Two congressional candidates in Tennessee seem to be in competition over who can better portray themselves as the bigger Islamophobe. Candidate Lou Ann Zelenik is trying to take down her opponent and current Rep. Diane Black (R-TN) over the opening of an Islamic community center and mosque near — but not in — the district for which they are competing.
The center, in Murfreesboro, TN, gained national attention when it sparked anti-Islam rage across the country. Just last week, the Justice Department stepped in to ensure the mosque was set to open after Ramadan.
But Zelenik is making it a campaign issue, warning that it is part of the “Islamization of our society,” and that Black will not protect her constituents from this looming threat:
Zelenik, who vigorously opposed the mosque and warned of potential terrorist connections, said Black was not forceful enough in her opposition.
“I will work to stop the Islamization of our society, and do everything possible to prevent Sharia law from circumventing our laws and our Constitution,” Zelenik said.
Some states dominated by Republicans have passed laws to prevent Islamic or Sharia law from applying in U.S. court cases. The United States legal system is founded in the U.S. Constitution.
Black did oppose the mosque in statements issued in 2010. She said communities have a right to be vigilant in ensuring that Islamic institutions in this country do not aid the “jihadist viewpoint.”
Not only is the Islamic center not in the district of the candidates, it is also relatively popular among Tennesseans.
But Zelenik has built a reputation on anti-Muslim sentiments. She has been endorsed by two legislators who wanted to effectively outlaw Islam in Tennessee, and was a vocal advocate against the Musfreesboro Islamic center when it was first proposed. Black, on the other hand, isn’t much better. She uses model legislation from white nationalist David Yerushalmi. And though she was once tolerant of the mosque, her spokesman now says she has concerns about it.
Black, the incumbent, won the primary on Thursday night, by a fairly wide margin.