Saint-Apollinaire: referendum on the project of cemetery of Quebec

Elias Hubbard
July 19, 2017

Sixteen voted for the cemetery, while 19 voted against, and one ballot was spoiled.

Quebec Muslims now bury people in a cemetery in a Montreal suburb, about 270 kilometres south of Quebec City.

The vote was open to only 49 residents living near the proposed cemetery site; 36 turned up.

The story is front-page news in Canada, a country usually seen as welcoming to immigrants. "This is an important request", Mohamed Kesri, who was overseeing the project, said, adding that the project could have benefitted thousands but the result has saddened him.

"I think it's obviously a pity that we do not allow people to have a place for their loved ones can have their eternal rest with the lord", acknowledged the minister Christine St-Pierre.

Saint-Apollinaire resident Sunny Létourneau, who voted against the cemetery and went door-to-door to convince others to do the same, said she only supports non-denominational cemeteries.

Bernard Ouellet, mayor of St-Apollinaire, backed the cemetery proposal.

A video of the sermon, published on YouTube, shows the imam reciting the Arabic words, "O Muslim, O servant to Allah, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him".

Alexandre Bissonnette, 27, a Quebec City man with far-right political views, has been charged with six counts of first-degree murder in the January mosque attack and is awaiting trial.

Since the shootings in January, a section of a multi-faith cemetery has set aside an area for Muslims, but the one in St. Apollinaire would have been the first in the region to be owned and operated by Muslims.

In March, at a public meeting to discuss the proposed project, opponents voiced concerns that a Mosque and a school could follow a cemetery. "We're already feeling invaded", one opponent of the project later told the Globe and Mail newspaper.

According to a poll carried out in March by CROP, a research firm, for the French network of the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, 23 per cent of respondents across Canada favoured a ban on Muslim immigration like the kind pushed by US President Donald Trump across the border. The figure was 32 per cent in Quebec. "That's Quebec. That's the Quebec we want to see and hear", he added.

The referendum was held on Sunday in Saint-Apollinaire, a town of about 5,000 located just outside Quebec City.

The town's decision to oppose the cemetery has led to an outcry amongst Muslims and civil-rights advocates across the country and may lead to a human rights complaint, Mr Labidi said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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