Examination into the importance of Muslim cemeteries in France

In this opinion piece, Atmane Aggoun, sociologist and CNRS researcher, points to the important issue of Muslim cemeteries in France, particularly as the immigrant Muslim population grows older. Fewer Muslims in France seek to be buried in their countries of origin. There are some spaces available at the Thiais cemetery (in Val-de-Marne) outside of Paris. Aggoun claims we might be witnesses a strong sense of integration as more immigrants choose to be buried in France, even if it happens underground.

Eight Muslim tombs vandalized in Normandy region of France

Eight Muslim tombs within the municipal cemetery of La Manche were desecrated October 22. The tombs were located in Montjoie-Saint-Martin, Normandy and covered with Nazi-related symbols. All eight tombs were of Moroccan soldiers who died in service of France during the Second World War.

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.

Largest Muslim Cemetery in Ontario to Open

The largest Muslim cemetery in Ontario, and one of the biggest in Canada, is about to open near Manotick. It will accommodate about 10,000 graves, says Abu Nazir, president of the Ottawa Muslim Cemetery. There is a small Shia cemetery near Toronto, of less than half a hectare, as well as a larger cemetery serving the general Muslim population in Montreal. The Manotick site will serve all Muslims. Trees are being cleared now for roads, culverts, and some landscaping. Burials could begin as early as this autumn.

Nazir’s group has been working towards this for more than 15 years, looking at about 160 sites. In 2004, it paid $185,000 for a 12-hectare plot at 1668 Manotick Station Road. The group has spent the last five years getting approvals from the city, the province and the medical officer of health. Nazir estimates there are about 100 to 200 deaths a year among the city’s community of about 65,000 Muslims. He believes this cemetery should last at least 60 to 70 years. The group will likely prepare the land in five stages of 2,000 plots each.

Vitoria Considers Building Muslim Cemetery

The municipality of Vitoria is to consider the construction of a cemetery to suit the needs of its Muslim population, The city will meet this fall with representatives from its five mosques and the Islamic Communities Union in the Basque Country to negotiate the project, whose initial discussions date to the late 1990s when the Vitorian Mayor’s office destined 1,000 square meters in El Salvador for this use. The recent inauguration of a Muslim cemetery in Derio (opened in Oct, 2008 inside the Christian cemetery already built) seems to have provided new support to the project, explains Union President Ahmed El Hanafy.

The new cemetery would allow the believers to save the huge costs of sending the corpses back to their countries of origin. “We are not speaking about immigrants, but of the new generations, of Vitorian Muslims who want to be buried according to Islamic rituals“, says El Hanafy.

Muslim Cemetery in Amsterdam On Hold

Construction of a Muslim cemetery in Amsterdam is on hold for the time being due to the costs, ND reports. Three years ago the city of Amsterdam set aside 416,000 euro for a Muslim cemetery to be placed in the Nieuwe Ooster cemetery. Although the process included much deliberation with the Islamic community, a committee reached an agreement in which the municipality and the Nieuwe Ooster cemetery itself contributed to the project. Construction was supposed to start last spring but has been put on hold due to the cost. When the project goes through, the cemetery would serve for at least twenty years, since most of the deceased Turks and Moroccans are buried in their homeland.

Austria´s first Islamic cemetery opens for business

Austria’s first ever Islamic cemetery will see its first burial tomorrow (Fri). Omar Al-Rawi, a Social Democrat (SPÖ) municipal councillor and the person responsible for integration at the Islamic Believers Denomination (IG), said today the first body to be buried there would be that of a Moroccan who at worked for the UN in Vienna and died of illness. The service will take place after the daily prayers at the site in southern Vienna. Al-Rawi said the cemetery was available to every Muslim who died and parcels of land in it would be not sold or reserved for anyone. The cemetery would be open to all who wanted to visit it, just like any other, he added. Al-Rawi said the first bodies to be buried in the cemetery would be placed deep into the ground to allow the stacking of corpses in order to accommodate a maximum number of bodies, which he estimated to be 4,000.

The cemetery has a long history. The first discussions between IG and the city government about an Islamic cemetery started some 20 years ago and finally led to acceptance of a plan by both sides in 2001, when it was hoped the cemetery would be able to open in 2003. In the interim, archaeologists would conduct excavations on the 3.4 hectares of land in question.

Muslim graves defaced after far-right election win

Over 90 Muslim graves were desecrated on Sunday in the central Austrian town of Traun, near Linz, close to the Czech border. The gravestones were knocked over and in certain cases painted with black spray paint, Austrian security authorities said in a statement. Jewish symbols such as the star of David were also painted on the graves, as well as “Menorah” or Jewish candelabra. Austrian authorities suspect right-wing extremist neo-Nazis were responsible for the violence. The cemetery’s undertaker said a sticker of a right-wing organisation was removed from the entrance of the cemetery last week. The incident took place the same day as two far-right political parties made substantial gains in Austria’s parliamentary election. At the weekend the far-right Freedom Party and the New Alliance for the Future of Austria received a combined 29.1 percent of the vote. The Social Democrats won the polls with 30 percent but they and the conservative People’s Party suffered their worst results since 1945.

Muslim graves desecrated as Austria swings to the right

Police are blaming far-Right extremists for desecrating a Muslim cemetery in Austria, in the same weekend that the political parties of the far-Right made huge gains in the country’s general election. More than 90 graves were severely damaged at the cemetery in Traun, near Linz, some time between Friday night and this morning, in what police believe was an organised action. The offenders sprayed Jewish symbols such as the Star of David over some of the graves, but detectives believe that this may have been a bid to disguise the motives of extremists driven by a hatred of Muslim immigrants. It is not clear whether the incident was in any way related to the elections. A spokesman for the local Islamic Community said that they were deeply shocked at the news of the desecration, which comes as the Muslim religious month of Ramadan nears its end. Austria is meanwhile embarking on a round of soul-searching following its swing to the right in yesterday’s parliamentary elections. The two far-Right parties that captured almost 30 percent of the vote, the Freedom Party and the Alliance for the Future of Austria, have campaigned on an vehemently anti-immigration ticket and some of their slogans were deemed xenophobic by critics. Bojan Pancevski reports.

Mourners gather for teen funeral

Hundreds of mourners gathered at a Liverpool mosque to bid farewell to a Somalian teenager killed in a park last week. In an emotional service community leaders once again urged calm and restraint in the wake of Ahmed Mohamed Ibrahim’s murder. The 17-year-old was battered to death in Sefton Park in March. Huge crowds turned out from Liverpool’s L8 Toxteth and Granby areas to pay their respects to the student. Many Somalians used the occasion to complete their Friday prayers and mourn the death of one of their own. After the service mourners went to Everton cemetery where Ahmed was buried in a Muslim ritual with family and friends using shovels to place the coffin underground.http://themuslimweekly.com/newsdetails/fullstoryview.aspx?NewsID=ADD53DE67FE5DC899BA99B95&MENUID=HOMENEWS&DESCRIPTION=UK%20