A town hall meeting Tuesday night in a usually quiet Texas town of 4,000 did little to quell concerns among residents over a proposed Muslim cemetery. The meeting in Farmersville turned contentious as skeptics of the project aggressively questioned the purpose of the cemetery and how it might affect their quaint community, the Dallas Morning News reported.
“People don’t trust Muslims,” Barbara Ashcraft said after the two-hour meeting, the newspaper reported. “Their goal is to populate the United States and take it over.”
Present at the meeting was Khalil Abdur-Rashid, a representative of Collin County's approximately 22,000 Muslims. He sought to ease concern over Muslim burial practices, which traditionally require that bodies be shrouded in white and placed directly into the ground. Abdur-Rashid said corpses would be placed in wooden caskets and concrete vaults before being placed into the ground -- not unlike the burial practices of Americans from other faith communities.
“That has become local Muslim practice here,” he said.
Mayor Joe Helmberger also tried to ease resident concerns. “They’re going to bury their dead like I bury my dead,” he told the crowd.
Local opposition to the cemetery plans garnered national media attention earlier this summer as residents fiercely protested the project on the basis that Muslim burial practices could lead to a pollution of the county's water supply, and expressed fears that it would propel additional Muslim institutions to move into their quiet town.
Following the last meeting in July, representatives from the Muslim community expressed hope that residents could come to terms with the cemetery proposal. While some present at the meeting did reportedly express support for the plans, it seemed that outreach efforts from the Muslim community failed to win over much of Farmersville before the meeting.
Town Hall meeting in Farmersville, http://t.co/FKjNSlE0ST
— Masjid Al-Rahman (@AlRahmanMasjid1) August 5, 2015
The meeting, held in a local high school cafeteria, failed to convince many residents. One opponent of the project alleged Muslims were permitted to lie, even under oath.
“I don’t know where your information is coming from,” Abdur-Rashid said. “The Quran does not condone, permit or sanction lying of any sort.”
An editorial published on the Dallas Morning News website earlier this week said Farmersville objections to the cemetery were "just plain wrong" and called on residents to end their "fuss."
"The xenophobic reaction to a newly proposed Muslim cemetery has shattered the Collin County town’s serenity and made it a worldwide laughingstock," the editorial read.