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Montreal, Jul 19 (Candian-Media): Trying to recover from the fatal mass shooting in January, which killed six worshippers at the Quebec City Grand Mosque, the Muslim community in Saint-Apollinaire, the second largest city of Quebec, received a fresh shock when the authorities rejected their proposal to open a cemetery in the town, media reports said.
Quebec City Muslims' project, led by Mohamed Kesri on behalf of the Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec, to create a cemetery had been defeated by three votes in a referendum.
Bernard Ouellet, Mayor of the town of Saint-Apollinaire, -- reflecting on the result -- said he had hoped that the opening of the cemetery would become a symbol of acceptance toward the Muslim community, adding that this defeat was mainly because of fear of the people who considered all Muslims to be radicals, The Globe and Mail news reports said.
Kesri said although he was disheartened, he still had the courage to pursue the fight.
“We will not give up. It’s insane. Three votes. We speak for thousands of Muslims in Quebec City,” He was quoted in the media as saying.
Although the community said it prefered to obtain the cemetery through negotiations, it added that if the proposal fails, it would be forced to consider a court challenge or human-rights complaint.
A tentative deal had been struck by The Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec with a funeral operator to buy a piece of land in an industrial area of Saint-Apollinaire, southwest of Quebec City – which gained urgency after the January incident.
Union of Quebec Municipalities -- while presenting a brief to a Quebec parliamentary committee this year -- called the referendum process for land-use issues “dysfunctional”.
The union debated that only voters in the zone adjoining the proposed cemetery site, -- an industrial and semi-agricultural area of auto-body shops, horse farms and bungalows, separated from the Saint-Apollinaire town centre by a busy highway -- were eligible to vote.
The referendum approval, said Muslim community, existed only in Quebec and nowhere else in Canada.
Legitimate municipal leaders failed to act as they were constantly plagued with the threat of referendum and said "the fear of minimal number of signatures on the registry could cancel a municipal project and concluded this system of approval by referendum was dysfunctional.”
Concerns of some opponents that a Muslim-only cemetery would result in concentration of more Muslims, mosques and would become the biggest threat to Western civilization.
The community said they were disappointment after yet another futile cemetery debate, which usually ends in a failure each year.
In justification of their demands, the community said they could get their dead into the ground before they get cold If only they could have a Muslim-only cemetery,
Muslims said it was expensive to freeze the dead bodies adding that money could be used for the living.
(Reporting by Asha Bajaj)