13 Jun, 2023 @ 19:30
1 min read

Left with nowhere to bury their dead, Madrid’s Muslim community turns to ombudsman for help

Cordon press Cemetery (2)
Cordon press Cemeter (Casabermeja , Malaga ) On All Saints Day, it is common for families to attend church and visit cemeteries to place flowers and candles on the tombstones of their deceased loved ones. This day is a national holiday in Spain and many other historically Christian countries.The Casabermeja cemetery is a place of cultural interest that shows its uniqueness.

THE MUSLIM community of Madrid has turned to the ombudsman in a bid to be granted cemeteries where they can bury their dead. The so-called Platform for a Dignified Burial has presented 500 signatures in the hope that the process of adapting a cemetery in the Carabanchel district can be speeded up. 

The group has taken the step, according to Spanish daily El Pais, over the sense of inaction among the community on the part of the public administrations as well as the Spanish Islamic Commission, which represents Muslims in the country. 

Sara Elasri Soto, a member of the platform, told the newspaper that the ombudsman is “a body that represents citizens, and that is what we are, meaning that we have the right to use this route and to have a place where we can be buried with dignity.”

The Carabanchel cemetery is currently the only one that is appropriate for Muslim burials in Madrid but as a result there are no spaces left. 

Muslims are not usually buried alongside non-Muslims, meaning that a separate area of a cemetery is required. 

In July 2022 the City Council approved a proposal from the Socialists to assign more plots for a Muslim burial ground, but nearly a year later nothing has happened. 

“The administrative authority lies with the council and the Municipal Funeral Service company, and we are not seeing any advances,” Elasri complained to El Pais. “The situation is completely stalled.”

Islamic burial customs usually involve the burial of the body as soon as possible, after it is bathed and shrouded. The deceased is positioned so that their head is facing Mecca.

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Simon Hunter

Simon Hunter has been living in Madrid since the year 2000 and has worked as a journalist and translator practically since he arrived. For 16 years he was at the English Edition of Spanish daily EL PAÍS, editing the site from 2014 to 2022, and is currently one of the Spain reporters at The Times. He is also a voice actor, and can be heard telling passengers to "mind the gap" on Spain's AVLO high-speed trains.

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