After Worldwide Condemnation, Sri Lanka Allows Burials For COVID-19 Muslim Victims

The United Nations (UN) also raised concerns with the government.

(Al Jazeera)

Sri Lanka will finally begin giving authorization for Muslims and Catholics who die of COVID-19 to be buried.

This was following an outcry over the government’s decision to cremate all those who died of coronavirus.


The Sri Lankan Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa, gave the assurance on Wednesday in response to a question from a lawmaker in Parliament.

Sri Lanka made compulsory the cremation of all people who die from COVID-19, saying the virus in human remains could potentially contaminate underground water.

Muslims and Catholics have protested against the rule over the past year, calling it unscientific and insensitive to religious beliefs.

The United Nations (UN) also raised concerns with the government.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and Sri Lankan doctors’ groups have said COVID-19 victims can either be cremated or buried.

Sri Lanka is a mainly Buddhist country where it is customary for Buddhists and Hindus to cremate the dead.

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Muslim lawmaker Rishard Bathiudeen said while he was pleased with Rajapaksa’s assurance, the authorities should implement it by withdrawing the mandatory cremation rule.

“Many people have been already cremated, and their families are living in great agony. I’m happy that they showed some compassion even at this stage, but it has to be implemented soon as people are dying every day,” said Bathiudeen.

Pakistan welcomes Sri Lanka’s decision.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Imran Khan welcomed his Sri Lankan counterpart Mahinda Rajapaksa’s assurance given in Sri Lankan Parliament allowing Muslims to bury those who died from COVID-19.

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