Saturday, September 16, 2006

Walid comments on the need for more Muslim facilities

New site proposed for Muslim cemetery
Friday, September 15, 2006
By Beata Mostafavi • 810.766.6210

New cemetery plan
Three years after failing to get approval for an Islamic Cemetery in Flint Township, Flint Generals owner Dr. Khaled Shukairy has a similar plan for Clayton Township.

Where: A 56-acre farmland on Morrish Road, north of Corunna Road, south of Calkins Road.
Conceptual plan (not yet an official site plan): 2,453 grave sites, a prayer center and area for homes. Would include several phases over several years.
Westland's Islamic Memorial Gardens is the only other exclusively Islamic cemetery in the state.

CLAYTON TWP. - Local Muslims are hoping a tree-dotted field here will become a final resting place for their loved ones.
Three years after Flint Township officials rejected Dr. Khaled Shukairy's proposal to build an Islamic cemetery there, he has plans for a similar project north of Corunna Road that could potentially hold 2,453 gravesites.
The 56-acre farmland with the rust-red barn and patches of violet florets on Morrish Road could be replaced by rows of grave sites of the first Islamic cemetery in the county and second in the state.
Some say the rare project - whose conceptual plan includes an area for a prayer building, cemetery and about 30 acres for 1-acre-lot, single family homes in a future phase- is a sign of a growing Muslim community carving a place in this end of the state.
"We respect the dead and want to have a place for them," said Dr. Abdelmajid Jondy, president of the Islamic Center in Clayton Township. "It's pretty simple. We have our own burial (rites) as do the Christians, as do the Jews. I think it's time for us to have a cemetery here."
Jondy, who like Shukairy came to the United States from Syria, said the Muslim population in this county has gone from fewer than 20 families in 1971 to more than 200 now.
While sections of nondenominational cemeteries - which fill rapidly - have been set aside for Muslims, an exclusive cemetery is unusual, even near Metro Detroit where an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 Muslims live.
In June, the 15,000-plot Islamic Memorial Gardens, the first all-Islamic cemetery in the state, opened in Westland.
"Muslim cemeteries are extremely rare throughout America at this time," said Dawud Walid, executive director for the Michigan branch of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "But with the growing population, the community's needs grow as well."
An estimated 600,000 Muslims live in Michigan, he said, noting that many face harassment and opposition to building something faith-related, such as a mosque or community center post-Sept. 11, 2001...(MORE)

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