Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008

Open Forum: My opposition is not about religion

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To anyone who would like to put a convention center in the center of a rural town I say, ‘‘No, Thank you!”

I live in Walkersville, and I have not only been ‘‘loosely following” the bid of the Moxley property, but actively attending the meetings and obtaining firsthand information to make an informed decision as to whether or not this would be in the best interest of Walkersville.

I take offense to people outside our community passing judgment on the residents of Walkersville when they are only ‘‘loosely following the dilemma the Muslims are facing in Walkersville,” as quoted from a letter to the editor in The Gazette on Jan. 17.

Many have taken one quote from Steven Berryman and labeled all residents of Walkersville with that opinion. I speak only for myself when I say, ‘‘If the Muslim community would like to purchase 3-5 acres of land and build a mosque on it in Walkersville for the families that are already apart of this community to worship in, that would be great.”

That is freedom of religion. A convention center inviting 10,000 people to attend a three-day retreat in Walkersville is not about religion.

I wouldn't want 10,000 Christians, Jews, or Scientologists coming to Walkersville all at once for a retreat. That is why it's not about religion.

The Walkersville carnival is constantly being compared to the three-day Jalsa Salana.

Here are the numbers: Walkersville carnival, seven days, 4,000 people; Jalsa Salana, three days, 10,000 people. You do the math.

There is never at any time during the seven-day carnival when 10,000 people on the carnival grounds at one time. There are never 10,000 people trying to arrive or leave at the same time.

The Walkersville carnival generates income and revenue for the Walkersville Fire Company and the Town of Walkersville.

Neither the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, Mr. Moxley, or Mr. Hayes have been able to tell the Citizens of Walkersville what benefit, generation of revenue, or income a convention center will do for the Town of Walkersville and its residents.

Once again I say, ‘‘No, thank you!”

Monica MacCracken, Walkersville