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 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 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 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.