Far-right figures flock to Georgia mosque debate

Controversy over a proposed mosque in Newton County has attracted some of Georgia’s most notorious far-right extremists as opposition voices.

In the past two weeks, members of the Georgia Security Force III%, a militia group active in pro-Confederate flag demonstrations over the past year, have staged protests over the mosque project in the Covington square. The group is led by former Marine Chris Hill, whose inflammatory online videos caused Newton County commissioners to cancel a public meeting earlier this month for safety concerns.

Joining Hill has been James Stachowiak, an anti-Islamic activist and online talk show host. Shachowiak, who has connections in the patriot movement, put state officials on edge earlier this year when he staged an unsanctioned protest at the state Capitol to shred a copy of the Quran.

Also joining the conversation is Doraville resident Tom Owens, a neighbor of the Masjid At-Taqua mosque who filed — and later abandoned — a lawsuit against the mosque alleging the house of worship was not obeying noise and sanitary regulations. The charges were never proven and local officials say they are without merit, but the lawsuit has re-emerged as a talking point among opponents of the Newton County mosque.