MONTREAL: Quebec's mayor announced Friday that the city's Muslim community will have their own cemetery, despite objections from right-wing groups and rising anti-Muslim sentiment.
The city had promised a separate Muslim graveyard after a shooting attack by a white supremacist at a mosque in January that left six people dead. The Muslim cemetery will be set up on land adjoining one of the city's main cemeteries.
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"The city of Quebec has accepted, subject to the approval by City Council, an offer submitted by the Islamic Cultural Center of Quebec to purchase municipal land that will allow the construction of a cemetery for the Muslim community in the greater Quebec City region," City Hall said in a statement.
"For over 400 years, Quebec has been a welcoming city for all cultures, languages and religions," said Quebec's mayor Regis Labeaume. Negotiations over a possible Muslim cemetery had been dragging on for more than a decade, but the debate became more heated after the mosque shooting.
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The Muslim community was outraged that the remains of some of the victims had to be to be taken to Montreal, 150 miles away, to be buried in a Muslim cemetery. Last month, plans to build a Muslim graveyard in a small town just outside the city had to be scrapped when local residents rejected the idea in a referendum. Local media said far-right groups had lobbied in favor of a 'no' vote.
Several days after that local poll, the Quebec Muslim center received a package containing a desecrated Koran and a hate message. Anti-immigration and anti-Muslim messages have been on the rise in towns across Quebec province and on nationalist websites. A spokesperson for a right-wing nationalist group, The Federation of Native Quebecers (FQS), in July called on the airwaves of Radio Canada for a poster campaign against what he called "massive immigration" which he said Quebecers did not want.
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