Between 150 and 200 people assisted at the inauguration of the Barthou cemetery, the new cemetery of Vandœuvre-lès-Nancy. The new cemetery contains a section of plots for Muslims that is over 2,000 m². The new burial plot is the result of “a long process,” according to Saïd Derbani, President of the Association of Muslims of Lorraine (AML), that, for ten years, has supported the project. While the city’s primary cemetery has a section of plots for Muslims, it has been full for many years.
The cemetery is responding to a “real need,” stated Derbani. He explained that in recent years there has been a shift from believers wanting to be buried in their home countries, to a new generation that wishes to be buried in France. “A 90 year-old woman who converted [to Islam] would ask me every time she saw me where she would be buried,” he said. As a result the new section is a source of “relief” for many.
“Integration takes place during active life. But also in the ground,” Derbani contended. “According to the Ministry of the Interior’s statistics, between 75% and 80% of Muslims who died in France are repatriated to their home countries to be buried. But it is clear that the number of those wishing to be buried in France has not stopped growing, notably within the new generations.
“It is more normal for citizens who have spent the majority of their life on French soil and for their children who have only known the homeland of France,” declared Amine Nedji, president of the Lorraine Regional Council of the Muslim Faith.
There are more than 200 Muslim plots in France. However, “This number is less than the growing need. It’s often due to the lack of political willingness that the memorandum is not found in certain towns. This is due to two reasons: certain politicians have a truncated and biased reading of the principle of secularism…Others simply prefer simply to close the discussion on the subject,” said Nedji.
The need is growing as there are estimated to be over five million Muslims living in France.