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Corona Coronavirus funerals: Sri Lanka’s Muslims decry forced cremation

5 min read
Image copyright EPA Image caption Sri Lankan Muslim women wait for a Covid-19 test. Some in the community are fighting cremation rules Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims - a practice forbidden by Islam. The nation's minority Muslim community says they are using the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala's Saroj…
Corona Coronavirus funerals: Sri Lanka’s Muslims decry forced cremation

Corona

corona Sri Lankan ethnic Muslim women wait in a queue for the Covid-19 blood test in Colombo, Sri Lanka, 04 May 2020Image copyright
EPA

Image caption

Sri Lankan Muslim females sit up for a Covid-19 test. Some in the neighborhood are combating cremation principles

Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims – a be aware forbidden by Islam. The nation’s minority Muslim neighborhood says they are the usage of the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala’s Saroj Pathirana.

On 4 Might possibly well simply, Fathima Rinoza, a 44-twelve months-passe mom of three from Sri Lanka’s minority Muslim population, used to be admitted to scientific institution with a suspected case of Covid-19.

Fathima, who lived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, had been suffering from respiratory complications and the authorities feared she had caught the virus.

On the day she used to be admitted to scientific institution, the household used to be “pick up upon” by the authorities, her husband Mohamed Shafeek mentioned.

“The police and navy alongside with officers arrived at our door,” he mentioned. “We absorb been kicked out and they sprayed [disinfectant] in every single location. We absorb been all fearful but they didn’t expose us the relaxation. Even a three-month-passe minute one used to be examined and they took us like canines to the quarantine centre.”

The household used to be held for a night but launched the next day to come and told to quarantine for 2 weeks, Mohamed mentioned. By then, that they had got news that Fathima had died, at the scientific institution, on her have.

Fathima’s adult son used to be asked to lumber to the scientific institution to identify his mom’s body. He used to be told that her body could possibly no longer be returned to the household, he mentioned, as her loss of life used to be linked to Covid-19.

As a replace he used to be compelled to signal papers authorising her cremation, the household mentioned – although under Muslim law cremation is thought of as a violation of the human body.

“He used to be told that her body parts wished to be eliminated for extra tests. Why would they need body parts if she had corona?” mentioned his father Shafeek, who feels the household weren’t fully instructed about what came about.

Image copyright
Mohamed Shafeek

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Fathima and her husband Mohamed with their two daughters

Fathima’s household and others in Sri Lanka’s Muslim neighborhood utter the authorities are violating their rights by forcing them to cremate victims although coronavirus victims could possibly very successfully be buried.

They argue it is basically the most up-to-date step in a sample of discrimination by the majority Sinhalese population. A petition in opposition to the cremation rule has been popular by the nation’s Supreme Court, that can open listening to the case on 13 July.

Many Muslims in Sri Lanka feel they absorb been demonised since April 2019, when Islamists linked to minute-identified local groups targeted high-terminate accommodations and church buildings in Colombo and in the east of the nation, killing greater than 250 folks in a spate of devastating attacks.

Since the loss of life of the first Sri Lankan Muslim from coronavirus on 31 March, some media retail outlets absorb openly blamed the Muslim neighborhood for spreading the disease, although most efficient 11 deaths absorb been officially recorded in the nation.

All 11 bodies, including Muslims, absorb been cremated.

Image copyright
DINUKA LIYANAWATTE

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Rituals associated to burial in Islam are designed to present the body dignity in loss of life

Dr Sugath Samaraweera, the authorities’s chief epidemiologist, told the BBC it used to be authorities policy that all of us that die from Covid-19, as well to those suspected of loss of life from it, are cremated, as burials could possibly contaminate floor drinking water.

Dr Samaraweera mentioned the authorities used to be following expert scientific advice, and making use of the guideline to anyone suspected of loss of life from coronavirus, no matter faith.

“The WHO supplies suggestions for the total world. It’s our accountability to adopt or customise these suggestions upright to our nation,” he mentioned.

Nonetheless Muslim activists, neighborhood leaders and politicians absorb asked the Sri Lankan authorities to think again the decision.

Ali Zahir Moulana, a broken-down minister and senior chief of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress birthday party, mentioned the Muslim neighborhood used to be willing to honest web the guideline “if there is evidence or scientific backing to level to that burial is harmful to public successfully being”. Nonetheless he wondered the science at the help of it, and accused the authorities of pursuing a “darkish political agenda”.

Length in-between guidance published by the WHO in March says victims of coronavirus “could possibly very successfully be buried or cremated”, and would now not mention risks to groundwater.

Image copyright
EPA

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A petition in opposition to the cremation rule has reached the nation’s Supreme Court

On the identical day that Fathima died, 64-twelve months-passe Abdul Hameed Mohamed Rafaideen handed away at his sister’s residence in Colombo. The labourer and father of 4 had been suffering from respiratory difficulties.

His youngest son, Naushad Rafaideen, told the BBC that a neighbour from the majority Sinhala neighborhood died the identical day.

Due to this of lockdown travelling restrictions, local police asked the household to salvage the body of the neighbour, alongside with their father’s body, to the scientific institution.

On the mortuary, the doctor told Naushad he used to be no longer allowed to the touch his father’s body this skill that of the risks of Covid-19, although it wasn’t certain whether the virus used to be the reason for loss of life.

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Naushad Rafaideen

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Happier times in the Rafaideen household. Naushad is in the heart, and his father on basically the most intelligent

Naushad, who can’t be taught, used to be asked to signal some papers which gave permission for his father’s body to be cremated.

He mentioned he wasn’t certain what would occur to him if he didn’t signal, but he feared a backlash in opposition to his household and neighborhood if he refused. He mentioned the Sinhalese household used to be treated in every other case, and allowed to pay respects to their relative at a funeral parlour, though the BBC could possibly no longer independently test this. Most intelligent Naushad and a handful of relatives absorb been allowed to inspire the cremation of his father, he mentioned.

Meanwhile, in relation to six weeks after the loss of life of his companion, Shafeek is no longer certain whether she ever examined obvious for coronavirus, and he’s struggling to come to phrases with out a longer being in a suite to bury her body. One aspect he used to make certain of, he mentioned. “We Muslims attain no longer cremate our ineffective.”

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