Muslim cemetery plans anger Aussies

Plans for building a Muslim cemetery in the ground of a historic Anglican graveyard in south-west Sydney are drawing a fierce opposition from locals, reported The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday, September 25.

“My history is buried there,” Len English, from the Friends of St Thomas Church, said. “My grandparents, my parents, my aunts, uncles, my brother, cousins. Our family goes back 200 years in the district. They came to Camden Park and stayed there.”

The Lebanese Muslim Association (LMA) has paid $1.5 million for the St Thomas Anglican Cemetery at Narellan for the graveyard near Camden. The cemetery, which has capacity for 1900 single plots, has space for almost 4000 bodies.

“We all know they’ve got to bury their dead somewhere but I think they could have looked around and probably found some ground like every other religion has done in this area,” said English. “We’ve got a Catholic cemetery, we’ve got a Church of England cemetery, we’ve got a general cemetery just out of Camden. I’ve got nothing against migrants but when they want to take over your cemetery …”

Camden was the scene of a fierce opposition from locals to plans to build a Muslim school in the town. The locals, however, gave blessings for the construction of a Catholic school in the area.

In post 9/11 Australia, Muslims, who make up 1.5 percent of Australia’s 20-million population and who have been in the country for more than 200 years, have been haunted with suspicion and have had their patriotism questioned.

A 2007 poll taken by the Issues Deliberation Australia (IDA) think-tank found that Australians basically see Islam as a threat to the Australian way of life.

A recent governmental report revealed that Muslims are facing deep-seated Islamophobia and race-based treatment like never before.

Islam Online, 25 September 2008