Kentucky Town Still Dealing With Mosque Controversy

Mayfield, KY – The Mayfield Board of Zoning Adjustments voted Tuesday night to discuss again Khadar Ahmed's plan to put the worship center in the building on behalf of Somalis who had recently moved to Graves County to work in a chicken-processing plant.

The zoning board will hold a public hearing on Nov. 9 to discuss the mosque.

The Paducah Sun reported that the board made its decision after a 20-minute executive session, citing pending or threatened litigation. It took no other action.

After the meeting, Ahmed said he was pleased with the outcome before his attorney, Bill Deatherage ended the interview.

"I think this is probably the best result we could hope for," Deatherage said.

The American Civil Liberties Union hired Deatherage, a private attorney from Hopkinsville, to represent Ahmed.

The board denied a permit Aug. 24, reversing a decision made two weeks earlier to approve it, citing concerns about limited parking and capacity in the small commercial building where the mosque was planned.

The board and other city officials heard opposition to the proposal from critics of Islam.

Mayfield City Attorney Boyd Neely said a representative of the Somali community wanted to speak at the Aug. 24 hearing, but was denied entrance by a person who could not later be located.

Neely said that raised due process issues in the denial.

"Let's start over and give everybody a fresh start," board member Richard Wright said.

Mayfield resident Russell Morris, 42, attended Tuesday's meeting. Morris identified himself as a U.S. Army veteran, having been stationed in Korea and Honduras. Morris said he had concerns about parking issues, but hoped they could be worked out so that the Somalis could worship as they please.

Morris noted that Ahmed, along with everyone else at the meeting, stood and placed his hand over his heart during the pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag. He said he took a moment to speak to him after the meeting.

"God bless you, buddy," Morris said. "We're all children of God."