Federal law enforcement officials are investigating a fire at the construction site of a mega mosque in suburban Nashville, Tenn.
Federal investigators say some of the excavating equipment used in building the future Islamic house of worship were doused with an accelerant and set ablaze. But so far, they have not ruled arson as the cause.
Some signs at the site were vandalized in separate incidents in recent weeks.
American Muslim leaders say the furor over the proposed mosque near New York City's Ground Zero has emboldened opposition to new mosques elsewhere.
"The members of the community are very scared. It's Ramadan. We try to come together as a community in the evenings to break our fasts together. Our attendance level has been very low because people are scared to leave their homes," said Camie Ayash, a spokesperson for the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
Some local residents have held protests against the planned mosque. They have complained about zoning issues, parking, traffic, and what they call a lack of transparency in the Rutherford County's planning process.
When completed, the mosque would cover 15 acres and serve 250 Muslim families.
"We in this community believe strongly in the rule of law, and choose to settle our disagreements through peaceful deliberations and discussion, not vigilantism..We who stand in opposition to this mosque have made our concerns known through proper legal channels and have conducted ourselves with dignity, respect, and out of a spirit of love for our community, and we will continue to do so," resident Kevin Fisher, who has led protests against the mosque, said in a statement released to the Daily News Journal of Murfreesboro on Saturday.