Muslim cemetery gets approval in Quebec City
Muslims in Quebec City will finally have a place to bury their dead, after the municipality announced that it plans to sell land for what will become the first Muslim cemetery in the provincial capital region.
Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume said on Friday that the city would sell more than 5,700 square metres of land to the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec, the mosque where six men were killed in a brutal attack earlier this year.
The price tag for the sale is CAD $270,000 ($213,000USD), and the cemetery is expected to be ready in the autumn, according to The Canadian Press.
"It's a great day for the City of Quebec… it's a historic day," said Mohamed Labidi, president of the Quebec City mosque, during a press conference on Friday afternoon, Radio-Canada reported.
After the attack on the mosque last January, community leaders renewed their calls to have a cemetery built to serve the provincial capital region, and Labeaume promised them that a cemetery would be built.
The only cemetery devoted completely to the Muslim community in the province of Quebec is located just outside of Montreal, about three hours away.
Labidi said the Muslim community had been waiting 20 years to get a cemetery in the capital. "Thank you, Mr Mayor, for keeping your promise," he said.
Read more: Quebec town rejects plans to build Muslim cemetery
Six men were killed when a gunman stormed the mosque on January 29 in Quebec City.
|Gunmen had stormed into the Quebec mosque and
opened fire into the crowd of worshippers.
There was no nearby place for their burial [AFP]
Five of the victims were repatriated to their home countries for burial, while only one was buried at the cemetery near Montreal.
That a cemetery will finally be built "will put a bit of balm on this tragedy", said Boufeldja Benabdallah, the interim coordinator of the cemetery project, at Friday's press conference.
The announcement comes after residents of the small town of St-Apollinaire, about 40 kilometres south of Quebec City, voted against a proposal to build a Muslim cemetery there last month.
The town's mayor said at the time that he believed the decision was made based on "fear" and "disinformation", while members of the Muslim community accused the town's residents of discrimination.
Meanwhile, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau congratulated Labeaume "for taking action"."An important and courageous step for dignity and decency," Trudeau tweeted on Friday afternoon.
Jillian Kestler D'Amours is a journalist based in Canada.
Follow her on Twitter: @jkdamours