The purchase of a 35-acre plot of land by the Islamic Association of Collin County for a Muslim cemetery has some Texas residents upset.
Farmersville residents say the cemetery, which is 25 miles from the site of the Garland, Texas, shooting in May, is an attempt by Muslims to get a foothold in the town.
The shooting in Garland in May took place outside a contest in which participants drew pictures making fun of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, reported the Daily Mail.
The town of 3,500 mostly white residents already has a Buddhist center and a Mormon church, but some residents think the prospect of a cemetery for Muslims is unacceptable.
Hundreds attended a Farmersville Planning and Zoning meeting to protest the cemetery. The majority of those who spoke do not live within the town of Farmersville, reported Farmersville Times
“The concern for us is the radical element of Islam,” David Meeks, the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, told the Dallas Morning News.
“How can we stop a mosque or madrassa training center from going in there?” he asked, referring to the Arabic word for "school." The word madrassa is sometimes misused to imply a place to teach radical Islam.
Gwen Kakaska, told the Planning and Zoning Commission she does not want her “child indoctrinated toward their religion. I do not want to be constantly in view of a mosque. We do not want this to be a Muslim dumping ground.”
One man told CBS Dallas-Fort Worth that if residents “dump pigs” blood and put pig’s heads on posts then the Muslims “won’t buy the land.”
“There’s just a basic concern or distrust about the cemetery coming into town,” said Mayor Joe Helmberger. He said the townspeople’s worries are unwarranted, adding that the U.S. was founded on religious freedom and that the association is just trying to buy a burial site.
“Some thought it was a mosque going to be built, others thought it was a training ground,” said Khalil Abdur-Rashid, a spokesman for the Islamic Association of Collin County. “We want to be very clear that this is a cemetery.”
There are roughly five Muslim cemeteries in North Texas, and they are running out of space. Alia Salem, executive director of the Dallas-Fort Worth chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations, said the association needs the land for burial.
The state’s rules limit where new cemeteries can be made and Farmersville was one of the few options, Salem told The Associated Press.