Jamie Colby: There is growing outrage over plans to build more mosques and Islamic centers in America. You've probably heard about a lot of the stories. But in New York City tempers are really flaring over a proposal to sell a Catholic convent to a Muslim group. And now in rural Tennessee a plan to build a mosque has sparked vandalism, even death threats. Religion correspondent Lauren Green is joining me now in our newsroom with more on that. What is happening now on that?
Lauren Green: Well the interesting thing is that we asked the question is it that we're noticing more mosques being build or are there actually more being built? Well according to one monitoring agency they said yes there is an uptick in the number of mosques that are being built. And of course accordingly, there are a number of people asking why are these mosques being built in my community especially in the wake of the ground zero battle. And so there are, as you mentioned, Murfreesboro, Tennessee, that's one of three controversial mosques in Tennessee. There is also Sheboygan, Wisconsin, Sheepshead Bay, Brooklyn, also Staten Island, and of course the mosque at ground zero. An interesting fact that came out yesterday, the Quinnipiac Poll showed that most New Yorkers are against the mosque - 52% to 31%, but 17% were undecided.
Colby: Is it because of the location, Lauren, or the fact that they are being built at all?
Green: I think there is a question about why are these mosques being built and the question about who is financing them. In the case of Staten Island, the financial backer is the Muslim American Society, which has been linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, a radical organization that did spawn Hamas. According to the Investigative Project on Terrorism, they say that MAS is on a buying spree. They have bought, taken over several large mosques in and around the country as well as Staten Island. And what they are saying is that if you control the mosque you control the imam you control the preaching that goes into those mosques. And that's what worries a lot of people. Here is the IPT director talking about MAS.
Steve Emerson: MAS is one of several major Islamist groups in the United States that claim to be moderate but in fact behind closed doors, by what they say in their rallies, by publications they put out, they are actually advocating violence or justification of violence. And their mission is to spread Islam to be dominant in the United States.
Green: Now an MAS spokesperson said that is adamantly not true, and here is what they said to respond to that.
Ibrahim Ramey: We are very transparent about the work that we do. There are people who in fact don't like Muslims and don't like Muslims in their neighborhoods and who have been vociferously and very persistently trying to link MAS with foreign organizations and movements. But that simply isn't true
Green: And it should be said too that the government, the US government has taken no legal action against MAS. So they say they are totally transparent and their books are open. And so a lot of these controversies are what people don't know and probably what people are saying about them.
Colby: All right highly emotional but construction plan proceeding, plans proceeding. Thanks so much, our religion correspondent Lauren Green joining me in the news room.