Coming to a rural U.S. town near you soon too.
Residents living in a picturesque rural village have hit out at controversial plans to build what would be Britain’s largest Muslim cemetery on rural land.
The proposed 11-acre site in Catherine-de-Barnes, near Solihull, West Midlands, would include a total of 11,000 graves for followers of Islam.
Currently, the largest Muslim-only cemetery in the UK is in Ilford, Essex, which has 5,000 plots.
It means the development – which would include 95 parking spaces for visitors – will become the country’s biggest if it gets the green light.
The graveyard would be able to comply fully with Sharia law which states Muslims are traditionally buried in their own section of land, next to others of the same faith.
Islamic law also stipulates a method of bathing and shrouding the bodies before being buried with their heads facing towards Mecca.
Today, residents of the village – which has a population of just 613 – criticised the move and said questioned the need for the cemetery.
It would mean the facility could eventually hold over 18 times as many people as currently live in the village itself.
Locals are also objecting the plans for the cemetery based on concerns surrounding the impact it will have on traffic as well as the surrounding greenbelt land.
Plans for a large plot of 4,000 graves was made in January and received 160 objections and 180 submissions of support were sent to Solihull Council.
The application was originally withdrawn amid the storm of protest.
But in July the plans were resubmitted and the second application for an adjacent Muslim-only cemetery was received by the authority this week.
Both applications are due to go before the planning committee next month.
Conservative councillor Alison Rolf, for the Bickenhill ward of Solihull, said: ‘My main concern is that they are building on the greenbelt land.
‘When the first application was taken down local people were delighted that it had gone away, but it’s come back with very little adjustment.
‘I understand people’s frustrations.’
One representative for the Catherine-de-Barnes Residents’ Association who has lived in the area for 31 years, but did not want to be named, said: ‘There’s no need for it.
‘The borough has sufficient provision for the next 20 years.’
Leader of Solihull Council, Conservative councillor Bob Sleigh, said he also agreed the needs of local people could already be met at the borough’s current plots.
He said: ‘There is no need for this extra site in Solihull. We have identified our population need and made provision for that.
‘This is an extremely large proposal.
‘Obviously people are concerned about the scale of the development and its threat to greenbelt land around Catherine-de-Barnes.
‘I don’t believe the case has been made to overcome the very special measures which apply to greenbelt land.’
Both cemeteries – which were submitted by different applicants but through the same agent, Cemetery Development Services – have received backing from the Muslim community in Solihull, who said there was a desperate need for more burial spaces.
Funeral director Mohammed Khalil, of Birmingham-based ZUQ Funeral Services, said even 11,000 burial plots would barely provide enough space for the next 50 years.
‘Before, they used to send people back home to their families in Pakistan and Bangladesh.
‘But apparently now all their families are here and they have no-one back home.
‘They are saying ‘this is our country now.’
‘We are living here and dying here so we should be buried here.’