Murfreesboro Mosque Debate Turns Ugly

Hugh Kramer

Murfreesboro is a growing little city of 100,000 people about 30 miles southeast of Nashville in Tennessee. Since 1997 it had a mosque and Islamic Center that serves the needs of Muslims in five counties. Like Murfreesboro, this community is growing too and in January, the Islamic Center announced it was planning to build a new, larger facility on land it had purchased along the Bradyville Pike at Veals Road. And that’s when things first got ugly.

Munich will get a new mosque center

Recently, the Turkish community of one Munich district had to bury their plans for a new mosque. The conservative party CSU had blocked the construction for reasons of “wrong place, wrong architecture” and the lack of involvement of local neighbors. Furthermore, the initiative was proposed by an organization which has close ties to the Turkish government.

But now it is the turn of a different initiative. The imam of Penzberg, a small town near Munich, Benjamin Idriz, proposed his plans of a “Centre for Islam in Europe – Munich.” Born in Macedonia, Idriz has long worked for this project which will involve a mosque and community services such as a kindergarten, a space for senior citizens, a library and an Islamic museum. The center strives to convey a liberal, European Islam.

For the first time, there is now a political consensus in the city council. All parties, including the CSU, have expressed their support for the new mosque project. The administration will therefore search for suitable premises at a central location.

Report: decline in mosque and church attendance in the Netherlands

Mosque and church attendance in the Netherlands has dropped over the past ten years, according to a publication from the Central Statistics Bureau (CBS) outlining religion at the beginning of the 21st century. Last year 29 percent of the Netherlands’ 825,000 Muslims attended mosque at least once a month, a decline from 35 percent in 2004-2008 and 47 percent in 1998-1999. The study found analogous pattern in attendance at other religious institutions, noting that attendance at Catholic churches has also declined. Mosque and church attendance differed in terms of age demographics, as 40 percent of those attending mosques are under the age of 18.

Researchers attribute the decrease in mosque and church attendance to a “general shift towards individualization” in religious practice. However Emin Ates of the Turkish Islamic Cultural Federation has not noticed a decline in mosque attendance and reports that imams cannot complain about a lack of listeners: “For us it’s just not a matter for discussion.”