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CAIR Testifies Before Planning Board Urging Building Moratorium at Historic African Burial Ground in Maryland

(BALTIMORE, MD, 7/23/20) – Earlier today, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) joined Macedonia Baptist Church and members of the Bethesda African Cemetery Coalition to testify before the Montgomery County Planning Board strongly urging that construction of a self-storage facility be halted immediately at the historic site of Moses African Cemetery in Bethesda, Maryland.  

WATCH TESTIMONY: https://youtu.be/WRr5KQWfanE

SEE: Residents Protest Development on Historic Black Cemetery in Bethesda 

“CAIR is supporting this effort because burial grounds are sacred regardless of the race or religion of people buried there,” said CAIR’s Interfaith Engagement intern in Maryland Hamza Ewing, who represented CAIR at the public hearing. “We stand with the Macedonia Baptist Church in calling for a halt to construction at Moses Cemetery and urge that a proper investigation of the site be allowed to take place.”

“The Montgomery County Planning Board has an obligation to enact justice for the descendants of African-Americans buried on this land,” said Director of CAIR’s office in Maryland Zainab Chaudry. “We expect the board to take into consideration the testimonies of all the witnesses including interfaith leaders, anthropologists, educators and residents, and make the right decision.”

Earlier this month, CAIR helped coordinate a news conference at the site of the burial grounds 

SEE: CAIR to Join Macedonia Baptist Church, Community Partners in Calling for Building Moratorium at Historic African Burial Ground in Maryland

Call to halt Bethesda construction atop historic African cemetery

BACKGROUND: 

A self-storage company has been allowed to initiate construction in Bethesda, Maryland on top of a historic burial ground where bodies of enslaved Africans, the first generation of freed enslaved Africans in Bethesda, and their descendants have been interned. Communities of faith are calling on the Montgomery County government to immediately place a building moratorium on Bethesda Self Storage company to halt construction, and to allow renowned anthropologist Dr. Michael Blakey, who is an expert on African Burial sites, to lead a forensic analysis of Moses Cemetery. Dr. Michael Blakey has concluded based upon his examination of photographs that there is a possibility of human remains and funerary objects being disturbed by the digging operation. 

CAIR’s mission is to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.

END

CONTACT: CAIR Office in Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry,  zchaudry@cair.com, 410-971-6062

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