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After Restrictive Moratorium Lifted, Mosque Building Plans Proceed

posted on: Oct 6, 2016

After Restrictive Moratorium Lifted, Mosque Building Plans Proceed
Proposed plans to build a mosque in Newton County, GA

BY: Roman Johnson/Ambassador Blogger

Enjoying religious freedom is a right extended to all Americans, but some individuals feel this freedom does not apply equally to all. Amid this struggle for religious freedom, a mosque based in Doraville, Georgia has been clamoring for weeks with Newton County officials to build a cemetery there, and erect a small mosque where people could pray. The Al-Mahdi Al-Islami Corporation was the legal entity responsible for purchasing the property in Newton County on behalf of the mosque.

While in the process of building the small mosque, a moratorium (legal freeze) was issued on August 16, restricting the construction of religious structures in Newton County, Georgia. Typically in Newton County, religious buildings by Christian organizations don’t receive push back from community members. However, when residents heard a mosque was being built, a moratorium was enacted that stalled the process of building new buildings. With the help of Newton County commissioners, such as John Douglas, a moratorium was quickly created to stop the building of all new houses of worship. The moratorium was lifted on September 21 and the Al-Mahdi Al-Islami Corporation resumed land acquisition on behalf of the mosque.

According to attorney Edward Mitchell, the executive director of Georgia’s Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) affiliate, Newton County usually “fast tracks” construction of religious institutions. However, the construction of the mosque was halted due to “uproar” in the community, where several individuals have been loudly expressing “anti-Muslim sentiments.” As the moratorium was being prepared, a group of armed individuals arguing for the ban of the mosque building stood while a group of non-violent protesters argued for the exercise of religious freedom. One of the individuals standing with the armed group, according to reporter Deidra Dukes, stated that he believes Muslims in this country want to build worship houses because they want to turn these into “terrorist camp cell(s)” where individuals will be “trained to kill us on the home front.”

After Restrictive Moratorium Lifted, Mosque Building Plans Proceed
Newton County residents debate the mosque building at a town hall meeting. Image Credit: CNN

There is not an exact timetable for the mosque and cemetery’s opening dates, but it might take a few months to build, according to Mitchell. Asma Elhuni, an Arab American activist based in Georgia, feels passionately about the public antagonism against Islam. “As the rights we are entitled to are questioned constantly because of our Muslim faith, how do you think I should feel that something as simple as building a place of worship causes such uproar?”

“Who do I blame? I blame every news station that does not engage in responsible reporting with the bulk of their stories about Muslims being negative in nature, not reflecting the lives of most Muslims. I blame every politician that has stayed quiet in light of [the] mosque building backlash, against anti-Sharia laws, against the constant discrimination Muslims face day in and day out. I want to know when America truly lived by the ideals it brags to everyone else about?”

Pursuing religious liberty is essential for democracy to thrive in the United States. A major victory for the worshippers in Newton County has been won, but the fight to maintain religious liberty for all remains.

Roman Johnson is a student of culture whose interests cross into literature at Sirius Dust Review