Whether the Quebec City region will get its first cemetery owned and operated by Muslims will be decided Sunday by 49 people in a referendum.
The land for the cemetery was purchased in February and the project was approved May 1 by the municipal council in the small town of Saint-Apollinaire that has a population of just 6,000 residents.
But an objection was raised and 17 people signed a petition to hold a referendum on the issue. The referendum meant the 49, who would become neighbors of the proposed cemetery, must approve it by a simple majority in Sunday’s vote, Canadian media reported.
The initiative began last October by the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec. But the project gained momentum after six Muslims were killed in January while at prayer in a Quebec City mosque and it was realized the closest Muslim cemetery was 250 kilometers (155 miles) away, north of Montreal.
Sunny Letourneau, head of the group opposing the project, wants the land to become a multi-confessional cemetery – for all faiths – with separate plots for Islamic burials, Canadian media reported.
But a spokesperson for the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, said the organization wanted the security that comes with owning the land.
“When you have land like that you own, families have a plot for eternity, Mohamed Kesri told the Canadian Press.
A cemetery in Quebec City was inaugurated July 9, with more than 500 plots set aside in an existing cemetery for Muslims.
Kesri said, however, the majority of Muslims want to know their loved ones will be buried in a cemetery owned by those of the Islamic faith in perpetuity, with all Islamic rights and customs followed.
[Photo: Quebec city prayers for Muslims killed in Quebec City at Quebeck mosque in Feb 2017. They were buried at Muslim cemetery 250 kilometers (155 miles) away, north of Montreal as there is no Muslim cemetery in Quebec City. Photographer AA].