The Globe and Mail – June 21, 2012
After years of planning and work, developers in two cities are set to meet a burgeoning need by opening two cemeteries – the Toronto Muslim Cemetery and the Ottawa Muslim Cemetery. While there are currently five Muslim cemeteries in Ontario, as well as a few others scattered across the country, the new additions are the first to cater to Muslims in Canada’s largest city and its capital. According to the Pew Research Center, the number of Muslims in Canada is expected to almost triple over the next 20 years, from about 940,000 in 2010 to nearly 2.7-million in 2030.
Work on the Ottawa Muslim Cemetery began in the early 1990s when Abu Nazir, now the president of the group behind the project, started talking with the community about the need. Until that point, most of the Muslim community had been focused on establishing itself by building mosques and schools, he said.
The Toronto Muslim Cemetery, located just north of the city in Richmond Hill, is bigger than its Ottawa counterpart – a $10-million partnership between the area’s Sunni and Shia communities with a capacity of about 40,000 graves. Close to 5,000 plots have been pre-sold, according to Sabi Ahsan, a local developer and chairman of the cemetery’s board.
News Agencies – March 7, 2012
The province of Ontario has granted a license to the Toronto Muslim Cemetery
Corporation, allowing it to operate the site in Richmond Hill. The corporation says the
cemetery is a joint project between Sunni and Shia Muslim communities and will open in
June. The group plans to open the 14-hectare cemetery officially in June. It’s expected to
serve the needs of the estimated 300,000-strong Muslim community for at least 25 years.
He says the cemetery will be the first in the area which manages services according to
Muslim custom, operates on weekends and will have all graves correctly aligned toward
The 14-hectare land for the cemetery was bought for $6.8-million from a Jewish
company – Beth Olam Cemetery Corporation – which provided the Muslim corporation
with an interest-free mortgage. A Muslim cemetery to meet the needs of residents in
Ottawa and Gatineau, Que, is expected to open in June as well.
November 1-9, 2010
Following Bern, Lucerne and Zurich, the city of Winterthur will soon become the latest Swiss city to have a Muslim section in the local cemetery. The project has been planned since 2008, and following a unanimous vote in the city council it will also receive a loan of 1.53 million Swiss francs. If, as expected, the project passes the communal council, Muslim burials could begin as soon as 2011.
12 per cent of the population of Winterthur is Muslim, and the new 380 graves were supported by all except one member of the Christian Democrats (CVP) who argued that it would symbolize yet another form of separation. Nevertheless, even the far-right Swiss People’s Party came out in support of the project, stating that “we don’t always have to be against everything.”
The municipal council of Strasboug recently adopted the notion of a public cemetery for local Muslims. It will be open in 2011 in the Meinau neighborhood.
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.
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.
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.