Backlash greets plans for Muslim cemeteries across US

(AP) — On the site of a long-idle dairy farm, leaders of a local mosque hope to build a final resting place for about 500 Muslim families — to the dismay of many residents of this quaint town in central Massachusetts. In arguments cemetery developers and activists decry as thinly veiled bigotry, neighbors say they fear burial practices could contaminate groundwater because Muslims traditionally do not embalm bodies and bury their dead without coffins. Similar sentiments have been expressed by people in communities around the country where Muslim cemeteries have been proposed, including Farmervsille, Texas; Walpole, Massachusetts; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Farmington, Minnesota. In some cases, opponents have succeeded in defeating the new cemetery projects, while in others, Muslim groups have appealed and judges have cleared the way. City leaders were so bombarded with complaints that they published an informational guide on the city’s website, assuring residents that there is “no training facility planned for this site … no terrorist activity associated with this site … no plans for a mosque at this site.” Diane Piwko, a Farmersville resident and business owner, said she worries the cemetery — proposed for prime property overlooking a lake — won’t be maintained and will become an eyesore at the entrance to the city. Douglas Cwienk, a hydrogeologist who testified for the Muslim group proposing the Pennsylvania cemetery, said that Muslim burial practices are unlikely to contaminate wells or groundwater, and that not embalming is better for local groundwater in most cases. In Dudley, Muslim leaders have agreed to bury bodies in coffins or concrete vaults to appease residents on contamination concerns.

Source: Backlash greets plans for Muslim cemeteries across US

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