“Certainly we can live side-by-side,” Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert said Tuesday night. “But can we be dead side-by-side?”
Folks planning to “March to Keep Fear Alive” with Comedy Central’s Stephen Colbert on the day before Halloween — Devil’s Night — may be “terrified that they don’t know what to be scared of.”
“Live Muslims” are an “oldie but goodie” to fear, Colbert joked, before discussing how one small town in upstate New York is more worked up about the “dead ones.”
A town in upstate New York is trying to force a local Muslim religious community to dig up a small cemetery on its property and never bury anyone there again because it says it’s illegal.
“What we would not want is an unauthorized cemetery,” says Bob McCarthy, town supervisor of the Delaware County town of Sidney, population 5,993. “We’re taking care of a bunch of cemeteries, and they just came in and buried the bodies, and didn’t go through…there’s no funding there, it’s not a standard kind of deal, and it’s going to become a liability to the town.”
So what steps have the Muslims skipped? “I don’t know what the exact law is,” he says.
Which is the problem; because whether or not the town government likes it, there are no laws in Sidney — or New York state, for that matter — covering cemeteries on private land — religious cemeteries included. Plus, the town approved the cemetery in 2005.
While the New York State Division of Cemeteries does not regulate private cemeteries, state laws do say that burials must be handled by a licensed funeral director. Hans Hass of the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani community says that a funeral director was on site for the burials.
Sidney town clerk Lisa French told CNN that there are other local and state regulations that could affect the grave site.
But French points to another law in the state’s Department of Cemeteries, which does indicate that it is unlawful to mortgage land “used and occupied for cemetery purposes.”
The community center’s lawyers are looking into the mortgaged land issue and are still uncertain whether the law is applicable to their situation, Hass said. “We didn’t have a cemetery that we mortgaged, we have a property that we had a mortgage on from the beginning and we put a cemetery on it,” he said. The center is confident the matter will be resolved — either by dividing the property or paying off the mortgage, Hass said.
An Islamic Center planned near Ground Zero is credited with driving anti-Muslim sentiment but McCarthy said that has nothing to do with his case against the Sidney burial site.
When asked about allegations of anti-Islamic sentiment, McCarthy said, “That’s ludicrous. The only reason they received any attention is they illegally buried bodies. Other than that, I didn’t even know they were here.”
“How dare those Muslims build a grave so close to ground?” joked Colbert.
“Now, usually when you die your threat level decreases significantly,” Colbert continued. “But evidently not with Muslims. They get scarier. Which can only lead to one logical yet terrifying conclusion — Muslim vampires.”
“That’s right. Not just sleeper cells, sleeper in coffin cells,” he warned.
“Protect yourself. Protect yourself from Muslim vampires by making your neck non-halal. Rub it with pork sausage, or better yet, wear a bacon turtleneck,” he said.
This video is from Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, broadcast Sept. 28, 2010.