City council meetings in the small town of Farmersville, Texas are usually pretty quiet. The town, located fifty miles northeast of Dallas, has a population of just over 3,000. Although Farmersville typically goes unnoticed by national news, a recent debate has shaken the community and thrust it into the spotlight: a proposal for an Islamic cemetery.
Arnessa Garrett, assistant editor for the Dallas Morning News, covers the county where Farmersville, and the proposed cemetery, are located. Garret joins the Standard today to discuss the concerns surrounding the cemetery.
On the area’s Muslim population:
“There are an estimated 22,000 Muslims in Collin County. Five Islamic centers joined together to find a place where they could have a cemetery. Questions were raised about what the plans exactly are for the sites. Some residents in Farmersville wondered whether a larger Muslim enclave is being planned, whether there would be a mosque or some type of school on the site eventually. And some were concerned about Muslim burial practices.”
On Muslim burial customs:
“According to Muslim tradition, bodies are not embalmed, and some people wondered whether that was safe and sanitary. But of course, in other religious traditions, bodies are not embalmed as well. A spokesman for the Islamic center told the Dallas Morning News that the bodies would be washed in warm water in accordance to Muslim tradition, and would be placed in shrouds. And then the bodies would be put in coffins and buried underground in concrete vaults, which complies with all of the state and local laws.”
On some of the residents’ fear of a Muslim indoctrination:
“Farmersville is a relatively rural area, and though the county does have a large and growing Muslim population in Farmersville … there isn’t a large Muslim community. The Islamic Center spokesperson said that a lot of [the fear] has to do with misunderstandings about what exactly is going to happen at the site. … There is only going to be a burial ground.”