DALTON, Ga. - In the 10 years Mohammed Hassan has lived in Dalton, he says he's never had a problem living in the predominantly Christian city. Even after some local residents called their hoped-for new mosque a "terrorist hideout" during a public hearing last week, Mr. Hassan, 28, and other Muslims say they still feel welcome in Whitfield County. "What happened in court doesn't represent the majority in Whitfield County," Mr. Hassan said about the zoning hearing. "Even after (the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks) they were very understanding. I was never subjected to anything." Tareq Elsayed, 29, said he was shocked about the "terrorist hideout" comment and other things people said in the zoning hearing. "After Sept. 11, most people think that because we're Muslim, we're terrorists," Mr. Elsayed said. "It's just a personal act.
It has nothing to do with Islam." Despite the Zoning Board's unanimous recommendation of approval, Whitfield County commissioners voted unanimously to table the Dalton Islamic Center's request to rezone 11.15 acres at 2054 Dug Gap Road to build a mosque. Commissioners cited sewage and safety issues. They are expected to take up the issue on either June 13 or Sept. 12, depending on whether they want a traffic study completed before they make a decision, said Bradley Arnold, county administrator. "I'm still optimistic," Mr. Hassan said after Monday night's vote. "We have good faith. None of us are upset. We wanted it to be done today, but I'm sure there are a lot of pressures." (MORE)