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MADRID: The Madrid City Council last week approved the use of land in the Spanish capital for Muslim burial spaces.

Maysoun Douas, the first and only Muslim councillor on the City Council for Mas Madrid, made a speech to highlight the problems and lack of rights faced by the Muslim community in the region.

Religious freedom includes the right to receive a dignified burial without discrimination on religious grounds, she said.

However, there is currently only one Muslim cemetery in the Autonomous Community of Madrid, in Grinon, 40 km from the center of Madrid.

In 2016, it was already full and did not even allow burials according to the Islamic rite, because municipal ordinances require the use of coffins.

The space was historically designated for Franco’s “Guardia Mora” during the Francoist dictatorship.

The Autonomous Community of Madrid has about 250 public cemeteries, 14 of which are municipal in the city of Madrid.

Of all of them, only the one in Grinon is Muslim, for about 300,000 people in the community and 100,000 in the capital who practice Islam.

All this comes under civil rights for Muslim citizens, which have been stigmatized according to Douas. 

“The official interlocutors for religious issues, organizations we trusted, convinced us that we were fighting for our rights when they were actually hijacking them,” she said.

“This is a group that needs real institutional support, as organizations have done little or nothing to implement basic rights recognized for other citizens,” she added.

After decades of stagnation and paralysis of progress, only political participation and the occupation of spaces by new voices opens the way to achieve basic rights, such as the ability to bury family members under the same umbrella of rights as any other citizen, no matter what religion they profess, she said.