Decision clears way for work on Islamic burial ground

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2003

LAWRENCEVILLE, Ga. (AP) Plans for an Islamic cemetery in Gwinnett County are moving forward after county commissioners agreed to a disputed, preliminary design for a 5-acre cemetery.

Gwinnett County planning commissioners unanimously endorsed the proposal for a 1,276-plot cemetery in this Atlanta suburb. A final vote will be held later this month.

Members of the Georgia Islamic Institute in Lawrenceville have been trying for more than 18 months to win approval for a cemetery.

Local officials balked at first because of Islamic burial practices, which call for wrapping the body in a shroud, without embalming and without a casket or vault, and interring it within 24 hours of death. Neighbors also worried about the impact of the cemetery on property values.

The institute's imam, or spiritual leader, Hafiz A. Ghaffar Khan, said work on the cemetery should begin soon, and its landscaping and fencing will be installed within 60 days.

When finished, the cemetery will be the second Islamic cemetery in Georgia. The other is located south of Atlanta in Lovejoy.

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