Jerome Heath hasn’t heard of a hate crime in Clarksville in the seven years he’s lived here. But now he finds himself in the midst of one – a crime that is placing Muslims on higher alert.
Two hours before the Islamic Center of Clarksville held its 1 p.m. Friday prayer service, called Jummah, a Quran was found vandalized on the front steps. The front of the Quran, Islam’s holy book, read “Mohammad pedophile” while an expletive was written inside, smeared under two strips of bacon, according to a Clarksville Police report.
The report labeled the incident a hate crime. Bacon is offensive to Muslims because they are forbidden from eating pork. “We were upset. Actually, some of us were outraged, but everyone was upset,” said Heath, a representative of the center. “We see it a lot on the news in Nashville (because) Nashville has a large Muslim population. But here in Clarksville – being a lot smaller (and) being very diverse with Fort Campbell – it was the last we thing we expected.”
The Islamic Center was founded in June 2005. Heath estimates that more than 40 Muslim families live in the Clarksville and Fort Campbellareas.
Heath said police told him they would contact the FBI and send out more patrols to monitor the center. Surveillance cameras have since been installed. “We have put our community on alert and warned everyone to keep their eyes open,” he said.
See also “CAIR seeks FBI probe of ‘hate crime’ at TN mosque”, CAIR press release, 10 April 2007
Update: Islamophobes are outraged that such an attack should be categorised as a hate crime. “Is Clarksville, Tennessee, under Sharia law?”, Robert Spencer demands.