HORN LAKE, Miss. — After years of resistance and litigation with the city, the first Muslim mosque in DeSoto County, Mississippi broke ground Friday on Church Road.
Abraham House of God mosque started as a vision between two friends, who have been working to get the mosque built in Horn Lake since 2019.
“We were talking about we needed a mosque or facility for us to go and practice our faith,” said founder Riyadh Elkhayyat, who said it’s been an unexpected journey to get to this point.
“I was so shocked and surprised, because this is my community,” he said. “I was shocked that these people were so biased against Muslim, it has to be. There’s churches wherever we are building our mosque.”
Last year, city leaders voted against plans for the mosque, citing concerns about traffic and noise, among other issues. As a result, Elkhayyat got legal representation from the American Civil Liberties Union of Mississippi and they sued the city for discrimination.
“I don’t think there was any question that the original process that took place in the spring of 2021 was discriminatory,” said attorney Jonathan Youngwood, one of the attorneys who represented the founder of the mosque.
Earlier this year, a federal judge ruled in their favor, making this week’s groundbreaking possible.
Youngwood said he hopes this will be an example for other places where there are religious minorities that aren’t fully understood by their communities.
Now, as members of the Muslim community transform this land into a mosque and cemetery, they say what’s not lost on them is the significance of this moment.
“It is very historic because that would be the first mosque in north Mississippi. I think it’s historic for all the Muslim community in that region, ” Elkhayyat said.
The mosque is expected to be complete in about a year.
The City of Horn Lake declined to comment.