Sidney, NY (WBNG Binghamton) It's a tradition for an Islamic Community in Sidney. But, it's one the town now wants stopped.
The Town of Sidney says the law prevents the group from maintaining a cemetery on its property. The group says it's bias.
Action News reporter Matt Markham has the story.
"They pretty much keep to themselves, like, there's always rumors going around," said Evan Oliver of Sidney Center about the Muslim group on Wheat Hill Road.
"We expect it and we also know that most people aren't like it," said Hans Hass, a member of the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani order.
But the Islamic order never expected to hear this. The town wants the graves dug up. Graves they say were not permitted in the first place.
"They buried bodies. They buried one last November that was not authorized, and they just buried another one this summer," said town supervisor Bob McCarthy.
McCarthy says the property is not zoned for burials. If the cemetery is eventually abandoned, he says the town will have to pick up the cost of maintaining it.
He points to other, traditional cemeteries in town, asking why Islamic community couldn't bury its members there.
"They're funded by themselves. They take care of themselves. They're not on the back of the local taxpayers." That, McCarthy says, is the real issue. Not religion.
"It has nothing to do with it," McCarthy said. "It's just that they're the only people who try to bury a body on their land."
"The issue seems to be that Mr. McCarthy seems to think that the law is something it isn't," Hass said.
The group says it obtained the paperwork it needed from the town and the state several years ago for the cemetery. But negative feelings about Muslims in society, and their residence in town, are the underlying issues.
"I have an idea that people outside the area behind this are stirring up fear, paranoia," Hass said.
People around Sidney have known about the community since they moved up from the New York City area a few years ago.
They say their burial battle is the talk of the town.
"It's none of my business, but it's their land," Oliver said.
Hallowed land to these people, who hope their departed rest in peace.
"It's still peaceful. It's the people that are making the problems that don't have the peace," Hass said.
The Muslim group says it is in the process of seeking legal counsel. The Sidney town attorney is studying the issue, as well.
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