Kennesaw City Council denies Muslims mosque, stomps on 1st amendment rights [update]

Kennesaw City Council denies Muslims mosque, stomps on 1st amendment rights [update]

Arsheen Kour and Fatima Elfakahany

Update: According to the Atlanta Journal Constitution‘s update at 10:38 AM on 12/11, Kennesaw’s City Council will re-vote on allowing the mosque after considering the outcries from media and individuals in concern of potential rights violations.

Muslims in Kennesaw are in uproar as the Kennesaw City Council recently denied the Muslim community the opportunity to build a mosque in retail shopping center Kennesaw Commons. Now those who only wish for an area to pray in are left with one pondering question: why?

“I thought that being an American citizen meant that I had certain rights, such as practicing any religion I wanted. Does Kennesaw not acknowledge my rights? Are traffic concerns more important than religion?” senior Sally Murtadhi said, clearly upset with the council’s decision.

The city council maintained that creating a mosque in a shopping plaza would create traffic-related problems. However, there were no concerns revolving around Black Friday shopping traffic, which constituted long lines of still cars and hectic rushing as well as minor accidents. Traffic always exists in plazas. Creating a mosque would not significantly alter the usual traffic.

Council member Debra Williams claims that a mosque deserves no place in a shopping plaza. But let’s be clear, worship centers already exist in shopping centers in Kennesaw. Grace Church, a Christian church located off Ring Road in Kennesaw, sits pretty in a shopping plaza with high traffic. Surely Grace Church is an exception, right? The city council seemingly favors one religion over others, defeating the purpose of a separate church and state.

If Christians can create worship centers in shopping plazas, why can Muslims not? Religion cannot legally be banned, nor should it be. According to our first amendment, Americans have the freedom of religion, meaning one cannot deny the right to worship in any area. By denying a mosque without adequate reason, the Kennesaw City Council directly violates our first amendment rights.

Undoubtedly, protesters holding signs saying “down with Islam” and “no mosque” influenced the council’s decision. By exercising their rights to speak freely and to gather in protest, those people also deny Muslims the right to worship freely. Why can they worship and Muslims cannot? One citizen made a comment stating, “We don’t want to attract any radicals.” Radicals? What religion does not have radicals? Every religion will have a person who misinterprets the religion’s intentions, and commits crimes in the name of their God. Let us not forget the bombings in Massachusetts, Oklahoma City, and Georgia’s own Centennial Park.

The actions of a few do not reflect the feelings of a majority. Do the non-Islamic terrorists shooting up schools stand as the exception to that rule as well?

According to the constitution, every single American is free to practice their religion. By denying a mosque, Kennesaw insults not only a religion, but their own country. America, known widely as the land of the free and the brave…with the exception of Kennesaw, of course.