The Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani order is a small group of Sufis who bought some land in upstate New York in 2002 as a spiritual retreat. A few years later, they used some of the property as a graveyard, burying two followers there.
Now the town of Sidney, NY says the burials were illegal, the graveyard is illegal, and the bodies need to be removed.
A spokesman for the group talked to the NY Daily News:
"I think it's out of bigotry," said Hans Hass, who also is the head of the local EMS unit. "They don't like us being here, even though we've been here since 2002."
Town supervisor Bob McCarthy raised objections to their cemetery right around the time protests erupted in downtown Manhattan over plans to build an Islamic Center near Ground Zero, Hass said.
"I don't think it's a coincidence," he told The Daily News.
Town Supervisor Bob McCarthy claims bigotry had nothing to do with it, and that the cemetery is simply illegal. He told the Associated Press:
"These people just came up and buried bodies on the land,"
McCarthy said. "You have to have permits. They didn't have them.
You can't just bury Grandma in the backyard under the picnic
The group has a letter from 2005 the town gave them. They claim it certifies the land for use as a graveyard. Hass also says he filed burial permits both times the graveyard has been used.
McCarthy says his concern is that the town may end up responsible for maintaining the graveyard if it's abandoned and calls any claims of anti-Islamic intent "ludicrous."