On the site of a long-idle dairy farm, leaders of a local mosque hope to build a final resting place for about 500 Muslim families — to the dismay of many residents of this quaint town in central Massachusetts.
In arguments cemetery developers and activists decry as thinly veiled bigotry, neighbors say they fear burial practices could contaminate groundwater because Muslims traditionally do not embalm bodies and bury their dead without coffins. They also cite concerns about noise, vandalism and increased traffic on the narrow road where the cemetery would be built. One resident said he worried he would have to put up with "crazy music" like the Islamic call to prayer.
Similar sentiments have been expressed by people in communities around the country where Muslim cemeteries have been proposed, including Farmervsille, Texas; Walpole, Massachusetts; Carlisle, Pennsylvania; and Farmington, Minnesota.