Mufti Taqi Usmani praises Imran Khan’s efforts for Lankan Muslims

By: News Desk      Published: 02:45 PM, 27 Feb, 2021
Mufti Taqi Usmani praises Imran Khan’s efforts for Lankan Muslims

Renowned Muslim scholar Mufti Taqi Usmani has thanked Prime Minister Imran Khan for his efforts after which the authorities in Sri Lanka reversed their law for the cremation of Muslim bodies.

In a tweet uploaded on Saturday, Mufti Taqi Usmani said “The law of cremation of Muslim bodies in Sri Lanka that raised strong reaction among Ummah is now withdrawn with the special efforts made by PM Imran Khan before and during his visit to Sri Lanka. Congratulations to the Muslims.”

On Friday last, Sri Lanka ended forced cremations of people who have died of coronavirus, after visiting Prime Minister Imran Khan urged Colombo to respect the funeral rites of the island's minority Muslims.

The Sri Lankan government first banned burials in April over concerns -- which experts said were baseless -- by influential Buddhist monks that the practice could contaminate groundwater and spread the virus.

The policy was decried by members of the South Asian nation's Muslim community who constitute 10 percent of the 21 million population.

While health minister Pavithra Wanniarachchi did not give a reason in her announcement reversing the ban, official sources said Imran Khan had raised the subject with both President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa during his trip earlier this week.

Dozens of demonstrators had used Imran Khan's visit as an opportunity to call attention to the Sri Lankan government's disregard for Islamic burial customs and carried a mock coffin.

In response to the policy change, Imran Khan thanked his Sri Lankan counterparts. "I... welcome the Sri Lankan govt's official notification allowing the burial option for those dying of Covid 19," he said on Twitter.

The 57-member Organisation of Islamic Cooperation had also raised the forced cremation policy at the United Nations in Geneva this week.

Traditionally, Muslims bury their dead facing Makkah. Sri Lanka's majority Buddhists, who are strong backers of the current government, are typically cremated, as are Hindus.

In December, authorities ordered the cremation of at least 19 Muslim Covid-19 victims, including a baby, after their families refused to claim the bodies from a hospital morgue.

Muslim community leaders say more than half the country's 459 Covid-19 victims were from the Muslim minority. They attribute the disproportionate number of fatalities to a fear of seeking treatment, and in particular, to the fear of being cremated should they die of the disease.