Ken Kalthoff, NBC 5 News
The offer of land in Sudan helped attract a large crowd, which in turn attracted action by Irving Code Enforcement officials.
Irving officials intervened when an email advertising land in Sudan attracted a large crowd on Friday at the office of a Sudanese American Association.
Help with passports, visas and applications for land in Sudan were advertised in an Arabic e-mail circulated in advance of the gathering at the office in the Conflans Business Park near Belt Line Road.
Irving Code Enforcement Director Teresa Adrian visited the meeting in person after receiving complaints about the size of the crowd.
“The concern was to go out there and investigate the safety and health concerns and that’s what we did,” Adrian said.
The organization has an Irving Certificate of Occupancy for a business office with a maximum of 50 people but Adrian said she found around three times that many at the location.
Adrian said the group agreed to never host so large a gathering at the location again.
“We also went out there and inspected the location today and have given them some guidance on items they need to correct that were in violation of our building code,” she said Monday.
The other violations involved an electrical issue and wall hangings forbidden by city code.
Neighbors said the group often draws large crowds at regular Saturday gatherings but Friday’s was the largest.
Local critics of the Sudanese government question the land offering at the meeting and other issues surrounding the association and it’s office.
Irving Sufi religious leader Mohamed Al-Hassan, once a candidate for President of Sudan, also attended the meeting Friday to confront the government representatives about their appeal to local Sudanese people.
“They invited them into this place here to sell the land to these people, misleading them,” he said.
His brother, Izzaldin Al-Hassan Mohamed, is a former officer of the local Association.
Izzaldin Al-Hassan said he stepped down over disputes about the organization’s finances and the small office, which he said the group intended to use as a community center.
“I just wanted them to move it to another place, a good place, that way we be proud of it,” he said.
The brothers believe money raised by the Sudanese government is misused.
A current officer of the Irving Sudanese American Association said the meeting was a community service.
Hishan Awadelkariem said Friday’s event was the fourth recent visit by officials of the Sudanese government, but the first to include land applications. No money was actually exchanged at the meeting for land.
Awadelkariem said he helped negotiate the current business park lease after the group decided it was paying too much for a larger location. The group will now consider a larger place after the lease ends in about a year.
“Their CO is for a warehouse and office and that allows for 50 people to be in there at any given time and so they just made a mistake in using this property in the way they did,” Adrian said.