The Ahmadiyya Muslim community wanted a place for their elders (from all over the country) to retire in peace. After an exhaustive, nation-wide search, they decided to create a community (open to people of other religions) right here in District 7. Upon meeting some of their community members last year, I learned it was their firm, evidence-based belief, they were being discriminated against. So disappointed, I began advocating with them. Reaching out to a number of our representatives and only hearing back from one, who referred me to his lawyer.
Well, the results are in (“Harford ordered to release permits for houses in Joppatowne subdivision disputed as ‘Muslim community,’” June 23). The federal judge is quoted in this article saying, “the project had received ‘more scrutiny from the county than other projects as a result of the concern and pressure from some county residents because the prospective purchasers were Muslim.'” Fear of the unknown is understandable, but it is my great hope that as a community, here in Harford County, we can move past it. Instead, I hope we choose to be curious and kind.
As a Jewish person, I know what it is to be feared — even hated — for something that is simply a part of me and is of no danger to anyone. It’s a horrible thing I would wish upon no one. I am delighted to see the building of the Muslim-centered community proceeding. (I say “centered,” because they have stated all people meeting the age requirement would be welcome, but — as is the case with developments associated with many other faiths — it is primarily meant for Ahmadiyya Muslim elders.)
In addition to the humanitarian reason of simply being good, welcoming, community members (as any of us would wish for our own families), I would also remind my fellow District 7 residents of the financial ramifications. The federal judge was further quoted in this article noting that “the county will receive thousands of dollars, if not tens of thousands of dollars, in much needed valuable tax revenue, as well as additional law-abiding residents.”
I am thrilled that the development is moving forward and can’t wait to welcome the elders as my neighbors.
Allison Berkowitz, Bel Air
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