The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester has resolved its dispute with the Town of Dudley over the establishment of an Islamic cemetery. The organization was represented by Jay Talerman of Mead, Talerman & Costa with Sarah Wunsch of the American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts, and Howard M. Cooper and Ben Wish of Todd & Weld LLC.
“Today is a good day for citizens of all beliefs. Our right to practice our religion and honor loved ones in accordance with our Islamic faith has been affirmed. We will be going forward with our project in Dudley. Area Muslims will now have a dedicated Islamic burial ground in which to bury our dead in Massachusetts,” said Dr. Khalid Sadozai, Trustee of the Islamic Society.
The settlement, approved Thursday evening by the Dudley Board of Selectmen, will result in an initial 6-acre cemetery with the right to expand after 10 years. Although the project remains subject to final, routine approvals, the settlement recognizes explicitly the religious use of the cemetery and the protections afforded that use under the law including the limited scope of municipal review of projects involving a religious use.
“This has been a long and difficult legal battle, and we are extremely pleased with the result,” commented Jay Talerman, a partner with Mead, Talerman & Costa and counsel to the Islamic Society who has handled the permitting of the project from its inception. “It is critically important in this environment that the Islamic Society stood its ground,” Talerman added.
“The Town of Dudley is to be congratulated for agreeing to resolve this matter in a way which recognizes the right of all religious communities to practice their religion. That right is fundamental to our society, and it has never been more important for all of us to insist that it be honored,” commented Cooper.