Reasons to Love Toronto: No. 11, because we get along
A couple of years ago, a proposal to build a mosque on a site not far from Ground Zero was met with months of protests and frothing rhetoric. The reaction proved, if nothing else, that some Americans will forever believe Osama bin Laden was the leader of all Muslims. Compare this to how the GTA greeted the announcement last year that a Muslim group was opening a 40,000-plot cemetery in Richmond Hill: a collective shrug. While it’s true that the 15 hectares near Leslie and Stouffville Road never experienced a terrorist attack, the cemetery is nevertheless a radical proposal for another reason: it’s a joint project of the rarely harmonious Shia and Sunni sects. And, even more remarkably, the group bought the land for $6.8 million from a Jewish company, the Beth Olam Cemetery Corporation, which also happily provided a sharia-compliant, interest-free mortgage. The cemetery officially opens this month, and aside from a tiny Shia site in Markham, it’s the city’s first to cater specifically to Muslim rituals—burials must be done within 24 hours of death, and with the corpse’s shrouded face turned toward Mecca.