Target: Keith Ellis, Chairman of the Newton County Board of Commissioners
Goal: Allow Muslim group to practice their religion in peace despite bigoted protests.
Islamophobia has reached a fever pitch in many places around the world, particularly the United States. Myths and misunderstandings reinforced by inflammatory politics lead bigots to believe that all those who practice Islam are potential terrorists. Unsurprisingly, these anti-Muslim sentiments are making it harder and harder for Muslim-Americans to practice their religion in peace.
This problem was evident when a public forum was held in Newton County, Georgia to discuss a proposal to build a mosque. Of the 600 people who crammed themselves into the courthouse for this meeting, the overwhelming majority of them were there to protest the potential mosque. Like far too many uninformed citizens, they were under the impression that Muslims pose a threat and should not be allowed to practice their religion freely.
County commissioners have not yet decided when they will vote on the mosque, but the overwhelming public dissent indicates a strong possibility that they will not grant a building permit. It is important that these commissioners do not let their decision be influenced by bigotry and misinformation. Muslim-Americans are just as American as anyone else, which means that their First Amendment right to freedom of religion must be applied just as equally.
We cannot continue to allow ignorance and hate to infringe on the rights of Muslim-Americans. They deserve a place of worship just as much as any other religious group does. Tell Newton County’s commissioners to act ethically and preserve Muslim-Americans’ right to practice their religion freely.
Dear Chairman Ellis,
There is no avoiding the fact that Islamophobia has become a serious problem in the United States. Sensationalist media may try to paint Muslims as “dangerous” or “extremists,” but in truth Muslim-Americans are not really any different from any other Americans. More importantly, they are not any less American than any other American, meaning that their constitutional rights deserve equal protection.
After hearing about Newton County’s recent town meeting, I am concerned that the city’s Muslim-Americans’ religious freedom will be stifled due to bigotry. As you are probably aware, a proposal to build a new mosque in Covington was met with vehement protests. These protests were based almost entirely on misconceptions about Muslims and Islam. Such ignorance and hatred will do nothing but exacerbate existing tensions between cultural and ethnic groups. Even worse, it will give Georgia’s Muslim citizens the impression that they are not welcome.
Please do not allow the protesters’ ignorance to influence the commissioners’ decision regarding the mosque. If all requirements for a building permit are met, there is no reason that this mosque should not be built. I hope that the county commissioners will vote on the matter promptly and that their decision will be ethical and just.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Omar A.