Negotiations to put a Muslim cemetery in the small town of Dudley have broken down in acrimony, and the contentious issue — replete with charges and countercharges of bigotry and grandstanding — appears to be headed for resolution in the courts, aided and abetted by the litigation jihadists of designated terrorist group CAIR.
Boston Globe The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester ended talks this week after the Board of Selectmen did not accept its latest proposal for a graveyard on 55 acres of abandoned farmland, according to the society’s attorney. A counter-offer by the town also was not accepted. Neither side provided details of the private discussions.
Jay Talerman, the Islamic Society attorney, said Thursday the group will now pursue the plan in the courts, following a 10-month process that failed to produce an agreement but generated plenty of heated rhetoric.
“Each time, the selectmen retreated to a position that involved violating my client’s rights,” Talerman said. “The most disappointing part appears to be that they never sincerely or genuinely had any intention to accommodate us.” (What a surprise. NOT)
A suit filed by the society is pending in Massachusetts Land Court. In addition, the ACLU of Massachusetts is preparing to file a civil rights suit in US District Court, said Sarah Wunsch, the organization’s deputy legal director.
The Obama thugs of the US Attorney’s Office in Boston already has launched an investigation into whether civil rights violations occurred. The state Attorney General’s office has been in talks with both sides.
The town’s attorney, Gary Brackett, said that the issue always has been about the size and impact of the cemetery — not whether one would be permitted. Throughout the process, Talerman said, “the selectmen never expressed a willingness to abandon procedures that are a direct affront to my clients.” Brackett denounced Talerman’s repeated accusations that anti-Muslim bias tainted the cemetery application.
“I would compare Mr. Talerman’s broad-brush claims regarding the citizens and officials of the town of Dudley as being the equivalent of Donald Trump’s attempt at portraying Muslims,” Brackett said.
Dr. Amjad Bahnassi, the president of the Islamic Society, said he attributed part of the opposition to a “misunderstanding” of the Muslim religion and said the issue has become a civil rights concern for many of the estimated 5,000 Muslims in Worcester County. “We’re being denied unfairly what is granted to us by the law,” Bahnassi said.
At issue is the Islamic Society’s attempt to buy farmland with enough space for an estimated 16,000 graves that, if filled, would be the largest Muslim cemetery in the state. The society currently uses a graveyard in Enfield, Conn., 60 miles from Worcester, which Muslim leaders said poses a hardship for many families.
When the society’s plans became public early this year, townspeople expressed fears that burials would contaminate well water, because Muslims traditionally do not use coffins, and that the nearby rural roads would become congested.
Muslim leaders continued to pursue their application through town government, even though Talerman said the society was not required to seek approval because the organization is a religious group seeking the land for a religious purpose.
The town’s Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the cemetery application in June, and the Islamic Society filed suit in Land Court. The town also began efforts to buy the land under a right of first refusal for certain agricultural property.
However, the Islamic Society, which already had signed a purchase-and-sale agreement for the property, argued again that the town had no such right. Facing intensifying pressure, the town eventually waived that claim. On Thursday, Talerman reiterated his longstanding contention that bigotry lies behind the lack of an agreement.
“We gave this town an opportunity to lock arms with us and welcome a benign use into their town that would dispel any notion that they were biased or bigoted,” he said. “They have not taken up the olive branch and instead have doubled down on strategies that are solely intended to delay or kill our project.” (Yes, and once Trump is in office you can take your lawsuit and stuff it)