NASHVILLE, Tenn. — During congressional hearings looking into whether some mosques are breeding grounds for Muslim extremists, a Memphis father said the Al-Farooq Mosque led his son down that very path. Melvin Bledsoe said he noticed a big change in his son after he joined the Mosque.
Carlos Bledsoe, who changed his name to Abdula Hakin Muhamad, is accused of shooting three army recruiters in Little Rock, Ark. One of the soldiers died from his injuries.
Al-Farooq Mosque officials were stunned when they heard the accusation that Muhamad became an extremist after joining the mosque. “I think it’s baseless and Mr. Bledsoe has limited knowledge of his son,” said Mohamad Shukri, a mosque spokesman.
Shukri remembers Muhamad as a normal young man who played basketball with other young members of the mosque. “He was just one of these kids, and all of a sudden he disappeared,” said Shukri. What happened to the former Tennessee State University student after he left the mosque is unknown.
Shukri is also concerned that his mosque is being blamed for the actions of one person. “Demonizing our faith because of one person is bad for Americans. America is suppose to protect everyone. It’s unfair and absurd, because it puts a community in danger and opens the door to suspicions in our community,” said Shukri.
Mosque officials told Channel 4 News that hate fliers are frequently found posted on the building. The latest flier was particularly disturbing. “It says that Muhamad is a dog, Islam is the enemy,” said Shukri.
Read the statement by the Al-Farooq Islamic Center in response to Bledsoe’s accusation here.
For an earlier example of anti-Muslim bigotry directed against the mosque see here.