RNA - Negotiations to put a Muslim cemetery in the small town of Dudley have broken down in acrimony, and the contentious issue — replete with charges and countercharges of bigotry and grandstanding — appears to be headed for resolution in the courts.
The Islamic Society of Greater Worcester ended talks this week after the Board of Selectmen did not accept its latest proposal for a graveyard on 55 acres of abandoned farmland, according to the society’s attorney.
A counter-offer by the town also was not accepted. Neither side provided details of the private discussions.
Jay Talerman, the Islamic Society attorney, said Thursday the group will now pursue the plan in the courts, following a 10-month process that failed to produce an agreement but generated plenty of heated rhetoric.
“Each time, the selectmen retreated to a position that involved violating my client’s rights,” Talerman said. “The most disappointing part appears to be that they never sincerely or genuinely had any intention to accommodate us.”
A suit filed by the society is pending in Massachusetts Land Court. In addition, the ACLU of Massachusetts is preparing to file a civil rights suit in US District Court, said Sarah Wunsch, the organization’s deputy legal director.
The US Attorney’s Office in Boston already has launched an investigation into whether civil rights violations occurred. The state Attorney General’s office has been in talks with both sides.
The town’s attorney, Gary Brackett, said Thursday that a resolution still could be reached if the Islamic Society hired another lawyer and that the issue always has been about the size and impact of the cemetery — not whether one would be permitted.