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Letter: A Muslim in Newton County
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My family moved to Newton County in 1994. In the ensuing 22 years, I have been blessed to live that time in my county, as both a Christian initially, and now as a Muslim. As a young Christian, I didn’t like going to church in Rockdale because I didn’t like to drive that far to worship.

Fast forward a decade and now, as a Muslim, I faced the same dilemma. For years, the nearest mosque to Covington was in Lithonia. I loved the mosque but hated driving to it. I met dozens of fellow worshippers who made the weekly trek from Covington (or farther east for many) to Lithonia. None of us were fans of the drive. By some minor miracle about six years ago, we were able to establish a mosque in Conyers. Sure, it’s closer, thank God. But coming from Covington, it’s still not a fun drive…on any day, at any time of day.

And this brings me to why the proposed mosque in Covington would be beneficial for EVERYONE. At our small mosque in Conyers, among the congregants are a dozen or so medical doctors — medical doctors who live and/or work in Newton County, who heal Newton County citizens. Every minute they don’t spend in their cars driving to Friday Prayers is a minute they could spend serving our community.

One of the complaints about the proposed mosque – I’m choosing to ignore all those that amount to not-so-thinly-veiled racism and xenophobia – revolves around an imaginary traffic problem. As I mentioned, I’ve lived in Newton County for 22 years and even I had to look up where County Line Road is. And from what I hear, the proposed mosque may not even be open daily, but will be used primarily for funeral prayers. The beauty in having the funeral prayer and burial on the same property is that there would be no funeral traffic processions. Furthermore, if you’re the kind of person that complains about FUNERAL TRAFFIC, it’s time for you to grow up and (re)join humanity.

I don’t claim to represent or speak for the more than one billion Muslims on the planet. Nor am I affiliated with the group that bought the land where the proposed mosque is planned. However, I would like to think that I can ably represent the dozens/hundreds/however many Muslims in this county who don’t like having to drive to another county to worship. We simply want to worship God peacefully in Newton County, like we’ve been doing in Rockdale County for years. None of the imaginary problems that people fantasize about the Newton Mosque have happened in Rockdale. In fact, it’s had so little impact on the community that this is probably the first time many of you are hearing about it. If we could all let go of hate and step into the 21st century, I have no doubt the proposed Newton Mosque will have a positive impact on Newton County or at worst, no impact at all.

David Rodriguez