Islamic cemetery plan meets resistance in Farmersville

Residents packed a City Council meeting in Farmersville Tuesday night upset over plans to build a cemetery primarily used by Muslims.

FARMERSVILLE — Farmersville, population 3,400, is normally a quiet town in eastern Collin County.

It was a loud community on Tuesday night.

More than 100 residents packed into City Council chambers to share their disapproval of a proposal that would bring an Islamic cemetery within city limits.

"It is my duty and my right to warn when there is a danger," said one resident during the 30-minute public comment portion.

The standing-room-only crowd even had some residents waiting outside, hoping to hear the comments.

"That is not the right land use," one resident said. "It's going to be a great big issue and it's going to kill Farmersville," said another.

The disputed piece of land is on 34 acres and runs along Highway 380, Audie Murphy Highway. As of Tuesday, the land was owned by the Islamic Association of Collin County.

The cemetery is proposed by a group of five Islamic centers in Collin County.

"This is not an issue about religion; this is an issue about human dignity," said the Islamic Association's resident scholar Khalil Abdur-Rashid. He said all this anger stems from misinformation and confusion.

"Some thought it was a mosque going to be built; others thought it was a training ground," Abdur-Rashid said. "We want to be very clear that this is a cemetery."

It would be a final resting place primarily for Muslims, he said, but added the board is working on a special application process that would allow interfaith burials.

"I've seen this highway when it was just two lanes," said Patricia Bosnell, pointing to Highway 380.

She has been a Farmersville resident for 61 years; three generations of her family have called the town home. She she said mystery surrounds the Islamic group and its intentions. Her family has questions about Islam, and specifically about burial practices.

Abdur-Rashid told News 8 there are strict traditions, like burying the dead immediately.

"What do you think they're going to do to someone who is not buried properly?" Bosnell asked.

The proposal still needs to be signed off by the town's planning and zoning board; only then will the City Council hear the proposal.

"There is something about it that ya'll are missing," said one angry resident who feels the city hasn't done enough research.

Abdur-Rashid calls Farmersville the perfect place for the Islamic cemetery. It is a town that prides itself on home-town hero and one of the most decorated war veterans, Audie Murphy. Abdur-Rashid said that connection played a role in the Islamic Association choosing the area.

"We wanted our community to be able to visit their loved ones in a place that is known to provide honor and dignity, and fond memories of those of the past," he said.

The opposition feels the Islamic Association chose Farmersville because they thought it was a small town and no one would fight it. Some even alleging that the organization's proposal had been denied by other Collin County cities.

Abdur-Rashid tells News 8 the other locations in Collin County simply didn't make economic sense, and the options weren't viable.

"We have a moral responsibility to take care of our dead relatives," the Islamic spokesman said.


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