kristne i Nottingham (England) begraves nu med retning mod Mekka
skrevet af T. Harper

Nottingham, UK:
Halvdelen af de begravede på ny kirkegård er muslimer, den anden halvdel ikke-muslimer. Alle begraves efter muslimske regler:
The graves in a new cemetery are to be aligned with Mecca – for Muslims and non-Muslims alike – in a move that has upset many Christians.

Burial plots have, by tradition, pointed east, in line with Christian beliefs. But a council in the East Midlands has taken the controversial decision to position thousands of headstones in a new £4 million cemetery facing in a north-easterly direction.


Muslims bury their dead facing north-east because they believe that they look over their right shoulder towards Mecca in the south-east, 3,000 miles away. Headstones in Christian churchyards point east in anticipation of Christ's second coming from that direction.

Muslims are predicted to take up only around 15 per cent of the available burial plots in the cemetery.

Christian groups yesterday expressed dismay at a policy that they say "marginalises" them and accommodates Muslims at the expense of other faiths.

The Nottingham city council decision rubber-stamps a proposal by the local Cemeteries Consultative Committee (CCC), which claims it will give the new High Wood cemetery in Bulwell, "a tidy appearance". Local Muslims have welcomed the move as "a sign of tolerance and acceptance".

Musharraf Hussain, a local imam, said: "Negotiations with the council have been going on for years and it is great to see it has finally paid off. This is an important rule of Islam and it is very generous of the other faiths to recognise that."

However, Rachel Farmer, a spokesman for the Southwell and Nottingham diocese, said that clergy on the CCC have no recollection of being asked about the policy.

"We totally support an inclusive policy for graveyards, which takes into account the religious traditions of all faiths, but this should not be done to the exclusion of another," she said. "Positioning all the graves in the direction of Mecca conflicts with the long-standing Christian burial tradition of graves facing towards the east."

She said the people of Nottingham should be given the opportunity to follow Christian burial traditions, adding: "This policy will limit the choice of the majority in relation to burials at this new cemetery."

The Rt Rev George Cassidy, the diocesan bishop, also questioned the consultation process and called for the situation to be reviewed with "a policy that takes account of the needs of all".

Bodies will be buried facing north-east, unless relatives of the deceased specifically request that other arrangements be made.

The Rev David Gray, the priest-in-charge of St John's church in Bulwell, said this was unfair. "It
should be a case of opting out rather than opting in."

Since the cemetery opened in July, six burials have taken place – all in graves that face north-east. Three of the deceased were Muslims. One is understood to have been a Christian.

Steve Dowling, the council's services director for Environment and Public Protection, said: "In the first phase of development it was agreed that the graves face north-east. For people of the Muslim faith this fits in with a religious requirement, but it will also ensure a tidy appearance for the site as a whole."

He suggested that many graves in Nottingham do not follow the Christian tradition. Last week, he met with Anglican clergy who are upset about the decision. The diocese has no jurisdiction over the new cemetery, which has been allocated 40 acres to cater for the shortage of space in graveyards in the area. It is Nottingham's first new cemetery for 85 years.

The leader of the city council, Jon Collins, denied that the policy had been adopted to placate Muslims. He insisted: "We haven't made any agreement with any single community group. Anyone can be buried facing in any direction they like."


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