Friday, September 02, 2016

Rural town refuses to allow Muslim burial ground

A proposed Muslim burial ground in rural Dudley, Mass., has drawn the ire of locals, Jess Bidgood reports for The New York Times. The burial ground, planned for 50 acres of unused farmland, "was denounced at meetings and ultimately turned down by the Zoning Board of Appeals, prompting charges of bigotry and drawing scrutiny from the United States attorney for Massachusetts, who announced a civil-rights investigation on Aug. 18 into the town’s actions." Similar scenes have played out in other areas, most recently over a proposed mosque in Covington, Ga.

Officials in the town of 11,500—95 percent of residents are white—deny any wrongdoing, Bidgood writes. They say "they have been unfairly portrayed as biased against the Muslims, and say the society did not have standing to seek a permit for the cemetery because of a provision giving the town the right of first refusal for the tract, which belongs to a private landowner."

The Muslim group "says it would most likely bury 10 to 15 people a year (although an early estimate mentioned 16,000 plots) and has agreed to comply with applicable burial regulations and to accommodate some of the town’s concerns, like using only a small part of the land for the cemetery," Bidgood writes. "But at a meeting in June, the Zoning Board refused to grant the group a permit, saying that the town had a right of first refusal on the land, which had once been used for agriculture, and that proper procedure for the sale had not been followed." (Read more)

No comments: