In order to land the dead in a Muslim cemetery, where the graves are oriented symbolic city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, relatives must now take the spoils in Montreal. This is the only place in Quebec where special sites have been developed. Some even repatriate the bodies to their countries of origin.
The operation therefore demand significant resources either logistical or financial.
The association president, Mustapha Elayoubi, considers that the first Muslim presence in Saguenay soil goes back forty years.
The regional community now has about 400 members. “It ages, he explains simply. Sure it’s a concern. The problem will arise one day, already beginning to feel it. ”
Although the association has taken steps to test the waters in recent months, the community has not decided the direction it wanted to give the file.
It could for example buy a “neutral” field which must then comply with municipal, government and environmental. In particular, according to the Law on Non-Catholic Cemeteries, the location must be approved by the Minister of Health and Social Services.
“There is no consensus among the members,” says Mr. Elayoubi. “We especially amassed information and met with stakeholders. It’s true that it would be more feasible to occupy a portion of land that already has the vocation cemetery. ”
At the Association of Muslim burial Quebec, an organization that works mainly in the metropolitan area, it is precisely the preferred option. Thus, we find the square Muslims Rideau Memorial Gardens and Urgel Bourgie. A partnership with private enterprise Magnus Poirier funeral home recently helped create the Muslim cemetery in Montreal, Laval.
“It’s a big challenge, says president Belkacem Hadjira in a telephone interview. Just in Montreal, it was hard work, but we definitely want to help Muslim region too. We are 600,000 in Quebec, and there are only four small squares in Montreal to bury our dead … We contacted many politicians, not bad people called to advance our records. ”
Ms. Belkacem says Muslim rites “are not complicated.” “It is only necessary that other religions accept to welcome us, and it’s not easy.”
For the president, it is a question of dignity.
“It’s very sad. I see seniors who want to stay close to their children and their grandchildren, but they do not know where they will be buried. End of life, we need to be reassured. ”
The Islamic Association of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean was founded in the 90s, when buying the 555, rue Bégin, Chicoutimi, which serves as a mosque in the community.
“At the time, it was a need. Find a cemetery, is the next need, “says Mustapha Elayoubi.
The factory must first give consent
If the Muslim community in the region wants to share with the Catholic cemetery, such as Saguenay cemetery in Saint-Honoré is the factory owner who will give his first deal.
The chancellor of the Diocese of Chicoutimi, Raynald Côté explained that according to the cemeteries Management Guide, currently used, these sites are sacred places to dispose of the dead according to Roman Catholic rites. The factory may grant “special permission”.
“The advice I would give is that if a party is transferred or sold, Muslims should have their own private access to the cemetery to be independent. It is the ideal solution to eliminate some irritants that might happen. ”
Eventually, the Bishop should also give consent. “Bishop André Rivest has received no formal request to this effect until now,” says Côté.
The cemetery of Saint-Honoré has already been considered for its isolated nature and wide open spaces that have not yet been developed. It is managed by the Corporation of Catholic Cemeteries of Chicoutimi, a group of factories, which have been talks a year ago with the Islamic Association of Saguenay-Lac-Saint-Jean. “Finally, there is no further steps with the diocese,” said the general manager Alain Girard.
The corporation is now associated with the funeral of the United Alliance. Mr. Girard admits elsewhere in the province, some funeral homes are better trained to meet the specific needs of Muslims. “We are open to accompany them, but obviously we can not meet all their needs and that complicates things a bit.”
The old cemetery of the Congregation of the Sisters of Notre-Dame-du-Bon-Conseil, located on land used by the Solidar Farms of St. Joseph rank in Chicoutimi, has also been the subject of rumors. In the fall, the graves of nuns were however moved into the St. Anne parish, and the space is removed from vacant.
Sister Pierrette Gauthier confirms having received in September a request from a regional stakeholder but the congregation are not followed, lack of energy to spare. The question is not yet settled. “Another General Council will make the decision,” she said.
An issue related to integration
“If a Muslim cemetery was created in Chicoutimi, why did he not become the graveyard of Muslims in the regions?” Reflection is launched by the researcher from the Université du Québec à Chicoutimi (UQAC) Khadiyatoulah Fall, who made the issue Muslim death an important issue for the integration of immigrants of this religion.
He who holds the Chair of education and interethnic and intercultural research (CERII) co-wrote the 2011 book The Muslim death in the context of immigration and Islamic minority. religious issues, cultural identity and areas of negotiations. He observed during the work communities of Chicoutimi, Quebec, Sherbrooke, Trois-Rivières and even Sept-Îles.
“There were Muslim cemetery projects in Quebec and Huntingdon, but it was unsuccessful. The population has legitimate reason to ask questions. In Saguenay, I rather felt very open and sensitive to political stakeholders, “explains Mr. Fall.
The researcher says that the space in Montreal in Muslim cemeteries is becoming smaller, and this is rather remote destination for immigrants from the regions. “The concern is especially present in the Saguenay that throughout Quebec.”
The most widespread trend before was to repatriate the bodies of the dead in their home country. “There is a reversal of the situation says Khadiyatoulah Fall. Even dead, people want to be near their children. This is what I call integration underground. It is a powerful symbol because people and transmit to future generations a commitment and a sense of belonging to the homeland. ”
Immigration is therefore a matter in life, it is also a question during death illustrates the researcher. “It’s like the issue of care of end of life and die in dignity. Muslims were completely absent from this debate. We need a society of reflection. ”
The creation of a Muslim cemetery has been seen in some places as a pull factor for these immigrants and the local population was afraid of being “overrun”. This fear is a bit exaggerated, according to Fall.
“It is a difficult subject, and do not create stigmas. There is a change in the profile of immigrants, young people are only “insists Professor who sees Muslim cemeteries as a sign of Islam as important as mosques, halal food and headscarves .
In addition to their orientation towards Mecca, Muslim burials are also rather simple. “Normally, the body should be buried directly in the ground without a coffin. Muslims have realized that this does not happen here with hygiene standards. “Khadiyatoulah Fall said that cremation is forbidden in Islam.