World News – AU – Muslim Council of Great Britain challenges Covid cremation in Sri Lanka


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country insists that all people who die of viruses be cremated, even if it goes against religious beliefs

The Muslim Council of Britain is contesting a legal challenge to the Sri Lankan government’s policy of cremating all people who die of Covid, even if they violate their religious beliefs.

The insistence on cremation has caused great distress among the country’s Muslim minority. Islam dictates that the dead must be buried.

World Health Organization guidelines allow the burial or cremation of people who die of Covid, but the Sri Lankan government adopted a mandatory cremation policy in March.

Earlier this month, a 20-day-old baby who died of Covid was cremated against the family’s wishes. The child’s father said he couldn’t stand to witness the cremation.

« I can’t go to a place where they burn my baby. My friends and family asked the authorities how to proceed with the cremation if neither parent signed a document giving their consent. They said because the baby is a Covid-19 positive patient, they can be cremated, ”MFM Fahim told Al Jazeera.

Some Muslim and Christian families tried to challenge government policies in court. However, the Supreme Court dismissed the case in early December.

A task force set up by the Muslim Council of Britain has written to the Sri Lankan High Commissioner in Great Britain calling for an immediate reversal of the policy of “forced cremation” and its impact on Muslim and Christian communities. The MCB said it will also « take the necessary legal action to end this violation ». .

Tayab Ali, a partner at the London law firm Bindmans, said: “The forced cremation of Muslim bodies in Sri Lanka is a grave violation of the religious freedom of a minority. It is against international law to delay the timely return of a family member’s body for funeral unless there is good reason to do so.

« In this case, the Sri Lankan authorities deviated from the WHO recommendation on the safe treatment of a corpse during the coronavirus pandemic without justification.

Furthermore, the Sri Lankan Supreme Court’s swift and unfounded denial of the deceased’s family members leaves no domestic appeal against what some have described as the ongoing persecution of the Muslim minority in Sri Lanka. ”

Sri Lanka is predominantly Buddhist, with around 9% of the population being Muslim and around 7% being Christian. The country had more than 25. 000 cases of Covid-19 and 124 deaths, including more than 50 Muslims cremated.

Human rights activists say the cremation policy is part of an ongoing attack by the Sinhala Buddhist majority government, led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, on the country’s Muslim community.

Rajapaksa was elected on a wave of anti-Muslim and persistent Buddhist sentiment last year after Islamist militants committed suicide in churches and luxury hotels at Easter last April, killing 267 people.

Government, Cremation, Government of Sri Lanka, Muslim Council of Great Britain, Coronavirus

World News – AU – Muslim Council of Great Britain Challenges Forced Cremations of Covid in Sri Lanka