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Sri Lankan Muslims demand end to mandatory cremation

Sri Lankan Muslim authorities, such as the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, have called upon the government to end the discriminatory mandate for cremation which goes against World Health Organisation advice (WHO).

The introduction of compulsory cremation on 11 April was intended for victims of COVID-19, however, was unnecessary and disregarded WHO advice which maintained that victims “can be buried or cremated”. The mandating of cremations runs in direct violation of traditional Islamic burial practices.

Al Jazeera reports the case of Zubair Fathima Rinosa, a 44-year-old Muslim woman whose death was unrelated to the coronavirus but was denied a right to burial. There have been 9 deaths caused by this virus, 3 of the victims were Muslim and they were 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 publish 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'.

"There is widespread belief that Muslims did not vote for the current government so [what is happening now to Muslims] is political revenge."

There is considerable concern over the wellbeing of Muslim communities in Sri Lanka given the rising tide of islamophobia. There has been a rise in hate speech directed towards Muslims and the circulation of messages on social media advocating for the boycott of Muslim-owned businesses.

Read more from Al Jazeera.

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