MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - A demonstration against a planned mosque and Islamic Center near Murfreesboro brought out protesters and counter protesters Wednesday afternoon, each claiming to be true defenders of the U.S. Constitution.
"Hindu, Muslim, Christian, Jew, the First Amendment applies to you," chanted a group that called itself Middle Tennesseans For Religious Freedom.
A march to the Rutherford County Historic Courthouse brought out about 400 people opposed to a planned center on Veals Road. The center will house athletic facilities, meeting rooms and a home for the Imam.
A similar, if not larger, number of counter protestors shared the courthouse lawn with those opposed to the Islamic Center.
"Half of them will bury a (expletive) body in their backyard and then drink the water," screamed one protestor.
Lori Moore held up a sign and made her point clear.
"It's about terrorism. It's not about religion. It's about stopping homegrown terrorism in Tennessee," Moore said.
Kevin Fisher put his protest against the mosque into the form of petitions.
"I haven't counted exactly. We got about 700 to 800 something today. We're over 20,000," Fisher explained.
The event organizer planned on giving those signed petitions to the Rutherford County Mayor and members of the county commission.
Fisher and some of the people opposed to the Islamic Center are unhappy with the way the proposed center was approved and they would live to see the issue revisited by county leaders.
In the crowd, many protestors made it clear traffic was not their own concern.
"It thought it was about traffic flows. This is about religion? You guys are changing your views all the time," said one protestor.
"They're hiding behind the religion," another protestor said back.
"Our point was to stand up for the constitution right and civil liberty in this country that is freedom of religion for all people," according to Hudson Wilkins from the Tennesseans For Religious Freedom.
Tuesday afternoon, leaders of Islamic Center of Murfreesboro suspended one of its board members. The suspension came after an allegation from Congressional candidate Lou Ann Zelenik.
Her campaign accused Mosaad Rowash of having hate speech on his MySpace page.
Islamic leaders said Rowash will be under suspension while they investigate those claims.