KENNESAW, Ga. (WXIA) – Before a packed meeting Monday evening, the Kennesaw City Council tabled a vote on a proposal that would allow an Islamic worship center to open in the middle of a shopping center, Kennesaw Commons, on Jiles Road near U.S. 41.
The plan drew sharp debate over both zoning and Islam itself.
Supporters said the permit they are seeking would only be for two years, while they find a permanent location for the worship center. The group's application says they would hold daily prayers five times a day -- involving about ten people each time -- as well as a larger and longer worship service each Friday afternoon involving 60 to 80 people.
Opponents argued that a place of worship, no matter the religion, has no place in a retail strip mall. Some expressed opposition to the presence of Muslims, period, saying the worship center in Kennesaw "will endanger our freedom."
"And it's all about safety," said a speaker. "Look at the TV every night. It's global."
"I think that a lot of the rhetoric that we're hearing is based on a lot of fear and discrimination," said one woman. "I urge you to reflect on what I believe America stands for – that we can live together on this planet peacefully."
The council decided not to vote on the proposal on Monday, but rather to table it instead.
Council Member Cris Eaton-Welsh made the motion to table it for two weeks. Her motion passed 3 to 2. Voting to table it were Eaton-Welsh, Tim Killingsworth and Jim Sebastian. Voting against tabling it were Leonard Church and Debra Williams.
When it does come up for a vote, that may not be the final word. The losing side is likely to appeal in the courts.