Diplomatic dispute over the cremation of a Moroccan


As of: 01/20/2022 3:24 p.m

The body of a Moroccan was cremated in Frankfurt am Main – contrary to Muslim funeral rites and without relatives being informed. The case pulls loudly SWR political and diplomatic circles.

By Eric Beres, SWR, and Nadia Yakine El-Beggar

Zakia Kaichouh from Frankfurt am Main is still horrified: “I’m speechless. You shouldn’t burn a Muslim. My brother was always with my father in the mosque. He would never have wanted it that way. Something like this shouldn’t happen,” she says to the SWR. What happened? Her brother, a 45-year-old Moroccan man who had a mental illness and was living in an assisted-living facility, was hospitalized in December. He passed away on December 21st.

Cremation contradicts Muslim funeral rites

Eight days later, on December 29, his body was cremated in a coffin. However, cremation is considered taboo in Islam. Zakia Kaichouh reports that it was only on January 6 that she and another brother found out about the death and cremation of their loved one by chance from an employee of the dormitory. She and another brother always looked after their relatives. There was contact two weeks before his death.

Moroccan Consulate General calls for clarification

The case is now being discussed not only in the family, but also on social media, in Arabic-language media and even in diplomatic circles. In a statement, the Moroccan Consulate General in Frankfurt am Main spoke of a “blatant violation of the rules”. The honor and dignity of the deceased had been violated. German authorities will now be asked for clarification in order to “guarantee the dignity of all Moroccan citizens”.

The Foreigners’ and Foreigners’ Representation (KAV) of the city of Frankfurt am Main asked the Frankfurt magistrate in an application to clarify why relatives were not previously visited or mosque communities were asked about.

hospital responsible for burial

on SWROn request, the public order office of the city of Frankfurt said that in the case they “were neither active in an advisory nor an ordering capacity”. According to the law, relatives are obliged to “arrange the burial measures.” If someone dies in the hospital and no relatives can be found, then the relevant clinic makes the decision.

Responsible in the case was after SWR-Information of the Sankt-Katharinen-Krankenhaus in Frankfurt. Its managing director, Frank Hieke, announced that one could not comment on the case for data protection reasons. “In general, we try very hard to get information from relatives,” it says. He admits that the lack of visiting opportunities during the corona pandemic also made contact with possible relatives of patients more difficult. All mosques in Frankfurt/M. However, one cannot ask whether a deceased person is known there, even if the denomination is known. In cases where no relatives of the deceased can be found, the hospital has to assume the corresponding funeral costs. Hieke admits that cremation means “the least effort”, but this is not expressly required by the clinic.

But why did no one in the clinic know that the deceased was possibly a person of the Muslim faith? And who exactly ordered the cremation? Neither the funeral home involved nor the clinic wanted to comment on this. To SWR-Information could have played a role in that the clinic had no information about nationality, religious affiliation and relatives when the Moroccan was admitted.

Incident is topic in Parliament

In any case, the case is also making waves in Morocco. According to a report by the Zanqa20 Internet portal, a member of parliament has asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs and Moroccans living abroad to provide clarification. It is a “violation of international treaties” if the families of the deceased are not informed about the responsible consulate. The minister must explain what steps he is taking “to ensure the rights and dignity of Moroccan citizens in their country of residence.”

Only a few weeks ago, the relationship between Germany and Morocco had relaxed somewhat. After months of arguments about issues such as the status of Western Sahara, the Federal Foreign Office under the new Federal Minister, Annalena Baerbock, described the Maghreb state as a “key partner of the EU and Germany in North Africa” ​​on its website. That was well received in Rabat. The attention to the case in Frankfurt could put a strain on relations again.


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