“Every Muslim who saw news photos with Swastika painted on the burned out Islamic center was victimized by the attack”
While the ghosts of Babri Mosque are returning to haunt Indian politics 17 years after a mad frenzy destroyed face of its secular republic, a US court has sentenced a man to over 14 years in prison for burning a mosque in Central Tennessee.
Senior District Judge Robert L. Echols of the Middle District of Tennessee Monday sentenced 24-year-old Michael Corey Golden to 14 years and three months in prison and three years of supervised released for vandalizing and burning down the Islamic Center of Columbia, Tenn.
Golden pleaded guilty on Nov.3, 2008, to destruction of religious property and to using fire to commit a felony.
He previously admitted to the court that he constructed Molotov cocktail explosive devices, ignited them and used them to destroy the mosque on Feb.9, 2008. He further admitted that while he burned down the mosque, a co-defendant painted swastikas and the phrase “White Power” on the building’s walls.
The other two defendants, Jonathan Edward Stone and Eric Ian Baker, previously pleaded guilty and are scheduled to be sentenced next month.
“The right to worship without fear of this kind of violent interference is among our most fundamental civil rights,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “We will aggressively prosecute anyone who seeks to intimidate or injure any congregation because of what they believe, how they worship or who they are.”
US Attorney Edward M. Yarbrough said: “This type of crime strikes at the heart of our civil rights and religious freedoms in America. I am very pleased that through local, state and federal cooperation all defendants responsible for this vile attack have been brought to justice.”
“Every Muslim who saw the news photos with the Swastika painted on the burned out Islamic center was victimized by this attack. Today, they can clearly see that American law enforcement stands strongly with them to guarantee their freedoms to worship and assemble,” said Nashville Field Division Special Agent in Charge James M. Cavanaugh.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation, which investigated the case, said the agency remains committed to protecting the civil rights of all people through the enforcement of federal civil rights statutes.
“The destruction of any place of worship will not be ignored and the FBI will make every effort to bring those who commit such heinous acts to justice.”