Muslim sect causes stir in Walkersville

August 30, 2007 vi Ummah Links

Group buying farm for retreat; town considers zoning change

This small town of shady porches and green fields saw its last murder in 1929. The mayor runs a feed and seed store, where on Monday nights he presides over a long-running dominoes game. Many people live here because their parents and grandparents lived here before them.

And they like things the way they are.

So, a Muslim group's plan to purchase 224 acres of farmland to use for an annual convention and other activities has created a stir - one of the biggest in decades ...

"People are very unrested," said Ralph Whitmore, the town burgess, or mayor. "People in Walkersville, and I include myself, we know what a great place it is to live and raise families and are always concerned about things that might change our quality of life." ...

Though they consider themselves Muslims, they have been barred from practicing their religion in Pakistan. About 15,000 Ahmadis live in the United States ...

"There are people who are concerned because of who they are. There's no two ways about it. Our relationship with the Muslim community is a little tender," said Whitmore, sitting in his feed and seed shop, surrounded by crushed cigarettes, a sleeping cat and a couple of pals who had gathered to chew the fat one recent afternoon.

A convention of thousands is a lot for a "backwater" town to handle, he said, but the stir is about more than that.

"It's a different culture moving into town," Whitmore said, "a culture we're not used to."