Vlaardingen: Cemetery not used much
The Muslim cemetery in Vlaardingen (the Netherlands) which opened in October 2008 is barely being used. In the past year one burial took place there.
The special cemetery cost 50,000 euro and came after urgings from diverse Islamic organizations. A part of the Vlaardingen Holy cemetery was 'sacrificed' for it. The deceased are buried with their heads facing Mecca.
Despite the lack of eagerness among Muslims, the Vlaardingen municipality remains positive and expects more interest in the future. "But it can take years before Islamic funerals at Holy become as common as funerals of ethnic Dutch," says the municipality spokesperson.
Vlaardingen Muslims still prefer to be buried in their land of origin, says H.J. Meenhorst of the Goetzee funeral parlor. "If that is really not possible, they choose a grave in Crooswijk or the Zuider Cemetery in Rotterdam. There's no demand for Vlaardingen. Maybe that possibly is yet not known enough."
"The rule is: East, West, home is best," according to M. Bozdag of the Turkish community in Vlaardingen. Another important consideration to bury the remains in their own country is that graves are not rented there and cleared out after ten years, as is done in the Netherlands. "By us you buy a grave and you stay there for ever."
The 140 Muslims graves in Holy are there primarily for refugees who for political reasons can't go back to their own country after their death, such as Iraqis, Afghans and Somalis.
The biggest target group were the Palestinians, of which there are 1,500 in Vlaardingen. But they're also currently keeping to the custom to bury their dead elsewhere.
According to Ibrahim Al-Baz, spokesperson for the Palestinian Association, that's because the Muslim part of the Vlaardingen cemetery is not yet well known. An artist is now working to attract more attention to the place. It's unclear how much that would cost.
Al-Baz further thinks that it's a question of time before Muslims will choose to be buried in Vlaardingen. "Additionally use is naturally dependent on the death rate. I recently laughingly told my wife: We finally have our own cemetery, and the Palestinians refuse to die!"
Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)