SIDNEY (AP) – Members of a small Muslim community in Sidney say the uproar over a planned mosque near ground zero is behind attempts by local officials to shut down the community’s graveyard and remove the two bodies buried there.
Hans Hass of the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani community, 130 miles northwest of New York City, said Tuesday that anti-Islamic bigotry motivated the Sidney Town Board’s vote in August to pursue legal action to shut down the Sufi community’s cemetery.
“They knew we had the cemetery,” Hass said. “I filed burial permits with the town. It wasn’t an issue until the ground zero mosque came up.”
Town Supervisor Bob McCarthy said the cemetery is illegal and bigotry had nothing to do with the board decision. He said no legal action has been taken yet and referred questions about the potential action to town attorney Joseph Ermeti, who didn’t return a call seeking comment.