The Covington News - - OPINION - Dear editor, Peace, David Ro­driguez

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 notso-thinly-veiled racism and xeno­pho­bia – re­volves around an imag­i­nary traf- fic 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.

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