CAIR Seeks Apology from NY Town Over Muslim Cemetery Flap Town initially sought to dig up Muslim graves, letter now says no action will be taken
(NEW YORK, NY, 10/14/10) -- The New York chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-NY) today asked that officials of a town in that state issue a public apology for attempting to close a cemetery belonging to a Muslim group.
According to the Osmanli Nakshibendi Hakkani Sufi order, objections to the cemetery in Sidney, N.Y., followed protests related to the Park51 Muslim cultural center in lower Manhattan.
The town has since changed its decision to move forward with a lawsuit that would have prevented further burials and forced removal of the bodies of two young Muslim men already buried at the site. The attorney for the Muslim group has received a letter from the town's representative stating that "no action will be taken by the Town of Sidney in this matter."
"We believe that it is no coincidence that this group was being asked to exhume the remains of its deceased members from the cemetery at a time when anti-Muslim sentiment has spread across the nation," said CAIR-NY's Civil Rights Director Aliya Latif. "We call on the town supervisor Robert McCarthy to publicly apologize to the Muslim community and the families of the deceased for seeking to dig up the bodies of those that rest at this burial site."
"The town finally admitted that they have no legal basis for any lawsuit. Filing one would have just opened the town up to a whole array of civil rights litigation," said Hans Hass a spokesperson for the Sufi order that owns the cemetery. "We are calling on Town Supervisor Robert McCarthy and Town Attorney Joseph Ermeti to resign. We and thewhole town of Sidney deserve an apology for the reckless actions of Mr. McCarthy and the families of the two young men buried in our cemetery deserve recognition from the town that our cemetery is perfectly legal."
Concerned residents in the town of different faiths plan to hold a protest at the next town hall meeting in Sidney unless the town issues an apology and a statement formally recognizing the legality of the cemetery.
On Saturday, CAIR's national headquarters announced the launch of a department devoted to addressing the alarming rise of Islamophobic sentiment in American society.
CAIR is America's largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance the understanding of Islam, encourage dialogue, protect civil liberties, empower American Muslims, and build coalitions that promote justice and mutual understanding.