Muslim cemetery sparks row in Texas town

Houston: Residents of a small town in the US state of Texas are seeking to block plans to build an Islamic cemetery over fears that it could be the part of a wider "Muslim takeover", the latest manifestation of anti-Islamic sentiment in the country.

More than 100 residents packed a Farmersville City Council meeting last week to express their concern.

The proposed site in Farmersville, 64 km northeast of Dallas, was put forward by a local Islamic group.

Residents say the cemetery is part of a wider Muslim 'takeover'.

"The concern for us is the radical element of Islam," David Meeks, the pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, told The Dallas Morning News.

Meeks said he thinks the cemetery would be the first step toward a broader Muslim expansion in town.

Critics also have concerns over Muslim burial procedures and fear it could lead to a mosque being built.

The quiet town of 3,000 people is about 25 miles away from where two Islamic extremists were shot dead after attacking a controversial cartoon contest concerning Prophet Mohammed.

The sentiment reflects an anti-Muslim distrust that has been brewing over the last year in parts of Texas.

Alia Salem of the Council on American Islamic Relations of Dallas, tried to dispel locals' concerns. "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."

A final decision whether to press ahead with the scheme will be taken by the Farmersville city council.

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