After years of opposition Muslim cemetery gets final approval

After years of opposition and legal battles, a Muslim cemetery in Dakota County can now start to perform traditional ceremonies on the property.

The Castle Rock Township board of supervisors approved a conditional use permit Tuesday, eight years after the property was purchased.

A proposal for the Al Maghfirah Cemetery was rejected by the board in 2017, prompting the Minnesota Chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-Minnesota) to sue the township. Despite winning that lawsuit, the proposal still had to go before the board Tuesday night before operations could begin.

The cemetery has been targeted twice since being purchased, including as recently as 2021.

"We have been targeted multiple times. Our buildings have been damaged severely. Hundreds in thousands in damage," said Jaylani Hussein of CAIR. "We know those people are still out there but the city and the majority of the residents said no to hate tonight and said yes to this beautiful community."

Hussein said ceremonies and burials will not be performed on the 70-acre property for several more months, as the buildings need to be upgraded and brought back up to code.