NEWS

Last cremation obstacle goes

Greece took the last step yesterday toward permitting and creating the facilities so that people who choose so can be cremated, which until recently had been banned. In a joint decision by the Health, Environment and Interior ministries, the final framework that allows for the creation of crematoriums has been approved. The legislation calls for such facilities to be built next to cemeteries and comply with specific regulations on emissions, while municipalities will be responsible for running them. As regards the tough emission limits that have to be observed by these facilities, the Greek government is relying on already existing limits that are being used in Germany, where cremation has been allowed since 1934. The municipalities that manage the crematoriums will have the sole right to issue a license for someone to be cremated. They will also be able to fulfill a family's wishes to scatter a loved one's ashes in a specific place, such as at sea. «Our main aim is to be in line with international practice in developed countries, where the state gives citizens the right to choose how they are buried, in accordance with their religious or ideological preferences,» said Environment Minister Tina Birbili. Although cremation has been allowed in the UK since 1884 and France in 1887, Greek lawmakers only approved legislation in 2006 allowing for the cremation of the dead to take place in Greece for the first time in the country's history. The new law permitted the cremation of people who request this method instead of burial as long as their religion also allows it. The law still forbids cremation for Orthodox Christians. The Church of Greece opposes the practice for believers, arguing that Orthodox traditions only allow for burial. The previous law also banned cremation for other faiths. This made matters particularly difficult for Muslims in Greece who had to send their dead abroad to be cremated.

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