Feds weigh whether to investigate Newton County mosque debate

An overflow crowd waits in line outside the historic Newton County courthouse during the first town hall meeting to discuss plans to build a mosque and cemetery in the county on Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, in Covington. The turnout forced the county to hold two meetings back to back to accommodate residents wanting to speak. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

An overflow crowd waits in line outside the historic Newton County courthouse during the first town hall meeting to discuss plans to build a mosque and cemetery in the county. Curtis Compton /ccompton@ajc.com

Federal prosecutors have taken the first step toward opening an investigation into a vote by Newton County commissioners to block the construction of a mosque, a Muslim advocacy group said Tuesday.

Edward Ahmed Mitchell of the Georgia chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations said the Department of Justice informed him it was reviewing the case and would next decide whether to launch a formal probe. A Justice Department spokesman confirmed the office received his request but declined to comment further.

The federal scrutiny comes after the vote last week that imposed a five-week moratorium on permits for all places of worship in Newton County. Local lawmakers unanimously voted for the moratorium after residents raised concerns over plans by Al Maad Al Islami for a mosque, cemetery and burial facility on a 135-acre tract of land.

“The fact that they’re even looking at it should lead the Newton County Commission to come to its senses and avoid the possibility of a legal battle,” said Mitchell.

Here’s more on the debate from our AJC colleague Meris Lutz, who reported that hundreds packed a Covington courthouse on Monday for hearings on the mosque.

The majority of speakers came out against the mosque, citing concerns over terrorism and assimilation of Muslims into the community. Some expressed fear that the mosque would become an al-Qaida training camp or impose Sharia law on the community.

A few said they were concerned about the impact of a large development.

Georgia politicians have long struggled to grapple with proposals for mosques. Kennesaw’s city council initially rejected a request to allow a storefront mosque before reversing under the threat of a lawsuit. And Lilburn legislators voted to allow a mosque to expand after costly litigation and pressure from the Justice Department.

Reader Comments 0

22 comments
CharlesThomas Duke
CharlesThomas Duke

Send them back to Mecca,and ban them to never come back,their terrorist

Beth Oliver
Beth Oliver

Do you think this town ever rejected a Baptist church? A Methodist? Catholic? It will be just another slap in the face with the Constitution for the Leaders of Georgia.

Larry O Brown
Larry O Brown

The more I see of your posts here, I'm beginning to think YOU are a MUSLIM sympathizer...................wanna fess up?

Chuck Macklin
Chuck Macklin

Just another Hitliary troll zombie using the $oro$ money to feed a mobile home full of cats

Beth Oliver
Beth Oliver

I confess... I am a Constitution sympathizer.

Sam Nicholas
Sam Nicholas

More tax dollars wasted on frivolity. #FiscalRepublicans

Teresa Holman
Teresa Holman

Might be some bad associations with this mosque other than CAIR. That's me ESP again. LOL

Barry Cooper
Barry Cooper

This is a legal matter. The courts will decide. All else is but grandstanding and intimidation for which AJC gets its lifeblood from.

Erik Moore
Erik Moore

Yes yes, all the Muslims are going to over take your open air meth lab of a town because they totally want to Sharia Law all of you to death and throw gays off the roof of the tallest buildings in your rural community which is the local Walmart and by gosh ain't they lucky that's where 90% of you inbred simpletons will be on any given day so they won't have to look far to find victims!! Goooooood Lawd Georgia!!

Jared Christopher
Jared Christopher

That's some mighty fine signaling there, but you forgot to call them racist.

Erik Moore
Erik Moore

Randy Baldwin thank you for proving my point!

Larry O Brown
Larry O Brown

They will, and coming for your daughters and sons soon................

Erik Moore
Erik Moore

Larry O Brown I'll take my chances I guess. Can't live in fear, I leave that for conservatives.......

Sam Nicholas
Sam Nicholas

It's Abrahamic, from the same line of Abraham that gave the world King David, Jesus, and Muhammed from Abraham's concubine. Stop cleaning your AK and don't just thump that bible, read it.

Mark Cotner
Mark Cotner

Was there a federal crime? No? Then maybe Lynch should keep her minions in DC.

Billy Wyatt
Billy Wyatt

Rey your use of the English Vocabulary is impressive.