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Mass demonstration in Tamil Nadu against Sri Lanka’s mandatory cremation

Muslims in Tamil Nadu protested in solidarity with Sri Lankan Muslims who have been subjected to Sri Lanka’s policy of mandatory cremation despite it breaking their religious customs and going against World Health Organisation guidance.

The protests were held outside the Sri Lankan High Commission and were headed by Professor M.H. Jawahrisha, of Progressive Front on Friday. Demonstrators felt it was a violation of their fundamental rights as a Muslim in Sri Lanka and signed a petition that was handed over to the deputy high commissioner urging him to take action.

A plethora of human rights organisations has spoken out against the ban which they view as discriminatory towards Muslims. Amnesty International maintained that authorities “must respect the right of religious minorities to carry out the final rites of their relatives in accordance with their own traditions unless they can show that restrictions are needed to prevent the spread of COVID-19.” 

For Muslim (and Jewish) communities, cremation is prohibited and a “desecration of the deceased.” Even though the coronavirus has forced funeral workers across the world to adopt the way that those who die are put to rest, very few countries have resorted to cremating the bodies.

Al Jazeera has further reported on the case of Fathima Rinosa, a 44-year-old Muslim woman whose death was unrelated to the coronavirus but was denied a right to burial.

Hilmy Ahamed, vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, told reports that this policy by the government was due to “extremist Buddhist forces” and was intended “to punish the Muslim community”.

He further stated;

"This is part of their racist agenda, where they are telling the rest of the country that 'we will teach the Muslims a lesson'.

Read more from the Colombo Times.

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