“And she says, ‘Well, that’s your choice.’ ” Her mother, Linda Harmon, said she knows “a lot of people are scared that Muslims are going to have to register and get shipped back.” But, she added, “even a lot of Muslims want people vetted. His skin, like many of the Arab immigrants in the town, is just as pale as the whites who can trace their American lineage back generations.
The exchange resulted in a moment of shock, a hurried exit and, a week later, an apology.
Nine out of ten women converts said their change of religion had led to them dressing more conservatively.
More than half started wearing a head scarf and 5 per cent had worn the burka.
There has been a smattering of post-election harassment and insults — at schools, in parking lots, on the road — but nothing to take to the police or put Murfreesboro back in the national headlines.
“Right now, we’re hoping that it’s going to be calm,” said Saleh Sbenaty, an engineering professor at Middle Tennessee State University and one of the founders of the Islamic Center of Murfreesboro.
There are people such as Abdou Kattih, a pharmacist at Walgreens and one of the mosque’s founders, and Jason Bennett, an evangelical advocate for the homeless and a onetime mosque opponent; the two now consider each other close friends.