Hatred, bigotry, prejudice are all bad enough to endure in one’s life, but for the Stafford County, Virginia Muslim community, the abuse extends beyond the grave.
In an embarrassingly transparent bid to block the All Muslim Association of America (AMAA) from carrying out its approved plans for a cemetery for Muslims of limited means, the County pushed through an arbitrary 11th-hour law banning all cemeteries within 900 feet of a privately owned well for drinking water. (The state standard mandates a separation of a more-than-adequate 100 feet.)
Most appalling of all, the new law was spawned from pressure brought on the County by two individuals who owned property abutting the proposed cemetery, one of whom is a member of the County’s own Planning Commission.
In an embarrassingly transparent bid to block the All Muslim Association of America from carrying out its approved plans, the County pushed through an arbitrary 11th-hour law.
The AMAA, who had already long since received assurances from Stafford County that a cemetery could be built there “by right,” with no special zoning approval, had purchased the tract of land and moved forward without an inkling of the County’s petty bait and switch.
Why? Because the fact of this new law being passed and the need to inform the Muslim community that it therefore no longer had a cemetery had mysteriously slipped the County’s mind.
At length the County did remember itself and informed its Muslim community: “By the way, you can’t put your cemetery here, after all.”
The AMAA was shocked.
Years passed—expensive years for the taxpayers of Stafford County, who were stuck with the legal expenses, not just for the lawsuit brought against them by the AMAA representing the Muslim community, but by a federal lawsuit by the United States of America, which states in part: “The United States of America brings this civil action against Stafford County, Virginia (“County” or “Defendant”), for imposing restrictive zoning requirements that preclude the All Muslim Association of America (“All Muslim Association”) from establishing an Islamic cemetery on land it owns, thereby impeding its religious practice of providing low-cost burial services to persons of the Islamic faith. The County’s actions constitute a substantial burden on the free exercise of the religion of the All Muslim Association, in violation of the Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act of 2000.”
The Muslim community of Stafford County, Virginia, having been found in the right in the federal lawsuit, and having won its own lawsuit against the County, now as of September of this year, has its cemetery.
In all, Stafford County spent five years and $900,000—$400,000 in court costs and $500,000 in a settlement to the AMAA.
Such is the price of bigotry, an attitude and practice so stupid and wrong it should have been buried eons ago.
It is not too late to bury it now, quickly and unceremoniously—within 900 feet of a privately owned well for drinking water.