In response to increased claims since the Paris terrorist attacks about an alleged “terrorist training camp” at York County’s Holy Islamville, U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney on Tuesday went to the Muslim community to see for himself.
What he found was pretty simple.
“There is no training camp there,” said Mulvaney, R-Indian Land, after the 90-minute visit with Islamville leaders and residents. “This is a group of law-abiding American citizens who are practicing their faith, and I saw no reason for anyone to see a threat.”
The visit was Mulvaney’s first since he was first elected in 2010 to represent the Fifth Congressional District, which includes York County.
Mulvaney has heard complaints about Islamville for years, but he always had been reassured by York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant and federal officials that Islamville and its residents posed no threat to anyone.
After the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, though, Mulvaney said the rhetoric about Islamville – largely on social media – “spiked again,” so he decided it was time for a visit.
Bryant, who has known Islamville residents for 25 years and has repeatedly vowed to protect them from being targeted, joined Mulvaney on the visit.
“I would encourage any elected official who is hearing these same untrue things about Islamville and the people who live there to ask about visiting and see for themselves,” Bryant said.
About 200 people from 20 families have lived in the rural community outside York for three decades. Islamville’s residents are American-born and work in blue- and white-collar jobs, including in health care and education.
That hasn’t stopped people and some media outlets over the years from trying to paint Islamville as populated with evil Muslims who hate America. False claims of terrorist training activity there have found a home on the Internet and in social media.
So anytime there is a terrorist attack in the world, wild allegations about Islamville resurface.
Islamville leader Ramadan Sayeed Shakir said he was “very pleased” with the candid discussions he and other residents had with Mulvaney on Tuesday.
“We are heavily ingrained in this community and have been for decades,” Shakir said. “We appreciate that he came here and saw for himself. He represents us just as he represents all people in his district.
“Now he can tell people at these town hall meetings what he saw and who we are.”
Earlier this year, a teen Muslim of Syrian heritage from York was sent to prison after admitting he wanted to join ISIS. The boy had no affiliation with Islamville.
Islamville residents explained to Mulvaney personally that all people there denounce the Islamic State and any group that employs violence.
“We do not recognize ISIS as even being Muslim,” Shakir said. “They are terrorists.”
With several online and in-person town halls scheduled for communities within the Fifth District in coming weeks, Mulvaney said, he is “looking forward to dispelling the rumors” about Islamville.
“I can tell people now I have been there, and no, there is not a terrorist camp or any threat in York County.”
Andrew Dys: 803-329-4065