My grandfather, Joseph Tedesco, passed away when I was 15 years old. I remember his burial – the first in my life – like it was yesterday. Family and friends of all backgrounds gathered in a beautiful cemetery in Newton, Massachusetts. As you can imagine, it was a difficult moment for everyone in attendance. Tears flowed. The air was filled with grief. It was a real human experience. Everyone leaned on each other for support. We needed that moment to cope and get by. Those kind of “send offs” in cemeteries are crucial. For starters, we must say goodbye to loved ones in a way that honors them. Secondly, proper burials allow those who are still alive to come to terms with the difficult reality that life is not eternal.
Not too far from Newton is a small town called Dudley. On the site of a long-idle dairy farm, Muslim leaders of a local mosque are hoping to build a cemetery – a final resting place – for about 500 local Muslim families. Anyone with an open heart and a bit of compassion will understand why building a burial ground is important to these Muslims, who by the way are our fellow citizens and human beings!
I certainly hope this Muslim community is successful in achieving their goal, though it seems that locals are working to stop the construction of the burial ground out of fear of Islam. Unfortunately, the opposition is strong, and their arguments are ridiculous. One resident, as CBS News reports, said he worried he would have to put up with “crazy music” like the adhan, or Islamic call to prayer. Perhaps unsurprisingly, what is happening in Dudley is not an isolated event. Similar sentiments have been expressed by people in communities around the country where Muslim cemeteries have been proposed, including Farmersville, Texas; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Farmington, Minnesota. As CBS News again reports, in some cases, opponents have succeeded in defeating the new cemetery projects.
I now teach at Rice University in Houston, Texas. Farmersville is about a three hour drive from my home. Christians in Farmersville were openly hostile during meetings on a proposal to build a Muslim cemetery on a 35-acre site just outside the city. During a meeting to discuss this burial ground, one Farmersville man yelled “You’re not welcome here!” A local resident named Barbara Ashcraft, who also attended the meeting, is on record stating: “People don’t trust Muslims. Their goal is to populate the United States and take it over.”
In short, people do not trust Muslims and even fear them in death.
Islamophobia has reached an all-time low (or shall I say high?) in the United States. Anti-Muslim sentiment is so rife that non-Muslims do not even want Muslims to bury their dead family members near them. Think about that for a second. Forget about sharia, ISIS, homegrown terrorists and other buzz words used by media to promote Islamophobia. We are talking about giving people the ability to bury their dead family members. This kind of Islamophobia highlights the complete and utter dehumanization of Muslims in the United States. People are making Muslim Americans out to be less than human and hence not worthy of humane treatment.
I wish I did not have to write this, and I hope this is not condescending, but let us actually humanize Muslims for a change. They have families. They love. They have hearts. They have souls. They cry. They have memories. They need to grieve. They need places to go to reconnect to previous moments in time.
Muslims in Dudley and elsewhere must be given the right to bury their dead with peaceful dignity. This is called showing basic human decency. It is called loving our neighbors, for you Christians out there. We can also call it love of humanity. Dudley – and the United States broadly speaking – needs more of it.
14 thoughts on “Even in Death, People Are Afraid of Muslims”
Hi Dr. Craig
I’m very glad you wrote this. I did not know this is happening in Texas. I used to live in Kingsville, and we usually travel all the way to Houston to get Halal meat supply. Houston should be a safe place. Still is?
Just to add, in Malaysia where Islam is the national religion, we provide burial grounds for Christians, Chinese, Hindus, and other religions. Muslims are thought to respect other religion as well. As human beings, we bury the dead regardless the religion or ethnics. I don’t see any harm will come from providing a burial ground.
This article needs to explain why a separate cemetery is needed.
There are separate Catholic cemeteries and I bet you don’t blink an eye.
We have Jewish, Catholic, and separate cemeteries for almost every belief. Why are you questioning this?
Those are the people who dont even want to let muslims bury their deads in their neighbour cemetery , and you are asking why cant they bury in christian cemetery
“People don’t trust Muslims. Their goal is to populate the United States and take it over.”
This is a controversial statement? Consider the Hijrah, the migration of Mohammed and his followers from Mecca to Medina. Within a few years they went from being wretched refugees to the military power in control of Medina, in the process of slaughtering or exiling the local Jews and starting their takeover of Arabia. Sunni Muslims claim to follow the Sunnah, the example of Mohammed. What could be following the example of Mohammed more closely than the Hijrah we see in Europe today. Jews are being bullied out of Europe. Synagogues need armed guards in France and airport security procedures elsewhere. Jihadist attacks in major cities are coupled with Muslim Brotherhood type subversion with the intention of gaining eventual political control (MCB in Britain, CAIR in the US). As Europe slides towards eventual subjugation or civil war, Americans would do well to take note and prevent the same thing happening to them.
And no, I have no objection to anyone burying their dead.
Jews are being bullied out of Europe by the white “Christian” population.
Really? That’s the first I’ve heard of it. Can you point to any instances?
Everything I’ve heard points the other way. The recent attacks on Jews in Europe have always been carried out by Muslims, it is Muslim areas which brave reporters have walked through wearing a skull cap with predictable results, and of course this is what Jews are telling us.
I’m a white(ish) European and this is news to me. Take, for example, France. Was it white “Christian” Europeans who were behind:
– the massacre in Paris kosher market?
– the attack on a soldiers guarding a Jewish community center in the wake of the massacre in the Paris kosher market?
– the stabbing of three Jews near a synagogue in Marseilles?
– the stabbing of a teacher in Marseilles by three men, one of them wearing an ISIS t-shirt?
– the brutal machete assault by a 15-year-old kid against a teacher in the name of ISIS?
“Forget about sharia, ISIS, homegrown terrorists and other buzz words used by media to promote Islamophobia.”
Right, because none of those “buzz words” describes anything actually taking place, they’re only used to promote “islamophobia” in the media, for whatever reason the media have to promote “islamophobia”. Sharia is only praying 5 times/day and marriage and funerary rites, ISIS is not real but an illusion resulting from mass hysteria, and home-grown terrorists are only Timothy McVeigh, the Unabomber, the KKK and the PETA members who throw buckets of animal blood on people who wear fur. Now don’t you dare talking about home-grown terrorists leaving the country to join ISIS because they see ISIS applying sharia law, you bigoted islamophobe!
The Jewish community forget the behaviour of Jews soldiers to Muslims in Israel and its occupied land. You forget to mention where Jews kill young age children every day
What does your piece of anti-Jewish propaganda has to do with the article?
OH, BTW, Solomon, this is from today’s news:
“ A 17-year old Palestinian terrorist infiltrated a West Bank Jewish community and stabbed a 13-year old girl in her own bedroom, critically wounding her. The girl, identified as Hallel Yaffa Ariel, died on her way to the hospital.
Terrorism apparently runs in the Tarayrah family. Mohammad’s uncle, Yusuf Waleed Tarayrah, carried out a car ramming attack in March near Kiryat Arba during which he was killed by IDF forces.”
Hello Dr Craig,
I remember visiting Rice University in 1992.It is kind of prestigious.
I don’t see the problem with muslims having their own cemetery.Well I dont live in US Any more(does count).