A Canadian town has opposed a zoning change that would allow a Muslim cemetery to be built.

In a referendum held on Sunday in Saint-Apollinaire, a Canadian town with population of about 5,000 located outside Quebec City.

The zoning change was rejected by 19 nays, whereas in received 16 yeses.

The Quebec Islamic Cultural Centre had proposed the cemetery, which was the site of a shooting that killed six people and injured 19 earlier this year.

“We never thought people could oppose the installation of a cemetery,” the centre's president Mohamed Labidi told Radio-Canada. “What are they afraid of?”

A plot of land was purchased by the Islamic cultural centre in a wooded area next to an existing cemetery after the shooting. The only Muslim cemetery in Quebec is in Laval, hours from Quebec City.

Muslims and civil-rights activists across Canada has strongly criticized the town’s decision to oppose the cemetery.

The town’s mayor supported the cemetery, saying he fears his town’s reputation has been hurt.

“They do not know these people so they base their decisions on hearsay,” Mayor Bernard Ouellet told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.

Opponents went door to door to gather signatures to call for a referendum, as building the cemetery would require a minor zoning change.