More than 100 residents in a small Texas city crowded into a council meeting on Tuesday night to publicly push back against the proposed installation of an Islamic cemetery.
Some locals in Farmersville, Texas, are questioning the intentions of the Islamic Association of Collin County, a Muslim group that owns 34 acres of land in the city, though the group says that it simply wants to create a place there where Muslims can be laid to rest, WFAA-TV reported.
From claims that this is not the best use of the land to proclamations that "danger" could be afoot, scores of residents in the city of 3,400 crammed into the council meeting to voice their opinions during a 30-minute portion reserved for public comment.
"It is my duty and my right to warn when there is a danger," one person proclaimed.
Resident Mont Hendrick added, "We used to grow onions here. We sure enough don’t want to be growing bodies."
Some also told KTVT-TV that they had fears over Islamic burial practices, particularly the burial of bodies not long after individuals die.
"When somebody dies they bury them at that time," said local Troy Gosnell. "They don’t know whether they were shot, diseased or anything else. All they do is wrap them in a sheet from the grave and bury them."
But Khalil Abdur-Rashid, a scholar with the Muslim group, told WFAA-TV that he believes that misinformation is driving much of the opposition and furor being observed in Farmersville.
"Some thought it was a mosque going to be built; others thought it was a training ground of some sort," he said. "We want to be very clear that this is a cemetery."
Alia Salem, executive director of the Council on American Islamic Relations of Dallas, added to these sentiments in an interview with KTVT-TV, saying that this is a good time for people to come together to educate one another.
"They are fearful of what they don’t understand and hopefully it’s an opportunity for us to come together and learn a little bit more about each other and hopefully dispel some of those misconceptions," Salem said.
Outrage has unfolded before the Islamic Association of Collin County has had the chance to see its proposal signed off on by the city's zoning board — a requirement before officials with city council can actually hear and decide on the cemetery, according to WFAA-TV.