Mary Katharine Ham

Take a good, old-fashioned property dispute, add Muslim sensitivity and a hearty helping of country-fried dispute settlement, and you'll get this:

While Muslim faithful are worshiping Allah, sounds of liquored up Texans chasing greased pigs may soon be heard outside the mosque.

"Comin' soon weekly Friday night pig racin'" reads the sign in the Houston suburb of Katy. It goes on to promote a greased pig-catching contest, the opportunity to purchase a slow pig to save its life and--of all things--a pork cook-off. Bring your own bottle, the sign also says and boasts the availability of "clean port-o-pots."

It sounds like a rowdy Friday night outing, Texas style.

But the planned pig races are wallowing in controversy. A Muslim group having just purchased adjacent property to build a mosque is not amused by the new sign and upcoming swine activities as neighbors--including parishioners at a nearby church my mother pastors--are left wondering what's going to happen to the neighborhood.

Not far from the large pig racing sign, the other group has a small placard that says "KIA Community Center coming soon," I'm told, with the acronym standing for Katy Islamic Association.

First off, this sounds like a great Friday night, period. Second, what prompted the pig races? Turns out they were a retaliatory strike from the proposed mosque's neighbor, rancher Craig Baker:

Craig Baker, a farmer and rancher whose family has worked the land along Baker Road since his great-great grandfather won it in a poker game, says he plans to build a pig racing track next door to the Islamic Association and run races every Friday night.

Baker, who runs a stone fabricating business two doors down, says when his new neighbors came to introduce themselves, they left him with an unfriendly message.

“They told me I needed to think about packing up and moving out,” Baker said.

Mosque spokesman Rauf Diab calls Baker's charges "nonsense."

CAIR is running the story, but has yet to put out a press release. It won't be long, I'm sure.

The Houston Chronicle goes over-the-top sinister, calling the pigs "subtle weapons," but it's got good background on the dispute:

Tension has been growing in this west Harris County community since September when the Muslim group announced it had purchased 11 acres south of Interstate 10 to build a mosque, school, community center and athletic facilities.

Hard feelings started when Baker met association officials, who, he said, advised him he should move his stone shop.

"They told me it was time for my family to pack up," said Baker, whose family has occupied its land since the early 1800s. "They said a mosque and a marble shop didn't go too good together."

Angered by the perceived insult and aware of Islamic dietary laws banning pork consumption, Baker responded by announcing he would stage weekly pig races on his Muslim neighbors' holiest day of prayer.

Since then, the conflict has escalated as residents called a town hall meeting to discuss the planned complex and an anti-mosque page featuring a cartoon pig and a running tally of terrorism victims was posted on the Internet. Numerous complaint calls have been made to county officials.

Claims and counterclaims have flown. Critics raise concerns about traffic congestion, flooding, possible adverse impact on property values and the "unknown."

"One of our concerns is what the mosque will look like," said Karen Olson, president of the 120-family Windsor Park Estates Neighborhood Association. " ... We look at mosques in other parts of town and they have gold domes. They're big white structures that stand out. We're concerned about what we can do as a community to get a development that fits in and doesn't ruin things."

First, anywhere that's small enough to have a town hall meeting is bound to have a town hall meeting to discuss any new, large structure planned for the area. It's not as if the meetings are reserved for mosques. The property-value concerns are legitimate and common, and the traffic and parking concerns come with every church and big-box store construction project.

But do the people of Katy have other, Muslim-specific concerns? Probably. Of course, it's out of bounds for them to even have such concerns. Not to mention dare to speak of them. Not to mention dare to express them in such an uncouth manner as a pig race.

But here's the deal. This is America. We have fights with our neighbors and we have the right to pig-race on our property, barring any farm-animal-related ordinances enacted by the municipality in question. Sometimes our neighbors do things, when pressed, that are meant specifically to tick us off. These disputes can get ugly, and a weekly pig race really ain't all that bad a thing to have next door in the grand scheme of things.

None of us are entitled, whatever religion, to unfailingly nice, respectful neighbors who will refrain from any activity that offends us just because we happen to share a fence. Because that would prevent a whole lot of people from doing a lot of the things they like-- like pig-racin'! And, that's just not the American way.

I would imagine people like Mr. Baker are so sick of watching moderate Muslims stay seated when asked to stand up against radical Islam, and so sick of watching their fellow Americans lay down when confronted with the sensitivities of sharia-observing Muslims, that they figure a good old-fashioned pig race is in order, just to show they're not gonna get pushed around.

And, for those who freak out about Baker's insensitivity-- Dudes, it's a pig race. If only everyone waged such friendly, squealing, moonshine-soaked jihad, the world would be a much better place.

And then, of course, there's the fact that Katy's apprehensions, no matter how indelicately expressed, aren't exactly without basis, are they?

On the same day, five Muslims were convicted in Buffalo of trafficking in untaxed cigarettes in order to get money for jihad. Mohamed Abuhamra, Aref Ahmed, Ramzy Abdullah, Nagib Aziz, and Azzeaz Saleh could get twenty years and $500,000 fines for using the smokes to try to raise money to help the the six jihadists from the Lackawanna, New York mosque — the notorious “Lackawanna Six” journey to Afghanistan to join up with Al-Qaeda...

The Islamic Society of Boston (ISB) is building a new mosque which they intend to be one of the grandest in the country. Arabic-language brochures boast that the project has the backing of the radical Sheikh Yusuf Abdullah al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian now based in Qatar.

Hat tip to Beth.


Mary Katharine Ham

Mary Katharine Ham is editor-at-large of HotAir.com, a contributor to Townhall Magazine.

Be the first to read Mary Katharine Ham's column. Sign up today and receive Townhall.com delivered each morning to your inbox.