Monday, August 4, 2008

sterlington mosque and small town ignorance

I managed to hear of a mosque being built in Sterlington, Louisiana. It's a small town (population under 2000) a bit north of a small city -- Monroe and West Monroe (combined population under 70,000). A mosque has been under construction there for a few months now and people have found out what it's going to be: a mosque to serve about 30 Muslim families in the area. There is a video report on the NBC10-Fox14 website (it may be gone from the video section; it's called "Sterlington Mosque").

Not surprisingly, the two townspeople the news crew spoke with didn't seem to be too happy about it. They also spoke with a doctor who is a Muslim. They spoke with a young man who "works in Sterlington" and, when asked about the mosque, he said "we don't have much of that around here." That's the only sentence he manages to put together, otherwise it's grunts of stereotypes about jihadists and stereotypes. They also interviewed a local lawyer who says that she is "worried about the kind of people it's going to bring in" and "what's going to go on there." Needless to say, I wouldn't trust her for legal advice of any kind. The strangest thing is that a town of 1500 that is about 1 1/2 hours from Shrevesport (metro area: 400,000ish) Jackson, Mississippi (metro area: 500,000ish), 4 hours from Baton Rouge (metro area: 400,000ish), 4 1/2 hours from Dallas and New Orleans (now we're talking) is somehow going to be ... a problem. Never mind that a doctor who treats the residents' children and other well educated Muslims will be those who attend (other doctors and PhD holders or candidates). Given the size of the town, they should be happy that anyone wants to live there -- especially doctors (both the lawyer and worker are a bit overweight -- if they're not careful, they're going to need attention for diabetes in a few years, as will most Americans -- not a good time to worry about the religion of the doctor!).

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