Bassam Issa stepped in front of a crowded classroom of students this month at Southern Adventist University, a Christian college near here, for a presentation on being Muslim in Chattanooga — recently named America's most "Bible-minded city."

Mr. Issa, a real estate developer and the president of his local mosque, was struggling with how to attack the assumption that Islam gives rise to terrorism. He knew that the association was strong: Only last July, here in Chattanooga, four Marines and a sailor were killed in a terrorist rampage by a young Muslim man who grew up in the local community. Many people here now speak of that day, July 16, as "7/16," an echo of "9/11."

And just a week before Mr. Issa's visit to the college, there had been another attack, when a married Muslim couple killed 14 people and wounded 22 in San Bernardino, Calif.

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