Muslim Communities Fight Cemetery Backlash With Mixed Results

By Sameer Rao Apr 26, 2016

Muslim communities across the country often encounter resistance to construction for new cemeteries. A new story from The Associated Press (AP) documents how communities in four municipalities engaged that resistance, with mixed results. 

According to the AP article, in the featured cities—Farmervsille, Texas; Walpole, Massachusetts; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Farmington, Minnesota—obstruction often accompanies local mosques’ attempts to secure permits for cemetery construction. Opponents’ justifcations range from supposedly environmental ("It’s farmland, and I’d like to see it stay that way,") to overtly Islamophobic ("People don’t trust Muslims. Their goal is to populate the United States and take it over."). Some raised concerns about Muslims not embalming their dead before burial, which they say could contaminate the water supply. But a hydrogeologist, testifying on behalf of the Bosniak Islamic Cultural Center of Carlisle, said that "Muslim burial practices are unlikely to contaminate wells or groundwater, and that not embalming is better for local groundwater in most cases."

Legal action, supplemented by public input, determined the relative sucess or failure for cemetery proponents. Judges recently overturned local boards’ rejections of plots in Carlisle and Farmington.

Read the story in full here.