MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Thursday was a huge day for the East Montgomery Islamic Society. A groundbreaking was held for a new mosque, set to be built near the Deer Creek entrance on Vaughn Road.
"It has been a long time coming," Aya Zaied, the youth leader for the East Montgomery Islamic Society, said.
According to Zaied, the project has been 10 years in the making. Members originally came up with the idea in 2007 and in 2011 were able to raise enough money to purchase the property.
The Montgomery Board of Adjustment approved the society's proposal to build a mosque in August.
"The goal we have is to promote diversity and to promote tolerance. We are taught to be good neighbors," Zaied said. "We want our kids to grow up in that environment- a safe and tolerant environment."
Society officials say they hope to have construction completed in the next six months to a year.
"We've has so many great supporters," Zaied said. "The number people that have come out, the number of people that have reached out. It's just really made me feel so happy to be part of Montgomery. I am so glad to be a part of this growing city and I hope that I can contribute to it in a good way and that we all can."
When the proposals for the mosque were initially unveiled, an intense debate was held among city officials, residents, and the East Montgomery Islamic Society.
Some Deer Creek residents voiced concerns that a mosque in the community would decrease the value of their homes and cause traffic and noise problems, but the society promised to work with the community.
Attorneys representing the Islamic Society estimate the membership at the new mosque to be around 60 people, with 20 to 40 of those members coming from the Deer Creek community.