Stepdad can't be buried on a Saturday - he's not Muslim
Before I could get round to posting this story from the Sheffield Telegraph this morning it has been taken up by the national press.
A GRIEVING family from Sheffield have been told they can't bury their stepfather on a Saturday - because he was not Muslim.
Retired steel erector Harold "Charlie" Lemaire, from Woodseats, died last week aged 75 from pneumonia.
His stepdaughter Jean Maltby, from Greenhill, wanted the funeral to be held this Saturday so family who live outside the city - including her brother Stephen, now living in Dorset, and relatives from the Isle of Man - could attend.
But when her funeral director called City Road Cemetery to arrange a memorial service in the chapel followed by burial, he was told the funeral would not be allowed on a Saturday - because the family was not Muslim.
Today Sheffield Council confirmed it does not offer funerals at the weekend except to Muslims, in line with the rules of the Islamic faith that the dead must be buried as soon as possible.
But Abdool Gooljar, president of the Sheffield branch of the Society of Islam, said the council should try to meet the needs of every resident of the city.
"The last thing we want to do is cause more upset at the time of bereavement, and I would urge a re-think so everybody has the right to bury their dead when they want," he said. "I, firstly as a Muslim and secondly as a citizen, do not want preferential treatment.”
Martin Green, senior bereavement services manager for Sheffield, said the council's policy was in line with that of others around Britain.
"The council recognised the specific cultural and religious needs surrounding burial and has been offering an extended burial service to the Muslim community," he said.
But Ms Maltby said she felt it was unfair to offer weekend funerals to one religion and not to others. "It should be one rule for everyone - and I don't think the people of Sheffield realise the council has made this decision," she said. "It goes against the council's policy of equal rights. They are making a service available to one sector of the community and not another. Having the funeral on a weekday is going to make it really difficult for some of our family to make it. I don't think the majority of people would have Saturday as a preference, but for us it would be the most convenient."
Ms Maltby's funeral director, Michael Fogg, added: "I believe a service offered to one section of society should be given to everyone.”
As with the fuss over the direction toilets should face, it is not necessarily Muslims who are asking for special favours but officials who seem to be trying to anticipate their every request.
Posted on 09/24/2008 8:46 AM by Esmerelda Weatherwax