KENNESAW, Ga. - The Kennesaw City Council voted to approve a mosque's move into a local shopping center.
The Kennesaw city council orginally voted 4-1 to stop the mosque from moving into a strip mall on Jiles Road. But Monday night, the council members who originally voted no said they wanted their votes changed.
"The legal advice from our own city attorney... not based on input received from the public or anybody else," said Kennesaw Mayor Mark Mathews.
Many believed the council changed their mind after public pressure.
"The city council caved," said resident Kimberly Reckles.
The Suffa Dawat Center requested a land use permit to use the property in the mostly-vacant shopping center.
They said they wanted to move a mosque onto the property for two years while something more permanent is built.
But some Kennesaw residents and fellow business owners protested against the move.
Some of them told Channel 2’s Carl Willis they have reservations about a place of worship coming into a shopping center.
City council members said orginally they believed a mosque would create traffic issues and said the property isn’t zoned for a place of worship.
A complaint was filed with the U.S. Justice Department.
Now, those council members who voted no say they approve, citing just a newly adopted vision statement focused on creating a welcoming environment and a more inclusive city.
"I think we have achieved success for the whole community including those who oppose us," said Khalid Hashmi.
"The Bible says love thy neighbor. Our religion teaches love your neighbor," said Samir Malik.