Quebec City’s mayor has signed a deed of sale for a parcel of land that will soon become the region’s first Muslim cemetery.
Mayor Régis Labeaume had promised the land to the city’s Muslim community in 2017, shortly after residents of a nearby town voted against a proposal to open an Islamic cemetery in their area.
The mayor was joined for the public signing Thursday by Boufeldja Benabdallah, president of the main mosque in Quebec City, who thanked Labeaume for pushing ahead with the project and avoiding a divisive debate.
Benabdallah says Quebec City’s Muslims have been working to have their own cemetery for 20 years.
Community members seeking formal Islamic burials have had to send their dead to Montreal.
The Quebec City Muslim cemetery is expected to open by the spring.
Benabdallah’s mosque was the site of a mass shooting in January 2017, when a gunman murdered six men in the main prayer hall.
The following summer, residents of Saint-Apollinaire, 35 kilometres southwest of Quebec City, rejected a proposal to open the area’s first Muslim cemetery on their territory, by a vote of 19 to 16.
At Thursday’s ceremony, Labeaume invited citizens to “love each other.” He told reporters Quebec City is changing, and new waves of immigration will make the city — and the rest of the province — more diverse.
“As of today, we need to start thinking about what we can do, about the steps we can take in our community, so that we can all live together in harmony,” he said.