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These pigs are subtle weapons, here to show the new neighbors — the Katy Islamic Association — they aren't entirely welcome. 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."
Feroze said Muslims expected some backlash when they purchased the site, but were surprised at its intensity. He denied that his group's officers had asked Baker to move.
Feroze said the complex will be built to serve 150 to 200 Muslim families in western Harris County. The mosque will be the first structure to be built, but the entire complex, including athletic facilities, should be finished in about five years.
"Right now," he said, "we're just trying to pay the property off."
Feroze said Baker's planned pig racing "makes me mad, but I'm bigger than that."
Association spokesman Yousof Allam said mosque members are puzzled by the opposition they have met.
"We came in with open arms ... ," he said. "There are so many good people in this area, we don't understand why we've gotten this treatment."