Desiree Moninski stands on the site of a proposed Muslim cemetery in Dudley, Mass on April 12, 2016. Federal prosecutors have opened an investigation into whether civil rights laws were violated by the town of Dudley that has rejected plans for the Muslim cemetery.
Elise Amendola—AP
By Abigail Abrams
August 18, 2016

Federal prosecutors are investigating whether a Massachusetts town’s rejection of plans for a Muslim cemetery violated any civil rights.

U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz said Thursday the prosecutors will examine whether the town of Dudley violated the Islamic Society of Greater Worcester’s right to religious exercise, the Associated Press reports.

The Islamic group bought 55 acres of land in Dudley for the cemetery, but local officials stopped the project due to environmental and traffic concerns. Dudley residents have said they fear burial practices might contaminate groundwater, according to the AP, because Muslims often do not embalm bodies and do not use coffins.

The group’s lawyer, Jay Talerman, filed a lawsuit against the town last month and said anti-Muslim prejudice was behind the town’s rejection. Ortiz said the investigation will look at whether the town put unreasonable barriers on the cemetery proposal.

“All Americans have the right to worship and to bury their loved ones in accordance with their religious beliefs, free from discrimination,” she told the Associated Press.

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