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Public Statements

Murfreesboro Islamic Center

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC

Mr. CARSON of Indiana. Mr. Speaker, I rise today saddened that yet another community in America is attempting to stop construction of an Islamic Center, this time in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.

Unlike the controversy that surrounded the construction of the Islamic Center near the World Trade Center Memorial, the opponents here cannot mask their disdain for Muslim Americans by claiming to act on behalf of the families of the victims of 9/11. In fact, the opponents have not even tried, instead letting their prejudice and paranoia dictate their course.

It is ironic that these opponents contend, without any evidence, that Muslim Americans in Murfreesboro want to replace the Constitution, while they hypocritically ignore freedom of worship, a belief so central to our Nation it is enshrined in the 1st Amendment.

What makes America great is our people's unshakeable love of freedom and a monumental history that welcomes every viewpoint, faith, and background. As our Nation grows and its diversity widens, we must not forget the values on which we were founded.

We cannot, in one instance, celebrate freedom of expression, and in the next, silence those with whom our viewpoints differ. We cannot, in one breath, claim that all Americans are free to worship as they see fit, and in the next, oppose an effort to build the house of worship that makes exercising that freedom possible.
Anyone can embrace freedom of expression when their viewpoints go unchallenged. The American way means that those who vehemently disagree are able to speak their views side by side and that differing faiths can be practiced streets apart. We must all ask ourselves--will we abandon our Constitutional principles when they allow others to voice opinions that are contrary to our own or practice a faith different than our own? Or will we stand up for the freedom of all Americans to practice their own beliefs? That is the true test of what it means to be American.

The Murfreesboro Islamic Center has been facing down protests since 2010 and is once again making headlines after a judge ruled that the local officials did not provide sufficient public notice under local law before approving the project. I know that the Muslim American community would want this project completed in accordance with local ordinances, so I fully expect they will work with officials to ensure the appropriate process is followed.

Once these processes are completed, I hope that opponents will recognize that construction is protected by our Constitution. Additional vandalism and intimidation is counter to everything we stand for as Americans and everything that makes our country great.

We are better than this as a Nation. Our proud history and hard-fought principles demand more.

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