Update 1/17/08: The final night of hearings was last night and the final decision is weeks away according to this report in the Frederick News Post.
Update 1/16/08: The hearings continued yet another evening with cross-examinations and wrap-up statements. Here is what the owner of the property said:
He closed his presentation by saying he believes the real reason some people do not want Ahmadiyya to buy the land is because they do not want the group to have a large voting block in Walkersville.
See the full account here.
Update 1/15/08: Citizens unanimously opposed the AMC request for re-zoning in hearings that continued last evening reported here in the Frederick News Post. Also, see commentary we posted on yesterday here.
Update 1/12/08: Here is the latest, it must have gotten interesting, especially see the discussion about a film from an AMC “convention” in Great Britain. Be sure to read the comments too.
Update 1/10/08: Hundreds packed the Walkersville Town Hall last night according to the Frederick News Post to listen to testimony on the second night of 4 scheduled hearings on this project. A land planning expert testifying on behalf of the Citizens for Walkersville said that 20,000 Ahmadyyia attended a similar gathering as the one planned for Walkersville in Canada in 2007, raising the spectre that more than the projected 5000 could ultimately attend the Walkersville event.
Update 1/9/08: You can read about the first night of hearings in the Frederick News Post today. One thing not mentioned in this article is that an attorney for the Muslim sect attempted to discuss “religious rumblings” as part of the group’s testimony but was told by the Zoning Board that he was not permitted to do that.
Although this isn’t about refugees per se, it does follow on the theme of recent days and that is Muslim immigrants seeking to set themselves apart and in this case by creating a compound for religious activity. Residents of small towns such as Walkersville, MD are spooked by this and citizens are organizing in hopes of defeating a 200 plus acre facility adjacent to town.
Judy and I attended an early public meeting and citizens who spoke up indicated they didn’t care if it was a Muslim project or a Catholic project; re-zoning agricultural land for a religious facility of this size would hurt the quiet character of this little town they told a standing room only crowd. However, in a recent radio program to discuss this Pakastani sect of Islam, leaders of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community did not distance themselves from precepts of Sharia law. So, I (Islamophobe that I am!) would be more than a little nervous about what plans were in place for a closed facility, although the citizens organizing against the rezoning are more concerned with the quality of life, crowded roads and increased demands for services.
To learn more go here. And, check out the Citizens for Walkersville website here. The public hearing will begin on Jan. 8, 2008 at 7 p.m. and run till 10 p.m., and then continue for several more nights due to an anticipated large number of people who might wish to be heard.