By Wyndi Veigel
Though two hours of question and answers may not have changed many minds it did give Farmersville residents a better insight into a proposed Muslim cemetery just outside town.
At the Town Hall meeting held at the Farmersville High School Aug. 4, hundreds of residents piled into the school in hopes of answers from a panel.
Panel members included City Manager Ben White, City Attorney Alan Lathrom, Mayor Joe Helmberger and Islamic Association of Collin County Scholar Khalil Abdur-Rashid.
The meeting began with opening comments from both Mayor Helmberger and Abdur-Rashid.
“You may have been told the Quran advocates violence and killing – that is a lie,” Abdur- Rashid said in his opening remarks. “The time has arrived between American Christians and American Muslims to stand together.”
Then moderator James Wilson an attorney from Gay, McCall, Isaacks, Gordon and Roberts, P.C. presented anonymous questions to the panel.
Questions ranged from Muslim burial practices to watershed concerns from audience members. Many of the submitted questions were answered early in the meeting during the opening remarks.
Mayor Helmberger thanked all citizens for coming and shared, at the request of a card from the audience to ‘put bluntly’ how much control the city has where the Muslim cemetery is concerned. “Absolutely zero,” he said.
One facet of the discussion that has been omitted from conversations is that the Farmersville VFW Post has been asked to commit acts of violence to help eliminate the IACC from building the proposed cemetery on the land.
“Please stop with the letters and phone calls,” VFW Commander Darrell Moore said. “We are not the police and we will be following all state and local laws.”
There have also been threats against Planning and Zoning Commission members and City Council members.
Farmersville resident Wendy Wiser asked Abdur-Rashid after all the controversy “why did he want to be here.”
He responded with a quote from Ghandi, which was scoffed at by audience members, saying in essence anything of importance of human value, comes through some hardships.
“We have to stand up and educate,” he said.
The next step for the Muslim cemetery will be the preliminary plat if the project goes ahead. There is no timeframe on either the city or the IACC for this step.
For more information on this topic see The Farmersville Times Facebook page, www. farmersvilletimes.com or the Aug. 13 edition.