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Sri Lanka: Government makes cremation of those who die of coronavirus compulsory, rejects objections by Muslim groups

The Muslim community has accused the government of 'callous disregard' for religious rituals and the families' wishes.

In an official gazette issued by the Health Minister of Sri Lanka, the govt said that the corpse of the person who has died of or is suspected to have died of Chinese coronavirus will be cremated. The Minister said that the body shall be burned at a temperature of 800-1200 degree Celsius for a period of 45-60 minutes. The Sri Lankan government has rejected the objections of Muslim community who said that cremation violates the Islamic burial rites and is forbidden in Islam.

The Muslim leaders wanted the Sri Lankan government to follow the WHO guidelines which permit both, burial as well as cremation. However, as per the Director General of Health Services, Dr Anil Jasinghe, the ground water level of Sri Lanka is at a much higher level and burying the bodies pose a critical risk of spreading the virus by burying the bodies. He also emphasised that the risk will be increased as burying will take more time.

However, the Muslim community has accused the government of ‘callous disregard’ for religious rituals and the families’ wishes. Of 21-million population in Sri Lanka, Muslims represent 10% of the total population.

As of now over 200 people have tested positive for coronavirus on the island nation and the country is on an indefinite lockdown. On Sunday, a year after the Jihadis attacked the church on Easter in 2019, the country’s Roman Catholic Church said that it forgave the suicide bombers.

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