By Michael Spragins, Stafford County Democratic Committee Issues Committee Chair
When the Department of Justice, the Free-Lance Star editorial page and the Washington Post editorial page all agree that the Stafford County Board of Supervisors acted improperly, then you know something awfully bad must be afoot. And it is. The facts of what happened are clear and uncontested. The All Muslim Association bought 29 acres off Garrisonville Road in 2016 to be used as a Muslim cemetery. They were assured at the time of purchase by the county that there would be no problem with having a cemetery at that location. Until Crystal Vanuch became involved.
Vanuch, who was a county planning commissioner at the time, lived across the street. She complained to Wendy Mauer, the Board Supervisor in Vanuch’s district. After investigation, the County concluded that a 100-foot separation between the cemetery and water sources was necessary. However, the Board of Supervisors, knowing that the land was to be used as a Muslim cemetery, recommended a 900-foot separation. That effectively blocked the entire parcel from being used as a cemetery. The declaration of a 900-foot separation was entirely arbitrary and evidently was for the sole purpose of keeping the property from being used by the Muslim group. Additionally, Wendy Mauer did not inform the full Board that the County planners only recommended a 100-foot separation.
This entire process smacks of Islamophobia and hypocrisy. The DOJ lawsuit charges a civil rights and constitutional rights violation, and for once the DOJ is absolutely correct. The Stafford Board of Supervisors was made up entirely of Republicans in 2016 and they have shown their true colors with regard to religious discrimination. Republicans do not want a Muslim cemetery in their area simply because the people involved are Muslim. Additionally, they are being hypocritical on the issue of religious freedom. Republicans constantly complain that the expression of religion is being harmed by government action. Well, they fully agree to practice governmental discrimination against Muslims.
The Stafford Board of Supervisor should immediately remedy this injustice and allow the land to be used as a Muslim cemetery.
This is a post by a member of the Stafford County Democratic Committee. This post does not necessarily reflect the views of the Stafford County Democratic Committee, the Democratic Party of Virginia, or the Democratic Party of America.