‘A huge relief to Muslim community’ | Daily News

‘A huge relief to Muslim community’

A Gazette notice was issued permitting the burial of coronavirus victims on Thursday night (25).

Speaking to the Daily News, former MP M.M. Zuhair PC said that the Government’s decision to permit burials of COVID-19 victims was a huge relief to the Muslim community in Sri Lanka. He said that the Government’s decision to only permit the cremation of COVID-19 victims was understandable as it was a new virus and no one knew how to deal with it. “Understandably, the medical experts were not very clear at that time. But, subsequent investigations and reports, including by the WHO said very clearly that burials will not necessarily lead to the spread of COVID-19. While all citizens wish to have a dignified burial, for Muslims in particular, this is a tremendous relief to them.

They were under tremendous psychological pressure of getting infected with COVID-19 as they were worried of the consequences. I am sure many would have avoided normal treatment if they were suspected cases due to the fear that they may be cremated in case they fall victims to COVID. Now the restoration of the burials will facilitate the burial of Muslims and others who wish to be buried and will take away the people’s fear to seek treatment if they are suspected of having contracted the virus.”

He said that they were worried that this issue should not become a cause for radicalization in the community. “That was causing us much worry far beyond other factors.”

Therefore, he said that the restoration of the burial facilities for COVID-19 victims is a most welcome move by the Health Minister after having recovered from COVID-19 herself.

He also pointed out that the Quarantine Act clearly allows for both options of burial and cremation and said that clearly that provision should not have been removed by the Gazette. “Our view is that that is a violation of the law as well. Hence, we need not have dragged this matter this far and it should have been resolved much earlier. But, its better late than never and we are very grateful and relieved.”

Health Minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi informed party leaders about the decision to permit the burial of coronavirus victims on Thursday (25).

“In the case of burial, the corpse of such person shall be buried in accordance with the directions issued by the Director General of Health Services at a cemetery or place approved by the proper authority under the supervision of such authority,” the Gazette notice states.

The decision had reportedly been taken following clearance given by a Technical Committee.

Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauff Hakeem had also tweeted saying he and his colleagues from several political parties had a pleasant and fruitful discussion with the Pakistani Prime Minister.

“He expressed confidence in the capacity of our Leaders to improve harmony among all Sri Lankans and address their citizens’ grievances with view to foster goodwill among nations,” Hakeem tweeted.

Also commenting on the issue, SJB-MP Mujibur Rahuman said that the lifting of the ban on burials was the result of much agitation by the Muslim community. He said that this issue need not have been allowed to drag on to a point where it reached the UNHRC. “If the Government had listened to the experts earlier and allowed the burials, this matter would not have caused so much resentment and division. In fact, many Muslims voted for the present Government, but with this issue, they are now disgruntled. We also feel that the Pakistani Prime Minister’s visit also had some influence on the Government’s decision to finally allow burials of Covid victims. Anyhow, I am sure all Muslims in this country are relieved that the Government has finally approved burials of COVID deceased,” he said.