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NYT Mega-mosque article reporter Laurie Goodstein should get her facts straight
We posted on the exchange between Former Muslims United (FMU), President, Nonie Darwish and New York Times religions reporter Laurie Goodstein. That exchange occurred during a telephone interview prior to Goodstein publishing a major article that appeared in the Sunday edition of the New York Times: “Across Nation, Mosque Projects Meet Opposition”. Note what we said:
Darwish spoke at WOC before the Rutherford County Planning Commission gave approvals for the early burial and the ICM expansion project on May 19th and 24th. Darwish addressed the WOC on support for Israel and knew nothing of the ICM expansion project at the time of her appearance there.
[. . .]
Darwish was contacted by New York Times Religion reporter, Laurie Goodstein. Goodstein was doing an article on the opposition to Mega-mosques around the country. Goodstein opened up the conversation with Darwish by commented about her alleged role in fomenting Church opposition to the ICM expansion project. [. . .] Darwish then discussed with Goodstein the issues of human rights for former Muslims and whether Goodstein had read or written on the topic. The answer was no. Darwish hoped that perhaps Goodstein might have been provoked by the exchange to investigate the death Fatwas against apostates who left Islam and the FMU Freedom Pledge campaign. 
Here is what Goodstein wrote about Darwish following her telephone interview:
 In central Tennessee, the mosque in Murfreesboro is the third one in the last year to encounter resistance. It became a political issue when Republican candidates for governor and Congress declared their opposition. (They were defeated in primary elections on Thursday.)
A group called Former Muslims United put up a billboard saying “Stop the Murfreesboro Mosque.” The group’s president is Nonie Darwish, also the founder of Arabs for Israel, who spoke against Islam in Murfreesboro at a fund-raising dinner for Christians United for Israel, an evangelical organization led by the Rev. John Hagee.
“A mosque is not just a place for worship,” Ms. Darwish said in an interview. “It’s a place where war is started, where commandments to do jihad start, where incitements against non-Muslims occur. It’s a place where ammunition was stored.”
Camie Ayash, a spokeswoman for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro, lamented that people were listening to what she called “total disinformation” on Islam.
She said her group was stunned when what began as one person raising zoning questions about the new mosque evolved into mass protests with marchers waving signs about Shariah.
“A lot of Muslims came to the U.S. because they respect the Constitution,” she said. “There’s no conflict with the U.S. Constitution in Shariah law. If there were, Muslims wouldn’t be living here.”
Goodstein clearly didn’t bother to check her facts about the venue, topic and timing of Darwish’s talk in Mufreesboro. Darwish spoke in support of Israel at the World Outreach Church (WOC)  in Murfreesboro during a three day training program sponsored by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem (ICEJ) not Pastor Hagee’s Christians United for Israel (CUFI). Darwish spoke over the weekend of May 21-23rd, prior to the first public approvals by the Rutherford County Planning Commission of the contested Islamic Center of Murfreesboro expansion project.  Here is the ICEJ program announcement for the Murfreesboro program held at the WOC that featured Darwish:
 
       
2010 Spring Teaching Conference
Israel, the Church & the Nations
May 21-23, 201
Join us for our 2010 Spring Teaching Conference, featuring three days of rich Bible teaching and inspirational testimony at World Outreach Church in Murfreesboro, TN. Guest speakers this year include Nonie Darwish the daughter of a prominent Egyptian army chief who was assassinated by the Israeli Defense Forces in 1956 who is now an outspoken critic of Islamic violence against Jews and Christians in the Middle East. She will be joined by ICEJ Executive Director Malcolm Hedding and conference host Allen Jackson who will be conducting in-depth teaching sessions exploring what the Bible says about Israel, the Church and the Nations in these critical days.
Darwish’s comments about what Mosques have been used for were in the context of the Middle East. 
As to what motivated FMU to take out a billboard ad in Murfreesboro in opposition to the ICM expansion plan, note what Darwish said in an FMU news release about the reason for the ad:
 
This is just the beginning of a national campaign to educate the public about threats to the civil and human rights of former Muslims who leave Islam and the dangers from adoption of Islamic Sharia law to all American citizens”.
 
The green background of the ad represents the Saudi national flag with the Muslim profession of Faith “the Shahada” inscribed on it: “There is no god but Allah and Muhammad is the messenger of Allah.” It is a message of Islamic supremacism and an imperative to convert or subjugate unbelievers. The circle of children and their care provider represents the target of this threat from Sharia here in the US.

FMU had earlier issued a
news release citing the non-response of the ICM Imam and board requesting that they sign a Freedom Pledge. “Islamic Center of Murfreesboro (ICM) Mosque leaders do not honor freedom to choose one’s beliefs as guaranteed under our First Amendment. That is the only conclusion we can draw from the overwhelming ‘silence’ and non-response to letters containing a Freedom Pledge sent to ICM Mosque leaders by our organization,” said Darwish.

The FMU letter and Freedom Pledge were sent on June 29th with confirmed receipt July 1st, requesting ICM leaders to abjure death fatwas to apostates who have left Islam. The letters were sent to all ICM board members and the Imam, Sheik Dr. Ossama Bahloul, a distinguished graduate of Al Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt. A prominent conservative Egyptian Muslim preacher, Sheik Yussuf al-Badri, on a translated German news video said, “God has commanded us to kill all who leave Islam.”

Ms. Goodstein’s comment about GOP Gubernatorial and Congressional candidates being defeated because of anti-Mosque and anti-Islam positions is clearly not the whole story. At the critical local level in Rutherford County, the GOP won resounding victories in local elections for the County Commission. Many of those elected will doubtless support the ongoing investigations into matters surrounding the ICM conflict. Those include questions raised by the County Public Works Committee when they unamimously voted to investigate  the early use permit issued by the Rutherford County Planning Commission on May 19th for a Muslim burial at the ICM expansion site and related health issues. Then there are the ongoing investigations by the Rutherford Sherriff’s office, that have been referred to the FBI and Department of Homeland Security, into the background of suspended ICM board member, Mosaad Rawash for his support of Hamas, a foreign terrorist organization designated by our federal government.
Perhaps, Ms. Goodstein should have checked her facts before she filed her front page New York Times story on Darwish, Murfreesboro and the Mega-mosque conflicts across America.
Darwish may have more to say about the Murfressboro and other Mega-mosque controversies  when she appears on an MSNBC segment at 10:00AM EDT, Monday, August 9th debating Ziad Ramadan of CAIR.


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