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1663 Wheat Hill Road, Sidney Center, New York, 13839

(607) 369-4816

Bismillah ir Rahman ir Rahim,

In the Name of Allah, the most Merciful, the most Compassionate,

We, the Osmanli Naksibendi Hakkani Dergahi, would like to make the following statement
concerning the cemetery located on our property in Sidney Center, NY:

We are a community of Sufi Muslims who belong to the distinguished Naksibendi spiritual
order. Our Sheik here, Sheik Abdul Kerim al-Kibbrisi is the deputy of our Grandsheik Nazim al-
Hakkani al-Kibrissi in Cyprus. We moved here in 2002 order to establish a small intentional
community devoted to contemplation and prayer, to lead the spiritual life of Islam, to lead a
simple, quiet life close to the earth.

We established ourselves as a religious non-profit 501 c3 organization. The cemetery we have

on our land we decided to set up in 2005 shortly after we buried our Sheik’s nephew who died
young from muscular dystrophy in the closest Muslim cemetery in Binghamton. The visiting of
cemeteries and praying for the dead, especially loved ones, is an important part of our faith,
especially in our tariqat, or Sufi spiritual order.
So in 2005 we consulted with the then (not current) Sidney Town Clerk, and the then and
current Sidney Town and Delaware County Code Official Dale Downin (contact info below)
who visited our proposed site and wrote a letter stating that it was an approved use according
to Sidney zoning law :

The Sidney Town Zoning law specifically permits new cemeteries on private land as long as
the parcel contains at least 15 contiguous acres. We own over 60 acres. NY State Law
explicitly says that the State does not regulate private or religious cemeteries.
We made arrangements with a local funeral director to handle any burial services and
paperwork for which a NYS licensed funeral director is necessary.

Two bodies are presently buried in our cemetery. Our brother Amir Celoski died at the age of
28 in a car accident in New Jersey in Novemeber 2009. Much beloved in his hometown, his
body was escorted by three Passaic, NJ police cars. In July of 2010, our brother Yunus
Tanveer Iqbal died at the age of 30 after many years of suffering stomach cancer. In each case
the burials were conducted with a licensed funeral director and the burial permits were filed
with the Town Clerk.

Having gone through all these steps, we were shocked to learn from friends in town that the
Town of Sidney’s Board of Supervisors voted unanimously in August to have the Town
Attorney, Joseph Ermeti, file a lawsuit against us to have us disinter the two bodies buried in
our cemetery and cease burying any more. We were never contacted in any way by the Town
Board about this. When we confronted the Town Board about this we were told we had to
1663 Wheat Hill Road, Sidney Center, New York, 13839
(607) 369-4816

speak to the Town Attorney (who has not responded to anyone). When questioned, not one
Supervisor had an understanding of the basic facts of our situation or were even aware of the
Town law permitting cemeteries. Since then, we have found out that apparently they are
pressing ahead with a lawsuit on the basis of a state real estate law that states that one cannot
mortgage a cemetery. We have since the beginning had a mortgage on the property. We
weren’t aware of any such law and, while it is not clear that this law even applies to us, we are
speaking with an attorney on ways to arrange everything in compliance with the law.

It saddens us to see the Town Board act in such a way. The fact that this occurred at the same
time that some in politics and the media were manufacturing the issue of the so-called “Ground
Zero Mosque” is telling. While we have experienced many acts of hatred towards us over the
years, we have always turned our cheeks. We have gone out of our way to build ties with the
community. Two of our people are members of the local volunteer fire department and EMS
squads. We have been involved in community improvement projects and have attended
Interfaith gatherings at local churches. Local priests, rabbis and pastors have been our dinner
guests at our center. We are open to everyone and seek friendship with all people of goodwill.

Many of our members are native-born Americans and our Sheik is a naturalized American
citizen who has been in this country since 1976. So we know that the bigoted, racist element of
America is a minority and we have been pleased to see the overwhelmingly supportive
response of so many people to this issue. Hopefully, the Sidney Town board will act now
responsibly and sensibly and we can leave this nonsense behind us.

All media inquiries can be directed to Hans Hass,, 607-369-4816

Contact info:

Sidney Town Supervisor Robert McCarthy: website:

Phone: 607-237-3155

Sidney Town Attorney Joseph Ermeti: 607-563-8910

Sidney Town Clerk: Lisa French 607-561-2334