(COLUMBIA, MD, 3/25/14) – The Maryland office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today condemned theÂ harassmentÂ of aÂ MuslimÂ student journalistÂ by opponentsÂ of theÂ expansion ofÂ aÂ Murfreesboro, Tenn., mosqueÂ cemetery.
At a hearing on the issue yesterday, former Republican congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik questioned the intent of Noor Tagouri, a University of Maryland journalism student and radio reporter in Washington, D.C., and another mosque cemetery opponent with Zelenik questioned how she could be objective when she was wearing an Islamic headscarf, or hijab.
According to media reports, Tagouri said, “I'm a journalist. It's for the University of Maryland.”
A man with Zelenik told Tagouri that Islam is “not a religion.” Another asked her about her view of Jesus. “I actually believe in Christ, and I love him,” Tagouri replied. (Note: MuslimsÂ worldwideÂ love and revere the Prophet Jesus, who plays a pivotal role in Islam.)
Video: Mosque Opponents Upset by Media at Cemetery Hearing (Daily News Journal)
Raw Video Footage of Mosque Opponents (Daily News Journal)
Tagouri says sheÂ traveled toÂ Nashville,Â Tenn., to speak at Vanderbilt UniversityÂ about combating bigotry andÂ bullying.Â After that event, she made a detour to Murfreesboro to cover the hearing forÂ a classÂ assignment.Â Â
Plans for expansion of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro's cemetery have longÂ been at the center of a heated debate, despite permission beingÂ granted by the Rutherford County Board of Zoning Appeals in January.Â
Tagouri told CAIR that she did notÂ realizeÂ the extent of Islamophobia in the society until yesterday's hearing. “It isn't just about harassment or fighting for an Islamic center. It's about howÂ hateful people can be toward what they are ignorant about and how far they are willing to go with that hate,” said Tagouri.
“It's deeplyÂ concerning that opponents of the mosque'sÂ cemetery expansion continue toÂ insist Islam is not a religion,”Â said a representative ofÂ CAIR'sÂ Maryland outreach office, Zainab Chaudry.Â “ThisÂ is clearlyÂ a case ofÂ personal bias overruling common sense. ItÂ erases any doubt thatÂ bigotry andÂ ignoranceÂ are the driving factors in the opposition to the MurfreesboroÂ mosque's plans to accommodate their community's needs.”
Chaudry added that the IslamicÂ headscarf is a personal choice for Muslim womenÂ that has absolutely noÂ bearing onÂ their qualifications, talentsÂ or abilities.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.
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CONTACT: CAIR Maryland Office President Zainab Chaudry, (410) 971-6062,Â email@example.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, (202) 744-7726,Â firstname.lastname@example.org