Podcast #98 – The Crescent and the Moonpie

In our live presentation to the Atlanta Freethought Society, “The Crescent and the Moonpie: Islam and the American South,” we look at the history of Islam in the Antebellum South, then jump forward to discuss  how Muslim communities are being received in 21st century Dixie.

Mentioned in the presentation:

US Army Major Nidal Malik Hasan and former heavyweight champ Muhammad Ali.  Both men are native-born Southerners (Hasan in Virginia, Ali in Kentucky).  Both are adherents of Islam, yet they took very different paths.

Muslims in the Antebellum South:

Estevanico the Moor (1500-1539), Muslim convert to Catholicism and the first African to set foot in North America.

Ayuba Suleiman Diallo, an African slave eventually returned to his homeland with the help of (among others) James Oglethorpe, the founder of colonial Georgia.

Yarrow Mamout (1736-1823), a freedman who lived in early Washington, DC, who owned property and bank investments and was painted by famous portraitist Charles Willson Peale.

Omar ibn Said (1770-1864), and Islamic scholar who wrote 14 Arabic manuscripts during his time as a slave.

Bilali Muhammad, who led a congregation of 80 fellow Muslims while enslaved on Sapelo Island, Georgia in the early 19th century.

Islam in the 21st Century South:

Al-Farooq Masjid of Atlanta, the largest and most prominent mosque in Georgia (possibly in the South).

Case Study #1:  The Christian Action Network sponsors a billboard campaign for Islam Rising, an anti-Islamic documentary.

Case Study #2:  Residents of Murfreesboro, Tennessee are upset at the pending construction of a sizable Islamic Center.

Case Study #3:  The City Council of Alpharetta, Georgia denies an expansion permit to the Islamic Center of North Fulton, citing zoning concerns.

Case Study #4:  Residents of Lilburn, Georgia allege harassment by”Middle Eastern men” after the Dar-e-Abbas mosque was denied an expansion permit in their neighborhood.  The police have so far found no evidence of wrongdoing.


Dragon*Con (which includes SkepTrack) is just around the corner, September 3-6, right here in Atlanta.  And if you can join us a day early, the second annual Star Party will be hosted by Emory University’s Science and Math Center.

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Theme music by Body Found.

Recorded August 8, 2010.  Hosted by John C. Snider and David Driscoll.

To listen to this episode click here.

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