ECONOMYNEXT – A leading Civil Society activist from the Muslim community is calling on members of his community to do their best to prevent the radicalisation of their youth due to the enforced cremation of Muslims who die of Covid 19.
Hilmy Ahamed, Vice President of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka issued a plea this week to Muslim parents to talk to their children and pray that there will be a solution.
“There is no doubt in my mind now that this whole cremation denial is a ploy to radicalize our youth and get them to do something rash,” Ahamed wrote in his message.
“The slightest provocation from Muslims will trigger a mass riot which will destroy the Muslim economy, livelihood, wealth and property. Please talk to your children, youth around and peers not to fall for their ploy” he warned.
Ahamed asked Muslims to use your mosques to conduct daily prayers “seeking Allah’s divine intervention not just to give us our burial rights but to destroy the ones deliberately blocking it.”
His plea came as Youth for Justice a coalition of youth-led organisations called on the government to revise its ongoing policy of mandatory cremations for COVID deaths, which is causing tremendous hurt and distress to many Sri Lankans.
“This distress is experienced by our Muslim and Christian brothers and sisters, with the weight being more on the Muslim community as their faith prohibits outright the cremation of the deceased,” a statement from the organisation said.
They pointed out that in the past week, “Authoritative voices from within the scientific community have made statements to suggest that cremations are not mandatory for COVID deaths. The Sri Lanka Medical Association (SLMA), the College of Community Physicians of Sri Lanka (CCPSL) as well as world-renowned Sri Lankan Professor Malik Peiris and Member of Parliament Professor Tissa Vitharana have publicly announced that based on the available scientific evidence, burials of the COVID-19 deceased can be permitted.”
It added that most importantly, “the recent report by the expert panel of virologists, microbiologists and immunologists led by Professor Jennifer Perera has recommended both cremation and burial for the COVID-19 deceased, by adhering to safety precautions.”
“In the post-war years, we have all worked in various capacities to engage youth from all ethnic and religious groups, and walks of life, to build mutual trust and healing. The policy of mandatory cremations has generated growing unrest among communities and can have serious implications for Sri Lanka’s future, with developments that could derail the work we have done with young people in the last decade,” it said.
“We are the generation that was brought up amidst a brutal civil war and suffered its consequences to varied ways. We believe that if necessary steps are not taken to rectify the situation immediately by allowing the Muslim and Christian communities to perform their last rites in line with their religious beliefs, the youth of this country will have to suffer the repercussions of these decisions which appear to be both short-sighted and racially motivated. We do not wish for the cycles of violence that Sri Lanka has already witnessed to repeat themselves for another generation as a result of the decisions taken by our leaders in responding to the pandemic.”
(Colombo, January 8, 2021)
Reported by Arjuna Ranawana