NEWTON COUNTY, Ga. - At the stroke of midnight Tuesday, a temporary moratorium on new houses of worship in Newton County expired, clearing the way for a controversial mosque to be built. Protesters on both sides weren't going to let it happen without making their voices heard.
Standing with a militia group that opposes the mosque, Jimmy Cheek expressed his concerns. “What they're building is a terrorist cell camp where they'll be trained to kill us on the home front,” said Cheek.
On the opposite side of the Newton County square, opposite views from a group of Newton County residents who said they support freedom of religion. “I think it's important we stand up and support our Muslim neighbors and religious freedom,” said Lorie Davis.
Earlier this summer, people on both sides packed county commission meetings voicing their concerns about plans for a mosque and cemetery to be built on 135 acres off Highway 162. That's when commissioners put a temporary moratorium on new houses of worship.
The day the moratorium was set to expire, there was also a regular county commission meeting, but the board took no action, just allowed the moratorium to expire. “It is not an endorsement either way on the moratorium, simply it is expiring,” said Chairman Keith Ellis.
Outside the courthouse the militia group, Georgia Security Force III% stood well into the night, saying the fight isn't over. “We're not going to go away quietly into the night, we're going to keep fighting it every step of the way,” said Chris Hill.