Atlanta Muslim Organization Struggles to Get New Cemetery Approved For Zoning

February 7, 2002

Source: The Atlanta Journal and Constitution

On February 7, 2002, The Atlanta Journal and Constitution reported that "Bert Nasuti tried to set the record straight Tuesday night as the Gwinnett County Planning Commission heard impassioned arguments for and against a planned Islamic cemetery near Lawrenceville... 'We're not here to make decisions about religion,' said Nasuti, the panel's chairman. 'We're here to make land use decisions'... Dennis Still, an attorney for the Georgia Islamic Institute of Religious & Social Sciences, set the tone early... Still reminded the commission of his clients' First Amendment right to religious freedom. And he urged the commisisoners not to treat the institute any differently from other religious groups when considering a rezoning request for the proposed 1,500-plot cemetery... 'This is a Muslim organization,' Still said. 'It is not some cult. They value their dead no less than you or I or anyone else'.. The Planning Commission vote was delayed three times --- twice because of neighbors' concerns and once at the institute's request in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The group, which has a mosque 3.5 miles from the proposed cemetery, has said the burial ground would be more convenient for many of the Atlanta area's estimated 60,000 Muslims, particularly those living in the northern and eastern suburbs... The County Commission is scheduled to hear the case March 26."