Rotterdam: Fight over cremation

Muslims in the Netherlands have been fighting in order to enable them to be buried properly according to Islamic law. But what if a person who comes from a Muslim family decides not to be buried properly?

Police agent Habiba Yaakoubi died two weeks ago at the age of 34, apparently from a brain hemorrhage. Since then, her body has been in dispute.

Yaakubi, a senior police officer in Rotterdam, had specified in her will that she wants to be cremated. Her mother, saying that her daughter would spend eternity in hell if the cremation goes through, turned to court to get an injuction not to comply with her daughter's wish. The court rejected the petition. The judicial decision had caused emotional reactions from some of the women's relatives.

Ibrahim Spalburg, of an umbrella association of Muslim organizations in Rijnmod explains that being buried correctly is important for Muslims. "The body comes from the earth and must be returned to the earth. that's why all over the world there's barely a Muslim who will have themselves cremated.

There were several hundred participants, when at the last moment it was announced that the cremation will not take place. A police spokesperson said there had been nothing pointing to a criminal offense.

It seems that due to the family's insistence, the court wants to take a closer look at the cause of death. According to the Public Prosecution new information had come in and that they wouldn't have rushed to do an autopsy.

Her boyfriend, Denise, whom she had met when they were both volunteering as "Desert Cops" says: "You don't wish this on your worst enemy. You want to conclude a difficult period. The announcement at the cremation was a surprise for me as well".

The family cannot believe that she had signed a declaration saying she wants to be cremated. According to the family the signature on the funeral center form is not hers.

The family's lawyer says there are enough reason for an autopsy since the death was completely unexpected and only an external examination was done to check for cause of death.

Abraham Wijbenga, president of the Muslim burial society says that there was no sense in appealing the result of the injunction, considering the date of the cremation and that he had been in contact with the family about what other possible approaches there were.

The family claims that the woman wanted to be buried in the Netherlands. Also though she upheld a Western lifestyle she had made overtures to her family. "Although she had nothing more to do with the faith as such, she carried Islam deep in her heart" is the way the injunction decision cites the family's opinion.

Her friend Dennis is resolute over Yaakubi: "She was good looking. She ate everything, smoked, dressed regularly. Not particularly a Muslim. Just look at the photos from the trip to Africa where we got to know each other. We drove also through her land, which she thought was very beautiful. She wasn't veiled and didn't wear a head covering.

"That she's a Muslim and therefore didn't want to be cremated doesn't seem right to me. I hadn't seen that form from the funeral center. But she did joke about being cremated. That she would prefer being burned because she always had cold feet. Typical for her. And she also didn't say grace before eating."

He confirms that she was brought up by Dutch people due to circumstances. "I know that the contact with the Moroccan family wasn't so good. She did have respect for her own parent. She had never said anything bad about them."

Dennis can't imagine that Habiba was a practicing Muslim in another sense: "Because why would she go out with me? I believe nothing."

He says the two were planning to buy a house together. They had spent a lot of time together, where sometime he brought his two daughter and she would bring her 8-year old son.

In the meantime the court had decided to allow her body to be buried, until an inquiry can be done into her will. Her next of kin can ask for her to be cremated after May 1st, assuming
it turns out her will had not been forged.

Sources: 1, 2, 3, 4 (Dutch)

See also: Netherlands: Cemetery turned, Netherlands: Promote freedom of religion

1 comment:

PeterS said...

It is decided now that she will be buried within 10 days from now (May 5th). This is decided by the city of Vlaardingen.

Main reason is that with a burial, her son will have a place to remember.

I think it is more that they are afraid to upset the Islam community, since both her ex-husband and boyfriend insisted on cremating her.