Atlanta, United States – With the US presidential election only days away, many in the US – particularly the Muslim-American community – are bracing for the worst over fears that a win, or a loss, by Republican candidate Donald Trump could bring violence.
Fuelled by Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric, members of local militias from across the US have said they plan to carry firearms at polling stations to prevent alleged election “rigging” in favour of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.
In Newton County, 85km south of Atlanta, Georgia, those concerns are justified.
When a local Muslim-American community in the Atlanta area decided last August to buy land to be used primarily as a community cemetery, they did not expect their innocuous plans would set off a firestorm of opposition that included local officials and armed white nationalist militia groups.
Al Maad al-Islami Mosque sought approval from Newton County to construct a cemetery, a funeral home and, perhaps many years down the road, a mosque and a recreational area on the half a square kilometre of land purchased for the project.
But when word spread of the plans, local residents and several county commissioners protested on the grounds that the property would be used as “training ground for ISIL terrorists”, referring to the armed group known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS.
The plans also drew the attention of a group known as the Georgia Security Force III% , one of many white nationalist militias around the country that have been galvanised by the Trump campaign and his anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric.