Athens Shows Support for Local Muslim Community


Cars lined up and down the street and a standing-room-only crowd was present for the 2nd annual Open House at the Al Huda Islamic Center this past Saturday in Athens.  According to event organizers, the crowd in attendance was substantially larger than last year’s event, and Imam Adel Amer said he was touched by the love he felt from the people of Athens.

Imam Adel Amer discusses his feelings and reaction to Open House turnout.

 “I can’t tell you how many messages of support we’ve gotten,” Amena Abbas, one of the event organizers, said. “Phone calls, letters, cards.  Right after Trump announced his Muslim ban, that’s when everyone started contacting us.  And of course today, everyone came out to show their supportive spirit.” 

The event itself was organized to further the local community education of Islam, and included a variety of attractions:

Guided Tours through the Mosque

Question and Answer Sessions

Free Qurans and literature

Food, customs, and art demonstrations

History and Information lecture

Edward Ahmed Mitchell, the executive director of the Georgia chapter of The Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR Georgia), was the featured speaker of the event, and delivered an educational presentation on Islam as well as answered any and all questions from the audience.  Mitchell’s work is primarily devoted to defending individual civil rights through the CAIR organization, but he also spends his time presenting educational lectures to various community organizations throughout the state of Georgia.

Opened in 1987, the Al Huda Islamic Center has served as the only mosque available to the Athens area Muslim population since its establishment.  Twenty-eight year old event organizer Amena Abbas, who was born and raised in Athens, has noticed an increase in membership at Al Huda during her lifetime.  According to Abbas, the Muslim community in the Athens area has grown to around 500 and Al Huda serves as their only option for a house of worship.    Initially met with local community resistance to its construction, the foundation was spearheaded mainly by international Muslim University of Georgia students.  To this day, international students make up a majority portion of the Al Huda membership.

Talal Alothman, a 26 year old masters student in computer science, became involved with Al Huda after moving to Athens from Saudi Arabia in 2014.  Although Al Huda has hosted less formal open houses in the 90’s and early 2000’s, the community center had not hosted a formal open house for several years prior to last year’s event.  According to Alothman the political rhetoric of the past few years led the community organizers to revitalize the open house idea.

“I think it was very important that we not let anyone else speak for us, and that we speak for ourselves,” Alothman said.  “This is who we are. This is our community, and we are your neighbors.”

By: Patrick O’Shea



Leave a Reply