[Dearborn, July 2, 2020]: What do you call a cemetery that won’t permit burials of Muslim folks in Dearborn at a time of global pandemic? The American Moslem Society mosque, among others in the community, would like to know.

For decades, the mosque and Woodmere Cemetery of Detroit have been good neighbors along Riverside Drive. More than that, they have been business partners of a sort. With its large membership, the mosque has purchased thousands of grave spaces in bulk from the cemetery and passed them on at cost to its members and their families. But now, during a time of great suffering and need in the community, the cemetery will not allow any burials from the mosque even though it has paid in advance for 622 grave spaces at a cost of $388,750.00.

The cemetery claims that its contract with the mosque requires the mosque to pay in advance for 1000 graves before using even one of them. However, this claim is purely invented, as the contract has no such clause. Meanwhile, the cemetery, exposing its true motivation for barring the community, has proposed a solution: Rip up the contract and make a new one in which the cost of graves and burial related products and services is roughly doubled. The cemetery has made an obvious but cynical calculation that the close knit AMS community will pay double to have its family members buried near the mosque and near the thousands of other community members who already rest at Woodmere Cemetery.

The mosque has filed suit in Wayne County Circuit Court for breach of contract against the cemetery. The complaint also sheds light on the shoddy treatment given to existing burials in the AMS sections of the cemetery. In these sections, the cemetery’s careless maintenance and landscaping practices have caused damage to existing burial vaults and permitted persistent wet and muddy conditions around the graves. These conditions, which do not appear to exist in any other area of the cemetery, are unsettling to family members and make the visitation of graves unpleasant and, at times, impossible.

“At a time of global pandemic and resulting economic hardship in our tight-knit community, the decision of Woodmere Cemetery to bar burials is impossible to fathom” said Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director. “Woodmere Cemetery has trampled on the good faith of our community and reneged on its solemn promise, more than a contract, to allow our families to be near their cherished loved ones” added Hamad.

“The situation at hand is not a mere inconvenience but is interference in the timely, sacred burial rites of Dearborn Muslims,” said CAIR-MI Executive Director Dawud Walid. “Besides breach of contract, which is being asserted by the American Moslem Society, Woodmere Cemetery has apparently breached the community’s trust during a pandemic which has affected Southeast Michigan more than many other areas in the nation.”

A press conference has been scheduled at the AMS mosque, 9945 Vernor Hwy, Dearborn, Michigan at 11:00 am on Friday, July 3, 2020. Further information on the controversy is available from the AMS’s lawyer, Steven G. Cohen, 248-762-6516, or Imad Hamad, AHRC Executive Director- 313-790-8453

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