The Finnish Islamic Council has been searching without success since 2008 for a burial ground in the southern Finnish region of Uusimaa, according to YLE in English. Up to know, Muslims are buried in the “Muslim section” of Lutheran Church cemeteries.
Pia Jardi, deputy chair of the Finnish Islamic Council, told Migrant Tales that a questionnaire was sent to 16 municipalities about the matter but only four responded: Helsinki, Espoo, Vantaa and Tuusula.
She said that she was surprised by the large number of municipalities that didn’t respond.
“Are they worried about voters [if there is a Muslim cemetery in their municipality]?” she said. “Muslims do the same thing in graves as any other people.”
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Jardi said that cooperation with the Lutheran Church has been good.
“We’ve been sometimes asked why don’t we bury our dead in the Tatar Cemetery of Hietaniemi [in Helsinki],” she continued. “This isn’t possible since you have to be a member of the Tatar community to be buried there.”
The six-year search is a good example of how some sectors of Finland persist in the belief that very little will change as our society becomes more culturally diverse. Our laws and values speak of integration, or two-way adaption, but what happens in too many cases is assimilation or expectations of the latter.
“You would certainly think that we would find an area in Uusimaa that could be rezoned for cemetery use,” Jardi was quoted as saying on Yle in English. “Perhaps is has to do with a lack of political will. If you even scan web forums they are extremely anti-Muslim…”
There are some 60,000 Muslims estimated living in Finland.