France inaugurates first official Muslim cemetery

News Agencies – February 6, 2012

France inaugurated its first municipal Muslim cemetery in the city of Strasbourg, a move hailed by Islamic leaders as a step in recognizing one of the country’s largest minority groups. Local officials and Muslim leaders attended a ceremony in the northeastern French city to launch the cemetery, which has space for about 1,000 graves. Mohammed Moussaoui, the head of the French Council of the Muslim Faith, hailed the cemetery’s opening as a “historic” moment for Muslims in France and said it was “an important symbol of belonging” for the community.

“If a religious community is to feel entirely at home in a city, it must be helped in building places for worship and for the burial of its believers,” said Strasbourg Mayor Roland Ries. France’s 1905 law on the separation of church and state forbids the building of municipal cemeteries restricted to only one religion. But the Alsace-Moselle region, which includes Strasbourg, operates under different basic laws dating from its reversion from German to French control after World War I.