Creeping along in Farmersville. Then again, Texas has been one of the top destinations for Muslim refugees and immigrants, as well as those here illegally.
You can count on one hand the number of Muslim cemeteries in Dallas-Fort Worth. That has slowly become a growing concern as cemetery spaces start to dwindle.
“We need a place for our loved ones who passed away,” said resident scholar Arsalan Haque with the Islamic Association of Collin County.
There are three main Muslim cemeteries, according to the community members WFAA spoke with: In Denton, in Dallas at Restlands, and in Fort Worth.
In Farmersville on Monday night, the Islamic Association of Collin County took a second pass at putting in a cemetery just off Highway 380.
Arsalan says the association made the necessary adjustments this second time around.
“They asked us to widen the roads and they asked us to have two major accesses to the cemetery instead of just one,” said Haque.
The city’s planning and zoning committee didn’t take public comment and it normally doesn’t this early on in the process. But that didn’t stop George Sossamon from publicly showing how he felt with a shirt that read, “Just Say No to Muslim Cemetery.”
The committee voted to approve the concept plan. The discussion will soon move onto more specific parts of the project as the committee votes on preliminary plat process. A decision on when that will be heard is still up in the air and will certainly come with a public hearing.
WFAA met with David Meeks is a Christian pastor at Bethlehem Baptist in Farmersville.
“What happens when the door gets opened for a cemetery? Eventually there’ll be a mosque and eventually we’ll have a conclave,” he said.
If approved the cemetery would be three miles from George’s home.
“It affects me as the reputation of my town. What does everybody else view it as?” he asked.
The portion of land under consideration is roughly 34 acres and has already been purchased by the association. The group hopes there’s room for 14,000 burial spaces and expects opposition at each step.
“We need to reach out and help people get to know real Muslims,” said Haque.
Passage Monday night did not take long, but it is just the beginning for both sides.
Another media report had conflicting numbers regarding the number of Muslim cemeteries in the area and the number of burial plots at the Farmersville site.
Muslim leaders say there are some five Muslim cemeteries in North Texas and they have little remaining space. State rules limit where a new cemetery can be placed and Muslim officials say Farmersville was one of the few options open to the association. The Farmersville land would offer up to 15,000 burial sites.