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25 July 2010

Council graveyard 'charges Muslims less for burial plots'

A council-run graveyard is selling Muslim burial plots £500 cheaper than those for non-Muslims, to the anger of local residents.

Christian churchgoers have complained about the "discriminatory price" of burial plots in the Greenlawn Memorial Park cemetery in Warlingham, Surrey.

The cemetery – which is managed by Croydon Council – offers Muslims a graveyard plot for £2,383, but charges non-Muslims £2,927 – a hike of £544.

The cemetery has a specially-designated area of land for Muslims, who as part of their religion only allow one body to be buried in any one plot and must be buried apart from non-Muslims and facing Mecca.

Local John Spencer, 41, said he was "disgusted" at the price difference, adding: "In death people need to be treated entirely equally.

"Money should not be an issue, especially when it is directly linked to which God you pray to.

"I think the council need to have a serious rethink on this issue because there comes a point where you just have to stand up for what you believe in and say 'I'm not going to take this anymore.

"If Muslims needs separate areas that is fine, but they should pay exactly the same as everybody else, with no exceptions."

A spokesman for Croydon Council said that the reason for the price difference was that Muslims only allow one person to be buried in a grave, whereas people of other religions can use the plot for more than one person.

Kevin Pilkington, the head of bereavement services at the council, said: "The difference between the plots is that the Muslim graves are only used for one burial, whereas the other graves can be used for up to three people and for cremated remains."

He said that the price of a non-Muslim grave "decreased" with each additional person added to it, meaning that "adding a body" to the grave would only cost £886 extra


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