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Quebec City accepts Muslim community’s bid for land to build cemetery

Click to play video: 'Muslim community encouraging Quebecers to have open minds'
Muslim community encouraging Quebecers to have open minds
WATCH: Quebec City has granted its Muslim community the right to build its own cemetery, but as Global's Sarah Volstad reports, religious leaders also want to encourage Quebecers to be open minded, instead of scared – Aug 4, 2017

Quebec City has accepted a Muslim community’s offer to buy land to build a cemetery.

The Centre Culturel Islamique de Québec (CCIQ) bought the land next to the Belmont cemetery, priced at $270,000 and spanning 5,706 square metres, south of Frank-Carrell Street.

READ MORE: Quebec City-area Muslim cemetery project won’t be reintroduced: Mayor

The city explained the area is already zoned for a cemetery, so no changes will have to be made.

READ MORE: Quebec City-area residents vote against Muslim cemetery project

“For more than 400 years, Quebec has welcomed people from all cultures, languages and religions,” said Quebec City Mayor Régis Labeaume.

“To live together, no matter our origins, is fundamental for our society to succeed.”

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This comes just weeks after a proposal to build a Muslim cemetery in Saint-Apollinaire, 35 kilometres southwest of Quebec City, was rejected by citizens.

WATCH BELOW: Quebec City residents reject Muslim cemetery

Click to play video: 'Quebec City residents reject Muslim cemetery'
Quebec City residents reject Muslim cemetery

After the referendum was voted down 19 to 16, Mayor Bernard Ouellet insisted he wouldn’t make residents vote on the subject again.

“For an ordinary cemetery, I imagine it wouldn’t have been a problem, but this is a Muslim cemetery. That’s what created this conflict,” he said at the time.

He added that some people told him they think a mosque will be next and that Muslim people would start buying houses and that they would “invade.”

READ MORE: 49 people to decide whether Quebec City’s Muslims get their own cemetery

“It’s so flagrant it was a prejudiced vote,” said Mohamed Kesri, who proposed the Saint-Apollinaire project with the CCIQ.

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READ MORE: Not enough Muslim cemeteries in Quebec, community struggles to bury dead: immigration specialist

The plan for the cemetery was developed after January’s deadly mosque shooting; opponents of the project had argued Muslims should be buried in Islamic sections of existing cemeteries.

— With files from The Canadian Press.

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