Heavily damaged Marietta mosque to be rebuilt

Leaders of a Marietta mosque that burned in an arson fire last summer have resubmitted plans this month with the city to rebuild on the same site.

The Masjid Al-Hedaya (Islamic Center of Marietta) at 968 Powder Springs St. was severely damaged in a July 5 late night fire that was determined to be intentionally set.

Tamsir Mendy, 26, a native of Gambia was charged with first-degree arson for the church fire and is in the Cobb County jail awaiting trial. His case has been placed on a trial calendar, but is not expected to be heard before the next few weeks, said his attorney T. Bryan Lumpkin, who operates a firm in Marietta.

Plans for the new mosque include a 3,320-square foot, two-story metal frame brick building with one floor above and below ground. The building’s maximum height, including the basement level, is 26.5 feet, according to plans submitted to the city. The new building will be almost fireproof with an indoor sprinkler system and concrete floors.

Planning regulations require the new building to adhere to the same zoning, height and use specifications as the original building, and therefore does not have to be approved by the city council. Once the planning officials authorize the plans, construction can begin.

“After approval from the city, we will being rebuilding very fast,” said Hafiz Inayatullah, the mosque’s imam. “We want to get back into our home.”

Since the fire, the congregation has been praying at a rented location in the Bellemeade Shopping Center, also on Powder Springs Street. Inayatullah estimates the construction will take about four months to complete.

At the time of the fire and arrest, law enforcement officials said Mendy may have been in the country illegally. He remains under an ICE detainer, meaning he will be handed over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement for possible deportation after his case is resolved, Cobb sheriff’s spokeswoman Nancy Bodiford said Monday. He also has holds from the Marietta and Smyrna police departments stemming from traffic violations.

After the fire, Mendy’s extended family came to his defense telling reporters that Mendy was being framed. Repeated attempts to reach Mendy’s cousin for this story were unsuccessful.

In a letter dated Jan. 1, 2011, Mendy sent a letter to the court stating that “you have the wrong person.” He goes on to say, “why you people keep playing games, I do not understand and do not understand none of what is being brought to me.”

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