The National – August 17, 2012
Francois Hollande‘s new socialist government shows early signs of being less tolerant towards France’s large Muslim community than the previous centre-right administration of Nicolas Sarkozy, according to the co-founder of a body promoting the interests of Arabian Gulf and African nations. The charge is at first glance surprising given the lengths to which Mr Sarkozy went, in vain, to lure voters in the May presidential election from the far-right, anti-immigration Front National.
But Yana Korobko, secretary of the Paris-based Observatory of the Black, Gulf and Mediterranean Seas (OBGMS), said Mr Hollande’s positions were “unusually firm for a leftist in France”.
“The question of new mosques construction remains undecided because of the firm unwillingness of the Europeans to accept another culture on their territory, especially in such large numbers,” Ms Korobko said. “It is mainly caused by the historic, social and psychological specificities of the Europeans, and the French people in particular.”
She is not alone in being concerned about the outlook of the left as a whole. As if to prove her point that there is no clear-cut distinction between the main strands of French politics, a centre-right local administration in the southern town of Saint-Esteve ruled this week that no separate space could be found in the municipal cemetery for Muslims.
The Islamic community in the city of Santiago de Compostela is composed of approximately 2,000 people, but currently the city doesn’t have a place for Islamic burial rituals. The cost of a funeral in Spain is about 2,500 Euros, a cheaper price compared with the cost of the repatriation of a body (estimated between 6,000 and 8,000 Euros). The Muslim community of Santiago, taking advantage of the planned enlargement of the municipal cemetery, is claiming the building of a space reserved for Islamic burials in the municipal cemetery. At the moment, the council of the city hasn’t declared their position on this question.
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.
An agreement between the city administration and the Islamic Community of Alicante as attributed a sector of the local cemetery to the Muslim population. The creation of the new sector is inserted in the General Plan of Urban Ordination and will respect part of the particular rituals of a Muslim burial.