Published: 2017-07-19 13:05
Last Updated: 2017-07-19 13:05
Plans to build St-Apollinaire’s first Muslim cemetery have been quashed, after members of the community voted against the project.
Bernard Ouellet, mayor of the small Canadian town, explained that despite personally backing the project, he believes that “what drove the community's choice in general was really fear, disinformation. I'm convinced of that.”
Out of the 49 eligible residents who voted in the referendum, 19 voted against and 16 voted in favor, while one ballot was thrown out.
Their fears most likely stem from the deadly shooting that shook the town’s Muslim community when the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec was attacked earlier this year.
The attack left six Muslim men dead as they were performing evening prayers on January 29.
Shortly following the attack, local Muslim leaders spoke about the need to build a Muslim cemetery, seeing as Quebec province’s only cemetery is about three hours away near Montreal.
Because the Muslim cemetery only accommodates 3000 plots, small sections of cemeteries around the Montreal area are reserved for Muslims.
Meanwhile, opponents of the project rejected allegations of racism.
Sunny Letourneau, the spokesperson for a local citizens' group that was against the cemetery, told CTV News: "We're in a multicultural society. We live together, we work together, why wouldn't we die together?"
However, Mohamed Labidi, president of the Islamic Cultural Centre of Quebec City, had other thoughts.
"This is very disappointing. It was just a cemetery. How could we arrive at this result?" Labidi told The Globe and Mail.
"We are Canadian citizens just like everyone else. Why are we being treated differently? We're now starting over at zero. We will fight," Labidi told the newspaper.
Labidi, who believes that "ignorance and misunderstanding have won the day," added that he “would consider challenging the case in court.”