Press Releases

CAIR Welcomes Temporary Halt to Sale of Historic African-American Burial Ground in Maryland

(BALTIMORE, MD, 9/5/21) – The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed a judge’s order to temporarily halt the sale of the historic Moses Macedonia African Cemetery in Bethesda, Md., until further deliberation on the sale in September.

On Wednesday, Montgomery County Judge Karla Smith issued a temporary restraining order resulting from a lawsuit filed by descendants of the hundreds of those buried in the cemetery, which holds the graves of enslaved and formerly-enslaved people.

SEE: Maryland judge temporarily blocks sale of property atop ancient African-American burial ground

In July 2020, 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 be halted at the site.

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

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

“We welcome the temporary halt to the desecration of this historic burial ground and hope the decision is made permanent,” said Director of CAIR’s office in Maryland Zainab Chaudry. “

She noted that also in 2020, 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

Chaudry said CAIR is supporting the effort to protect similar burial grounds in Virginia.

Video: CAIR Supports Protection for Historic Va. African-American, Native American Cemeteries – YouTube

BACKGROUND: 

A self-storage company has been allowed to initiate construction in Bethesda, Md., 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 on 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 enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, 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.    

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CONTACT: CAIR Office in Maryland Director Zainab Chaudry, zchaudry@cair.com, 410-971-6062; CAIR Government Affairs Director Robert McCaw, 202-742-6448, rmccaw@cair.com; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, ihooper@cair.com

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