Space allocated for Christians, atheists in Muslim cemetery
ANKARA - Radikal
The move stirred debate since the section is a neglected and disorderly area.A section in a Muslim cemetery in Istanbul’s Kilyos district has been allocated for Christians and atheists with no relatives, stirring debate since the section is a neglected and disorderly area.
Authorities from the Istanbul Metropolitan Municipality’s Cemeteries Directorate affirmed that they had allocated the space, but they did not give any further information apart from saying that the necessary work would be conducted as soon as possible.
A lawyer from the Protestant community, who requested to be referred to by the initials A.E., said one of his Protestant acquaintances had been buried recently in this cemetery due to financial constraints.
“I find the burial conditions of orphaned Christians and atheists unrespectable. It is second-class treatment,” A.E. said.
“Article No. 10 of the [Turkish] Constitution states that all individuals are equal without any discrimination before the law, irrespective of language, race, color, sex, political opinion, or any such considerations. Those who will be buried here [in this section] are the citizens of this country as well. They pay their taxes, and they must have equal rights.”
A.E. said the section was in very poor condition when compared to the Muslim part. A.E. added that they had appealed to the Cemeteries Directorate and the district’s municipality for the improvement of that section.
“Due to financial constraints, people bury their relatives in manure. Cows are grazing around [the graves], and the land is covered in mud. I am sure burying someone under these conditions would prick the consciences of both Muslims and Christians.”
A.E. also said in this area, only small numbers are attached to the non-Muslims’ graves. “If you know exact place of your relative, you could be regarded as lucky because many numbers fall or are lost. You have to step on other graves in order to reach a grave.”