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Muslims Want a Cemetery: There is a Problem

August 31, 2016
Plain English Version
Dr. Amjad Bahnassi, left, chairman of the board of the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester, and civil engineer Imad Zrei before the Dudley Zoning Board of Appeals. Photo credit: Jesse Costa/WBUR

Dr. Amjad Bahnassi, left, chairman of the board of the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester, and civil engineer Imad Zrei before the Dudley Zoning Board of Appeals. Photo credit: Jesse Costa/WBUR

The use of land is a big deal for Americans. When anyone wants to develop land – for a store or a school – the people of the area want a voice.

“Zoning” laws govern the use of land. Sometimes they call it “land use.” There is another issue. It is the “environmental review.” It is about water runoff, traffic, noise and pollution among other things.

Making changes in the land can cost a great deal of money and time.

A good example of how land use stirs things up is taking place now.  Muslims who live in the town of Dudley, Mass. want to buy land for a cemetery. The site is about fifty acres of unused farmland.

The town turned down the Muslims’ request to build a cemetery. It said the reason had nothing to do with the fact that the applicants were Muslim. There are so many rules and procedures. The town said that the applicants did not follow them all.

The town’s Muslims think otherwise. They think might be that the people in the town are not comfortable with their Muslim neighbors. It is hard to know what the real reason is. Opposing changes in land use is an American tradition.

There is tension between Muslims and others in many places. Part of the reason is because of the Muslim Islamic State.

Across the nation, towns oppose the building of mosques. The U.S. government is looking into the reasons for turning down applications. It is hard to prove the reason is opposition to Muslims.

It often takes years for stores to get the right to build. Walmart is the biggest retailer in America. It has still not been able to open a store in New York City.

The groups with resources and patience usually win. The rules are not intended to stop change. They are to make change difficult.

Source: The New York Times August 26, 2016

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