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Press Conference Aug. 23 @ 12:30 pm: CAIR-GA, NAACP, Other Groups Plan To Offer Update on Newton Mosque

CAIR Minnesota(ATLANTA, GA, 8/23/16) – The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA) today announced that it plans to hold a joint press conference with the Georgia NAACP and several other organizations on Tuesday, Aug. 23rd, at 12:30 pm at Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. Speakers plan to announce several updates regarding the blocked mosque in Newton County, and respond to the anti-Muslim rhetoric expressed at an Aug. 22nd town hall meeting held in Newton County.
CAIR-GA plans to provide updates regarding the status of the Justice Department's response to CAIR-GA's call for a federal investigation, the status of the blocked mosque's outreach to local churches and community leaders, and CAIR-GA's plan to visit Newton County and deliver an Islam 101 presentation to the public.
WHEN: Tuesday, August 23, 12:30 p.m.
WHERE: Atlanta Masjid of Al-Islam. 560 Fayetteville Rd SE, Atlanta, GA 30316
CONTACT: CAIR-GA Exec. Dir. Edward Ahmed Mitchell; 404-285-9530; This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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CAIR-GA Calls for Dekalb Police to Probe Bias Motive in Vandalism of Muslim Charity ICNA

CAIR Minnesota

(8/19/2016 - ATLANTA, GA) The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA) today called on Dekalb County law enforcement to investigate a possible bias motive for an Aug. 17th attack on an Islamic charity in Stone Mountain. CAIR-GA also called on law enforcement to increase police patrols near the charity as well as near Muslim houses of worship in the area.

Sometime during the evening of Aug. 17th, an unknown number of attackers shattered the glass entry door to the Stone Mountain office of the Islamic Circle of North America (ICNA), an American Muslim charity that serves thousands of Georgians of all faiths every year. 

The vandals then entered the office, broke into the food pantry for the poor, and scattered halal meat and other food across the floor without stealing any items. 

Halal meat, like kosher meat for observant Jews, is specially prepared meat that is permissible for Muslims to eat. The vandals also left computers, printers and other items of value untouched.

"The cowards who attacked a charity in the middle of the night should know that they cannot deter Georgia Muslims from living our lives," said Edward Ahmed Mitchell, executive director of CAIR-GA. "God willing, we will keep praying five times a day, visiting our houses of worship, and donating to Georgians in need. We fear God, not vandals."

Mitchell added, "We call on law enforcement to investigate this cowardly attack on a charity as a potential act of bigotry. "Local authorities should also consider increasing patrols near the charity as well as Muslim houses of worship in the area.

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CAIR Georgia, Other Civil Rights Groups Seek DOJ Investigation After County Blocks Mosque

CAIR Minnesota
ATLANTA, GA, 8/18/16) - The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA) today called on the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) to investigate Newton County for blocking Georgia Muslims from building a house of worship on their own property, despite prior county approval and local law allowing them to do so.
Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson, president of the Georgia chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), attorney Azadeh Shahshahani of Project South and nearly twenty Georgia Muslim non-profit organizations co-signed a letter that CAIR Georgia sent directly to the commissioners.
"Newton County's commissioners abandoned their oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution, as well as their own local laws, because of fear and bigotry," said CAIR-GA Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. "We urge federal authorities to investigate this clearly discriminatory decision and protect the religious rights of all Georgians."

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Letter for Newton County

Dear Commissioner:
I am Edward Ahmed Mitchell, attorney and executive director of the Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, our nation’s largest and oldest Muslim civil liberties organization. We engage in interfaith dialogue, counter extremism, and defend the U.S. Constitution by investigating incidents of anti-Muslim discrimination.
On behalf of the listed signatories, including the Georgia chapter of the NAACP and INSERT OTHER GROUP, we write in regard to your decision to freeze the planned construction of a local Muslim house of worship, despite a permit and local law allowing Newton's Muslim community to proceed.
As you know, the Newton County Commission’s decision came after a week in which local leaders and citizens expressed opposition to the project based largely on anti-Muslim bigotry.
“The first question that comes to my mind is if there are enough Muslims in south Newton County that we need to build not only a mosque but a community, a school and what all is in the plan,” Commissioner John Douglas told The Rockdale Citizen, “would building those things make us a prime area for the federal government to resettle refugees from the Middle East? So I do have some concerns, like the people who live down there.”
Local leaders also expressed opposition to the mosque because it is a mosque.
“Please, pray for our county regarding the proposed mosque to be built here (right in front of our church!)," the County Line Baptist Church said in a Facebook post before the Aug. 15 meeting. "God is able to thwart the plans of men. The Newton County Board of Commissioners will meet tonight. Pray for that meeting.”
Community members also contacted your office to express outrage based on anti-Muslim bigotry. As Commissioner Douglas told The Rockdale Citizen, “I’ve got some unhappy campers out there. “All the emails I’ve gotten this morning have been negative for various and sundry reasons.”
Indeed, we suspect that a Freedom of Information Act Request would reveal that your offices were overwhelmed with messages expressing anti-Muslim sentiments. A packed audience at your public meeting even applauded when you unanimously voted to freeze the project.
Although we understand that you must always consider such community concerns, those concerns should never trump your obligation to uphold the U.S. Constitution and federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as your own local laws.
If a group of Protestants had secured a permit to build a new church and a Christian cemetery, the commission would not have objected, much less taken the extraordinary step of undermining county law with a sweeping moratorium. 
Although you may consider this moratorium constitutional because it impacts all potential projects equally, the fact that the moratorium was clearly motivated by opposition to the faith identity of this specific project makes the moratorium as offensive as it is unconstitutional.
This discriminatory behavior has harmed the reputation of Newton County and undermined American values. Such anti-Muslim bigotry could also embolden ISIS and other radical extremist groups overseas who seek new recruits by arguing that that our nation is at war with American Muslims.
For the sake of combating extremism, upholding American values and treating all citizens equally, we ask you to voluntarily bring this discrimination to an end at your next public meeting.
We call on you to lift the moratorium, publicly apologize to the people of Newton County, and collaborate with your American Muslim constituents to ensure that their new house of worship comes to fruition in a way acceptable to all interested parties.
CAIR-GA would also like to meet with the county commission to deliver an educational presentation about the beliefs and practices of the American Muslim community, which includes many doctors, lawyers, police officers, engineers, business owners, athletes, and entertainers, as well as 5,000 American Muslims who serve in the U.S. military. We hope that this informational presentation will correct the misinformation about Islam that often leads to anti-Muslim bigotry.
Please respond as soon as you can. If we do not hear a positive response before or at the next county commission meeting on Aug 22nd, we will have no choice but to insist that that U.S. Department of Justice take action against Newton County resolve this situation.
With thanks,
Edward Ahmed Mitchell
Attorney & Executive Director,
Council on American-Islamic Relations
Georgia Chapter
Rev. Dr. Francys Johnson
National Association for the Advancement of Colored People
Georgia Chapter


CAIR-GA Launches 'Conservative Outreach Initiative' To Combat Islamophobia

Tea Party
(ATLANTA, GA - 8/17/16) - The Georgia chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-GA) today announced the start of an outreach initiative designed to reduce Islamophobia by educating political activists, particularly conservatives, about mainstream Muslim beliefs and practices.
"During the 2000 presidential election, many American Muslims voted for George W. Bush," said CAIR-GA Executive Director Edward Ahmed Mitchell. "However, the rise of violent extremism overseas, as well as Islamophobia here at home, has led some conservatives to fear and even loathe their neighbors. Georgia Muslims—who love God, family, and country as much as any other American—hope to put those fears to bed by addressing them head-on at their source."

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