Farmersville residents who oppose plans for a Muslim cemetery are criticizing Muslim burial practices that they say would pose threats to public health.
A standing-room-only crowd gathered Tuesday night in the Collin County town, where officials tried to allay concerns about the cemetery.
Some residents questioned Muslim burial practices and said decomposing bodies would contaminate ground and water.
Khalil Abdur-Rashid with the Islamic Association of Collin County told the crowd that caskets and concrete vaults would be used and state regulations followed.
"American Muslims are not your enemies," he told the audience, The Dallas Morning News reported.
But one resident told the paper that she doesn't trust Muslims and that their goal is to populate the U.S. and take it over.
City says it is treating application fairly
KERA’s Lauren Silverman recently visited Farmersville to report on the tension in the community. City Manager Ben White told KERA his goal is to treat the association’s cemetery application fairly and that it has met all development requirements.
'We are not anti-American'
"We are not Anti-American, anti freedom, radical, extreme, or dangerous," Islamic Association spokesman Khalil Abdur-Rashid told the crowd.
The Islamic group hoped this meeting would clear up any misconceptions and misinformation about the proposed cemetery. Rashid told News 8 in an earlier interview that this is only about finding a place to bury their loved ones.
'I don't like your religion'
Much of the talk focused on negativity toward, and fear of, Islam.
“I don’t like your religion, and I don’t even classify it as a religion,” said one man who spoke at the meeting.
“Sometimes evil comes in sheep’s clothing, so that kind of bothers me,” a woman announced.
“Exactly what ‘Peace’ are you talking about?” asked one man, referring to recent acts of violence committed in the United States and abroad by members of the Muslim faith.
“We have a real anxiousness about Islamic people, Muslim people coming to Farmersville,” said Pastor David Meeks of Bethlehem Baptist Church. “We feel very uncomfortable with that.”
Meeks says it's not just the Islamic cemetery that’s the problem -- it's also what he believes may come after.
“You just can't trust them,” said Meeks. “I don't think they'll tell the truth about this issue.
I think eventually, there will be a mosque. Eventually there will be a training center there…we don't want to hate anyone. We don't want to be mean to anyone. But we see what's happening in the world. It's quite concerning.”
— Ben Russell (@BenRussellNBC5) August 4, 2015
— Jobin Panicker (@jobinpnews) August 4, 2015
— Andrea Lucia (@CBS11Andrea) August 4, 2015
— Dallas Morning News (@dallasnews) August 5, 2015
A cemetery update from Farmersville