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Asylum seeker funerals anger relatives. -

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Families of victims of the Christmas Island boat disaster are angry that funerals will not follow
muslim burial traditions.


ALI MOORE, PRESENTER: Two months after the Christmas Island boat disaster, the first funerals are
about to be held for those killed in the shipwreck.

Families of some of the victims are angry the funerals will not follow Muslim burial traditions.

John Stewart reports on the latest chapter in the Christmas Island tragedy.

JOHN STEWART, REPORTER: Oday Librahimy has been waiting for two months to bury his eight- month old
niece Zahra who died in the Christmas Island boat tragedy in December last year.

Baby Zahra's mother and five-year-old brother were also on the boat. Their bodies have never been

ODAY LIBRAHIMY, VICTIMS' RELATIVE: You make me and my family very upset, you know. You make me feel
(inaudible) my brother, he thinking every day, which day (inaudible). Two months - very long time.

JOHN STEWART: Oday's brother Madian has been detained on Christmas Island since arriving in
Australia in April last year. Tomorrow he will also attend the funeral.

The family is angered that the ceremony will not follow Muslim burial traditions.

Bodies in Muslim funerals are usually washed at a mosque and buried in a cloth without a casket,
traditions which the family say have been ignored by the Federal Government.

JAMAL DAOUD, SOCIAL JUSTICE NETWORK: It's not only to see the body only, but to wash the body, to
clean the body, you know, and to say goodbye to the body, and this is very important.

JOHN STEWART: Some relatives believe the Immigration Department has not allowed the families to
view the bodies to stop them seeing the condition of the victims, something they say would shame
the Federal Government.

JAMAL DAOUD: We understand that the bodies could be in very bad situation and with a lot of them
decomposed or lost and this is what the Government wants to hide.

JOHN STEWART: But a spokesman for the Immigration Department says, "Muslim religious
representatives have been consulted at every step and cultural sensitivities have been considered
at all times. Regarding the issue of open caskets, on advice from the Imams we consulted, it was
determined that it would not be appropriate to follow these processes. It would be insensitive and
traumatic to the families of the bereaved to go into further detail."

Tomorrow's funerals will involve both Muslim and Christian burials. Some families were so concerned
about the funerals they decided to send bodies back to Iraq to be buried in a proper religious

JAMAL DAOUD: It seems that the Government were more happy to even to pay more money to send it to
Iraq, but not to follow symbolic procedures of Muslim burial, you know?

JOHN STEWART: The funerals are being held in Sydney tomorrow morning.

John Stewart, Lateline.