Quebec City mayor vows to give Muslims a place to bury dead
Laval has only dedicated burial ground in Quebec for growing Muslim population
The deaths of six men in a Quebec City mosque is underscoring a problem that Quebec Muslims have encountered for years — they have a hard time finding space to bury their dead.
"Most people want to be buried here, but the lack of cemeteries is an obstacle, sadly," Belkacem said.
Not only is there no Muslim cemetery to receive the bodies of those who died in Quebec City, there are no dedicated burial grounds for Muslims anywhere outside the greater Montreal region.
Mayor Régis Labeaume vows to find burial space
Believers have been pushing for cemetery space in the Quebec City region since 2014. Now, in the wake of the terror attack, the city's mayor says it is time to finally make that happen.
"We are working with them to see what they need. We will help them," said Régis Labeaume.
Several thousand people gathered at the Maurice Richard Arena on Thursday for a service for Khaled Belkacemi, Abdelkrim Hassane and Aboubaker Thabti.
They were honoured in Montreal before their bodies are repatriated to their countries of origin.
Another funeral service will take place in Quebec City on Friday to honour Mamadou Tanou Barry, Ibrahima Barry and Azzedine Soufiane.
The bodies of five of the six men killed in the attack will be returned to their countries of origin.
Mamadou Tanou Barry will be buried in Laval.
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Plots oriented toward Mecca
Lilia Derbal, the secretary general of the Muslim burial association, says practising Muslims could theoretically be interred in any burial ground, as long as the plots are oriented toward Mecca.
But she said the association has not been able to secure a section in a Quebec City cemetery that meets that criteria. When Labeaume discussed the issue this week, he said legal and financial issues were factors.
Just 16 months ago, after years of lobbying, members of the Muslim community inaugurated a 3,000-plot cemetery in Laval.
It's located in the Laval Cemetery, which also has sections for Christians and Jewish people.
Derbal said there are smaller sections reserved for Muslims in three other cemeteries — one in Brossard, one in Dollard-des-Ormeaux and one at a different cemetery in Laval.
But it's difficult for families who don't live in the greater Montreal region to travel a great distance to visit the site.
"We look for help from everyone from government to other cemeteries to create new plots for Muslims," Derbal said.
"In a few years there will be no place for our deceased."