Burn us after death, atheists plead to Istanbul municipality
by Daily Sabah
ISTANBULNov 25, 2015 - 12:00 am GMT+3
by Daily Sabah
Nov 25, 2015 12:00 am
The fledgling Atheism Association has launched a petition for the introduction of cremation in Turkey, where getting cremated is not a popular practice among the predominantly Muslim population.
Founded last year, the association that brings together a small number of non-believers in the country started its first campaign for cremation in Istanbul and is determined to take their case to other cities as well.
Cremation is legal and there was even a crematory in the city up until the 1930s, but because even atheists prefer a Muslim or Christian burial in the country, it was closed down shortly after its opening.
The Atheism Association says it is up to the municipalities to determine burial types and municipalities have turned down requests for the establishment of crematories due to "low demand."
In an online petition titled "We Don't Have To Be Buried," the association claims there is a large number of people seeking cremation after death in Turkey. "In Turkey, people are buried not according to their wishes but in accordance with what the municipalities want," the petition says. Cemeteries in the country are operated by municipalities, though the preference of burial depends on the will of the deceased or requests by their families. The petition points to a law that authorizes municipalities with setting up crematories but notes that most municipalities avoided the practice on the grounds of "low demand." "They will not introduce cremation though it is not an expensive or difficult practice unless we show them there is a high demand by our petition," the association said in an online statement. Nearly 5,000 people have already signed the petition so far.
It remains to be seen whether the plea for cremation would drum up more support. It might be a viable option according to comments on social media in a country where finding a proper grave plot is a major challenge due to high prices. An empty plot costs as much as TL 18,000 ($6,500) in Istanbul where a single grave is priced at TL 5,000.