Hundreds of people gathered at the Newton County, Ga., courthouse on Aug. 22 to attend a public hearing and express opposition to a local Muslim community’s plans to build a mosque and cemetery outside of Covington.
Most speakers blasted the plan, with some even suggesting the mosque could become a terrorist training camp, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported – yet they insisted they were not motivated by anti-Muslim bias.
“To say we wish to disallow this project based on religious discrimination … is ludicrous and hypocritical,” an unnamed woman said. “They are discriminating against us by calling us infidels who do not believe in their religion.”
A local Muslim leader, Edward Ahmed Mitchell, said that fear shouldn’t lead to religious discrimination.
“For the sake of defending the Constitution, upholding American values … I encourage all Georgians to speak out against the unfair, unethical and unconstitutional behavior,” Mitchell, executive director of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, told a local TV station.
County commissioners voted to put a moratorium on the construction of all houses of worship in the county, but that move drew backlash. The commissioners on Aug. 31 said they would lift the moratorium at a later meeting, but that meeting was cancelled due to security concerns.