New Cemetery Discussed as Somali Population Grows

June 17, 2008

Author: Staff Writer

Source: Post-Bulletin

Wire Service: AP

In a sign that Somalis and other immigrant refugees are becoming a permanent part of central Minnesota, the Somali Elders Council and two faith-based groups are working to establish a Muslim cemetery in the St. Cloud area.

Since Somalis started arriving in the region in the late 1990s, more than 20 St. Cloud-area families have had to travel to the Twin Cities to bury their loved ones according to Muslim rituals, said Ismail Ali, chairman of the Somali Elders Council. Ali said the cost can be $7,000.

"You have to hire a car to transport the body, and it's more expensive in the Twin Cities to buy a grave than it is here," he said. "It only makes sense for us to have our own cemetery here."

For the past year and a half, the Somali Elders Council has been working with the Great River Interfaith Partnership and the Diocese of St. Cloud to find land to purchase for a cemetery.