A local mosque’s plans to turn empty land in Newton County into a burial center and place of worship is drawing criticism from an elected official.
Imam Mohammad Islam of the Doraville mosque that bought the more than 100 acres along Highway 162 said they hope to build a place to prepare bodies for burial. There currently aren’t any funeral homes specifically for Muslims in Georgia, he said.
"We need to think about our future, our children, where they will be buried," Islam said.
Islam said his group will focus on the body processing facility and a cemetery to start. After that, he said they will begin plans to develop a mosque. If they secure the funds later on, they may also construct other amenities, like a school and public park.
But the mosque's plans have concerned the local county commissioner, John Douglas.
In the newspaper, the Rockdale Citizen, Douglas questioned whether the development would attract Middle Eastern refugees. He also wondered if there are enough Muslims in the area to support the development.
When contacted, Douglas wouldn't comment further.
Islam said that the Doraville mosque, which is called Masjid At-Taqwa, mainly serves those of Bangladeshi descent. He said they chose the land in Newton County because it was affordable.
Newton County's zoning rules allow places of worship in every district. Lloyd Kerr, Newton's county manager said in a statement that federal law prohibits the county from imposing regulations on one religious development and not others.
A Christian church is across from the street from the land that Islam’s mosque hopes to develop.
“Should this project move forward, the County pledges to work with the developers to protect the interests of our citizens to the best extent possible,” Kerr said in the statement.