Tag Archives: georgia

Atlanta: Reconnecting with our Bosnian friends

By Craig Considine – One usually doesn’t imagine dirt roads and mosques near each other.  Much to our surprise though, this was reality when we visited the Bosnian Islamic Cultural Center in Snellville, Georgia during our stay in Atlanta.  After being stuck in traffic for a good hour (and lost for a bit), Dr. Ahmed, Hailey, and our Bosnian friend Damar finally found the road we were looking for.  In fact, it isn’t even a real road – it isn’t paved, but was filled with dust, dirt and rubble.  The mosque rested a few hundred yards deep in the woods.  A driver isn’t even able to see it while driving on the highway because it is hidden behind a thick forest of trees.

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Inauguration Day on Sapelo Island

While the whole world watched the inauguration of Barack Hussein Obama in Washington DC our team was far away on the island of Sapelo in Georgia. We were there to investigate links between the US and Islam going back centuries to the Africans brought to this country as slaves. After almost being refused seats on our American Airlines propeller flight from Miami to Jacksonville due to an “excess in weight” and taking a rickety boat from the Georgia mainland, we were met by our host, Cornelia Walker Bailey.

Ms. Bailey is a direct descendent of Bilali Muhammed, a West African slave brought to Sapelo in the early 19th century. She is a writer and preservationist of the island’s unique culture and is proud of her Muslim heritage. Attempting to ignore it, she said, would be like “chopping off an arm.” Although Bilali’s descendents converted to Christianity, the isolation of the island meant that certain Islamic practices remained. We were surprised to discover that men and women commonly sit on opposite sides of the church during services as in a mosque, and all shoes had to be removed in services until recently. The churches face Mecca and people are buried facing Mecca. The island only has around 50 slave descendents living there today, and history is all around, from the old plantation house bought by tobacco titan R. J. Reynolds to a slave cemetery we visited with graves dating back well into the 19th century.

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