The village of Sidney, NY asked a Muslim group dig up two bodies they buried in a small cemetery on land they own because, the town contends, the burial plots are illegal.
But town supervisor Bob McCarthy doesn’t know which law they broke. “I don’t know what the exact law is,” he said.
In a phone interview with TPMMuckraker on Wednesday, McCarthy said that he was being “harassed” by media calls, and said he’s not an expert on the law.
“This is an internal town issue. We have not done anything, there have been no papers filed, no one has been served, and an attorney is looking into it. That’s all that happened,” McCarthy told TPM. “This thing has gotten so blown out of proportion that its ludicrous. This thing is a minor deal, and if they’re correct, nothing is going to happen.”
The controversy started last month, when the Sidney Town Board unanimously passed a resolution at its Aug. 12 meeting “to begin legal proceedings against the Muslim Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani Sufi Order on Wheat Hill Road in Sidney Center over a cemetery it has established on its land,” the Daily Star reported earlier this month.
McCarthy maintained that the situation had nothing to do with the controversy over the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque.”
“But you know when you get the liberal media out there with this thing, it’s like you’re out there killing these people or something,” McCarthy said.
The plots appear to be perfectly legal. A code enforcement official for the town had written in a letter on Dec. 6, 2005 which said that a gravesite at the location would be allowed.
“I think it’s out of bigotry,” Hans Hass, who heads a local EMS unit and spokesman for the order told the New York Daily News. “They don’t like us being here, even though we’ve been here since 2002.”
McCarthy told TPM that he didn’t know who first raised the issue over the graves to the town board, and said all he was doing was trying to keep taxes as low as possible.
“We have cemeteries dating back 200 years, we have to take care of them,” he said. “It winds up back on the town which is what we’re looking to not have.”
As the Daily News reported, the injunction passed by the board last month “appears to fly in the face of the town zoning code, which permits graveyards on private property as long as they’re in a contiguous 15 acre area.” There are reportedly no state regulations regarding burial on private property.
In a segment on Tuesday, Stephen Colbert reached the conclusion that viewers should be scared of “Muslim vampires” who are part of “sleeper-in-coffin cells.”
Asked if he was offended that people were branding the town as anti-Muslim because of their decision, McCarthy said: “Wouldn’t you be?”