REG 190924 Aassoun graveyard-1569337984366
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Beirut: A four-year-old Syrian boy’s father was asked to dig out his son’s body from the graveyard in Aassoun, a northern Lebanese village, because burials were restricted to Lebanese citizens only.

On September 20, Mohammad, a four-year-old, died after a medical surgery and was buried in Aassoun. His family was asked by a villager from Aassoun to exhume the body and have him buried somewhere else, Gulf News learnt on Tuesday.

“Mohammad died after a surgery in hospital last Friday … we had just buried him after Asr prayer in Aassoun graveyard when a villager [named Abu Rabih] came to us while we were accepting condolences. We were still there accepting condolences when he asked us to transfer the corpse to another graveyard because of space limitations. The gravediggers dug out the body and we buried him at a nearby village,” the boy’s father Ahmad Qassim told Gulf News.

The incident created controversy in Aassoun and the neighbouring villages of the Lebanese northern district of Sir Al Dinneyye, and many activists took to social media to express their condemnation and criticism.

There was an uproar on social media, with users slamming the ‘discriminatory and unacceptable’ incident.

Gulf News spoke to Shaikh Firas Ballout, of the Dar Al Fatwa Sunni authority in northern Lebanon, who said: “What happened is condemnable and unacceptable. Exhumation is forbidden by Sharia and law. The incident could have escalated and caused unnecessary controversy in a place that will forever be a place of coexistence and cohabitation between different nationalities and religions.”

He said the Ministry of Interior officials and religious scholars met with the father on Tuesday in Aassoun, and apologised and explained to him what had happened.

“The person, who asked the family to dig out the body, was apprehended and referred to the authorities. It was agreed that Syrian refugees, who live in Aassoun, will be buried there,” Shaikh Ballout concluded.