Robertson told his audience:

“It isn’t just religion, just isn’t. Mark my words.  If they start bringing thousands of Muslims into that relatively rural area, the next thing you know, they’re going to be taking over the City Council.   Then they’re

going to be having an ordinance that calls for public prayer 5 times a day.  Then they’re going to be having ordinances that there’ll have to be facilities for foot-washing in all the public restrooms, in all the airport facilities, etc, etc.  And, before long they’re going to demand, demand, demand, demand, and, little by little, the citizens of Murfreesboro, or whatever little town it is, are going to be cowed by these people.  Not to mention their ability to bribe folks.  I don’t know whether anybody is getting a pay-off, but it’s entirely possible.”

He goes on to completely besmirch the credibility of the local officials by suggesting that they can, and may very well have been, bought with as little as $300.00.  He added that, in reference to the Muslim members of the Mosque, “these guys come in with pots of money.”  Mr. Robertson rhetorically wonders for the cameras just how far $10,000.00 could go to buy political favor in a small place like Murfreesboro.

After looking into his studio camera and directly addressing United States representatives, telling them what he feels their actions should be, Robertson had the gall to charge the organizers of this local Muslim congregation with political activism.  The blatant hypocrisy of his actions apparently lost on him.  He then continues to allow his program to be used as a platform for anti-Muslim activists to spread the kind of propaganda that fuels actions such as the vandalism and arson committed only days later.

During the episode Rebecca Bynum is introduced as a ‘local journalist’ who infers that the funding for the Mosque is questionable.  Her reason for making this accusation is that she has heard that other funding, for other Mosques, in other places, have been ‘accused’ of coming from questionable sources, and has therefore seen fit to level the same accusation against this Mosque.  If this reasoning sounds sketchy, it may be because the ‘local journalist,’ Rebecca Bynum, is in fact an anti-Islamic propagandist that works for ‘The New England Review’ and has been the News Editor and Board Member of ‘Jihad Watch,’ a dedicated anti-Muslim organization.  Her writings accuse Islam of not actually being a religion, and of being responsible for giving other religions a bad name.

The episode describes Murfreesboro as being the ‘buckle of the Bible Belt’ where many of the residents still focus on ‘God and Country.’  The narrative continues by describing how this ‘All-American feel’ will disappear thanks to plans for the Mosque.  There is nothing subtle about the threat described by Pat Robertson, Eric Stakelbeck, Rebecca Bynum or Laurie Cardoza-Moore.

This sort of incitement through disinformation and deliberate propaganda is inexcusable.  This has the appearance of a deliberate attempt to cause civil unrest and promote hatred against a specific group of visible minorities within a community.  Law enforcement is currently investigating these hate crimes that seemed designed to inspire terror in the victims.  Pat Robertson has voiced his bigotry and biases in the past, but this latest act of conspiracy with other discriminatory groups, to spread a message of fear and intolerance that may have resulted in acts of terror, may just be criminal.


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