By Daniel Lobo (originally posted to Flickr as Mt. Olivet Cemetery) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

By Daniel Lobo (originally posted to Flickr as Mt. Olivet Cemetery) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The Islamic Cultural Center wanted a cemetery, but local residents stopped the plan.

When Alexandre Bissonnette, a resident of Quebec City, shot dead six Muslims outside a mosque in the city in January. Five of the victims were all fresh immigrants to Canada and sent to where they came from for proper burial. The remaining victim was buried at a Muslim cemetery three hours from Montreal. The reason for this long-distance drive simply to bury a body is that the Muslim residents of Quebec City do not have a burial ground of their own despite many years of trying to acquire one. The last attempt was on July 23, when a mini referendum again failed to open a cemetery.

Residents of the Saint-Apollinaire, a town situated about 20 miles away from Quebec City, voted to reject a zoning change application so that the Islamic Cultural Center can open a cemetery. Incidentally, the Islamic Cultural Center owns the mosque where the lethal shooting happened. Voting on the matter was open to only 49 residents who have their homes near the planned cemetery site. Only 36 people cast their votes. Of the total votes, 19 went against, and 16 for the cemetery. One ballot was deemed spoiled.

Mohamed Kesri, the person appointed by Quebec City mosque to be responsible for leading the project was disappointed. The result was a bitter pill to swallow. He lamented that how is it possible that 19 individuals can stymie a project wanted by thousands of people. His disappointment was shared by Mayor Bernard Ouellet of Saint-Apollinaire who said that the disappointing result was plainly due to the effect of “fear and disinformation.”

The Muslim cemetery project was favored by Cardinal Gerald Cyprien Lacroix, the archbishop of Quebec City. He requested voters to permit Muslims their own cemetery as respect to other religions. Saint-Apollinaire is mostly French-speaking, white and Catholic with no Muslim, Hindu, Sikh or Jewish residents.

Opponents of the Muslim cemetery project have expressed their concerns. They are afraid once the Muslims get a cemetery, they will demand a mosque and then their own school. One resident of the area, who opposed the cemetery plan, voiced the opinion of the majority saying they are “already feeling invaded.”

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