Georgia Muslims dodge building codes through outdoor worshipFebruary 29, 2012
At-Taqwa Mosque has been cited at least six times by DeKalb County and several times by the City of Doraville–two metro-Atlanta jurisdictions that At-Taqwa’s properties overlap. This mosque is taking shortcuts with the safety of the adults and children who attend services there by building slipshod structures that fall short of acceptable construction codes.
At a minimum, the case demonstrates the negligence of the mosque, its leadership, and owners. But it reflects the larger issue of At-Taqwa’s haste to expand as rapidly as possible. At-Taqwa’s attorney writes-off the code citations and a violation of an order from the DeKalb County Probate Court as confusion of the mosque from having to deal with two separate jurisdictions. But At-Taqwa has only itself to blame for spanning city and unincorporated county boundaries; the mosque gobbled up eight parcels of land in the area and put itself in the situation.
At-Taqwa’s aggressive expansion and blatant disregard for DeKalb’s order to stop services suggests that At-Taqwa is spoiling for a fight. It’s a bit like a skinny person asking for seatbelt extenders in an airplane, getting up and down, and switching seats with your buddies without explanation. It suggests a probe to test how serious law enforcement will treat the matter. Atlas Shrugs covered an initial report from WSB-TV. Here’s an update from the DeKalb Champion‘s Feb. 23-29 edition:
Doraville mosque struggles with numerous code violations
by Daniel Beauregard
A mosque that has been cited numerous times for code/zoning violations has continued to hold services even though a court has ordered services to stop, DeKalb County officials said.
The At-Taqwa Mosque, in the 2000 block [2662, 2668, and 2674] of Woodwin Road in Doraville, has been cited at least six times by county code enforcement officials for failing to maintain a certificate of occupancy.
DeKalb County spokesman Burke Brennan said it was because of these citations the owners of the mosque were called in front of a probate court judge last year and ordered to stop holding services.
However, attorney Khurram Baig, who is representing the mosque, said it continued holding services due to a misunderstanding.
“Different people who they were working with in the county gave them different opinions and based on some misunderstandings they went back in the space,” Baig said.
Baig said the mosque had been working with code enforcement officials who told mosque leaders the several buildings they owned were in compliance.
“I can’t deny that they went into the space,” Baig said. “They didn’t know that the probate court is the one that has the final say as to whether they can operate inside the building.”
Both Brennan and Baig said that part of the confusion was because the buildings owned by the mosque are located in both unincorporated DeKalb and the city of Doraville.
“When you’re dealing with municipalities and navigating two different bureaucracies, it can leave people who were born here confused, so you can imagine their confusion being immigrants. It’s just a huge misunderstanding,” Baig said.
Luke Howe, spokesman for Doraville mayor Donna Pittman, said the mosque had been cited numerous times by the city of Doraville as well.
Baig, who has only been representing the mosque for several weeks, said he has informed the owners that if they are going to conduct services it has to be outside, to avoid any further violations.
“For whatever reason the relationship between the mosque and the neighbors is fractured,” Baig said. “There is a neighbor there who is always calling code enforcement out on them and my advice to the mosque was to get into compliance so he can’t continue doing that.”
Baig said he was optimistic all the mosque’s issues would be worked out but said it may take time. In the meantime, he said it would conduct prayer services outside where they would not be committing any code violations.
Anybody else not much comforted by overflow crowds in the parking lots and roads on a mostly residential street where neighbors are already at their wits’ end?
By the way, the imam of the mosque and CEO of the entity that owns the property (Al Maad Al Islami, Inc.) is Mohammed Enamul Haque. Guess where he lives? Lilburn!—the heart of defiant mosques in Georgia. Perhaps Haque saw Dar-E-Abbas Islamic Center get away with repeated code citations in Lilburn and figured he could do the same in DeKalb!