Farmersville, TX

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Description

A documented account of Case No. TX_03, occurring in Farmersville, TX, 75442 from May 2015 to December 2018

Creator

Snehitha Vardhineni

Year

2015

Proposed Project

Cemetery developed on land not owned by IACC, but owner approves of development. The cemetery was to include restrooms, a pavilion, a maintenance building, and approximately 11,000 burial sites.

Outcome

Denied at first, but approved after three years in December 2018. The cemetery is currently being built in Farmersville, TX

Narrative

Background

Farmersville is a rural Texas city in Collin County with an estimated population of 3,500 people. The Islamic Association of Collin County (IACC) proposed to build a cemetery in Farmersville in May 2015 for multiple reasons: IACC was running out of space to bury their members at Restland Cemetery in Dallas. Most cities other than Farmersville in Collin County such as McKinney, Allen, Blue Ridge, and Anna either did not have adequate space or had certain restrictions against building cemeteries (Veigel 2015).

Details about the proposed project

The IACC proposed to build a cemetery at the intersection of U.S. 380 and County Road 557 (Yeomans, 2018). The property was to include restrooms, a pavilion, a maintenance building, and 11,000 burial sites (Light, 2018) . When IACC proposed the construction of a cemetery to the City of Farmersville, the Planning and Zoning Commission had a special session on May 28, 2015. The City’s engineering firm reviewed the plan and recommended its approval with the “exception that all items per the engineering letter be confirmed complete and pending inclusion of any comments from the City Engineer” (“Farmersville Planning & Zoning Commission Special Session Minutes”, 2015)

Details about the conflict

As the public found out about the construction of a cemetery by an Islamic association being positively received by the local government, people began to protest the plans. At a town hall meeting on July 6, 2015, some residents of Farmersville and some people who lived outside the city limits indicated concerns about the city becoming a “Muslim dumping ground” (Veigel, 2015). The area already had a Mormon church and a Buddhist center, but large amounts of people showed up to protest the IACC’s plans. This could be due to the “anti-Muslim distrust” among people after a deadly shooting carried out by two Muslim men in Garland, TX, a city approximately 25 miles away from Farmersville (Associated Press in Dallas, 2015). While some local members of the Christian community such as David J. Meeks, the pastor of the Bethlehem Baptist Church, outwardly spoke about their concerns regarding this project, others such as Bart Barber, the pastor of the First Baptist Church in Farmersville, supported IACC by saying “The rights of conscience are inalienable, and religious conscience is among those inalienable rights – and that includes Muslims. If I can build a church, Muslims can build a mosque” (Holley, 2015). At one point, city officials reported receiving death threats and threats to their livelihood.

Thoughts of the Muslim community

Abdur-Rashid, a full-time employee of IACC, said that one of the main goals of the association is to inform people about what Islam is and is not in the United States (Veigel, 2015). He also said that the comments people made about the case were “quite hurtful and very full of hate” (ibid.). Abdur-Rashid discussed how the 22,000 Muslims in Collin County, spread over the five IACC centers (two in Plano, one in Allen, one in McKinney, one in Frisco), need a place within the county to bury their dead. Abdur-Rashid was willing to clear out the air between the residents of Farmersville and the Muslim community in order to help get the proposal approved.

Outcome

IACC’s proposal to build the cemetery in Farmersville was denied in July 2017. In September 2017, the United States opened an investigation to inspect the reasons behind the city’s decisions to deny the proposal. After investigating for more than a year, the United States concluded that the City of Farmersville violated the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000 (RLUIPA) in August 2018. The Justice Department planned to file suit but gave the City of Farmersville a chance to negotiate with IACC. Within a month, the City and IACC came to the agreement to approve the proposal to build the cemetery. In December 2018, The City of Farmersville approved IACC’s application to develop the land as a cemetery (Department of Justice, 2019).

Last Updated

November 4, 2019

Collection

Citation

Snehitha Vardhineni, “Farmersville, TX,” U.S. Mosque Controversies, accessed January 20, 2022, https://usmc.ecdsomeka.org/items/show/21.

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