First Muslim cemetery opens in Strasbourg, France

News Agencies – January 5, 2012

The first Muslim cemetery will be inaugurated in Strasbourg on February 6, 2012. The cemetery will have place for 1000 graves. It is the first to be established by a French municipality, and was made possible by the special local laws of the region, which do not recognize separation of Church and State. Elsewhere in the country, there are Muslim plots in other cemeteries.

Anne-Pernelle Richardot, deputy mayor of Strasbourg, says that Islam is not a recognized religion, but that they try to bring it up to the same level as the recognized religions, using the local laws. The municipality invested 800,000 Euros in the cemetery. There are eight Muslim plots elsewhere in Strasbourg cemeteries, but they’ve gotten to full capacity in recent years.

Saïd Alla, president of the Grand Mosque of Strasbourg, says that the Muslim community had settled permanently in France and want to bury their relatives at home, not a thousand kilometers away. “It’s the ultimate gesture of good integration, it shows that you belong to the country in which you live.”

Muslim cemetery opens in France

France’s first Muslim cemetery has opened in Strausbourg. Roland Ries, mayor of Strasbourg, will sign the contract for the cemetery with Mohamed Moussaoui, President of the French Council for the Muslim Faith and Driss Ayachour, President of the Regional Council of the Muslim Faith.

In 1973, spaces for those who wished to be buried in the Muslim tradition were created within existing cemeteries in Strausbourg. But as more Muslims migrated to the area, needs outgrew the space.

In 2003 the town’s Conseil of Muslims proposed a plan to create an all-Muslim cemetery, but it was not until summer 2008 when Roland Ries put together a working group that real progress was made to make it happen.

Ries worked together with representatives of Muslim associations in the town: Deputy Mayor Delegate of the civil state Anne-Pernelle Richardot, and Deputy Delegate of Culture Olivier Bitz to create a plan. Eighteen months later, a contract was drawn up and was signed on Wednesday, October 7.

Rules and regulations governing the space are similar to those used for cemeteries of other religions. Care for graves/tombs will rest with the families.