Covid-19 when Sri Lanka expects National Cooperation – Muslims demand exclusive burial rights

Coronavirus does not discriminate. It treats all equally. Rich-poor-Old-young, it doesn’t care if you live in West-East, North-South, the virus doesn’t care whether you are Sinhalese Tamil Muslim or Burgher or whether you are Buddhist Hindu, Islam or Christian/Catholic/Born Again. Virtually every country in the world is affected, close to 50,000 people already dead and Sri Lanka has also seen its 4th death and no one is certain when it will all end. This enemy is far worse than the LTTE terrorists that plagued the nation for 30 years or the jihadi terror attack of 21 April 2019. We do not know what this enemy looks like, when it will enter our system and once it has entered what it has in store for us. We do know that with precautions taken we can come out of it but without precautions taken we are sure of fatalities. In such a scenario of uncertainty when authorities need the support and cooperation of the citizens it is more than selfish for a segment of people to demand only their needs be catered to by the State. Holding placards ‘minority rights’ ‘freedoms’ ‘religious rights’ to justify their demands at this volatile juncture is not what the Nation expects to see from a community claiming to support National interest. This is not what the nation expects from any community in such a fragile and vulnerable situation the country is in. In a National crisis support cannot come tied to bargains or threats.  


Every ethnic group or religion have their customs and rituals when it comes to death and thus far every citizen of Sri Lanka has had no issues in carrying out these customs/rituals.


Buddhists have numerous rituals related to the death of a loved one. Hindus likewise also have their own sets of rituals. Christians also have their customs while Catholics have their own plot to bury their dead. Why is it that no Catholic is making demands to bury their covid-19 dead? In Italy most of the early cases of covid-19 deaths were cremated and disposed of as early as possible. Perhaps family members had no time to even come to the hospital or chose not to come to the hospital in fear of contamination. What Catholics are not demanding considering the larger picture why are Muslims being so selfish for the dead ignoring the risk to the lives of the living?


In fact, before Sri Lanka’s first Muslim corona-victim was cremated the authorities had asked 2 members of the family to be present but no one came and it shows how much even the family would have feared contamination. – concrete the site… what will they come up with next! How fair is this?


But, the country is in a different situation. We are facing a pandemic hitting all nations of the world, no one really has answers for covid-19 and everyone is only experimenting. But the objective of everyone from the State to the health work to the armed forces to the street cleaner is to ensure no one’s life is jeopardized. In times of uncertainty, the State has to think of the worst case scenario & prepare rules to protect the living. The priority is the living and not the dead.


All of us are carrying customs and rituals passed down over centuries but none of us can claim to practice all in the same manner done during the cave day periods. So if we have fine-tuned the customs then we can certainly fine-tune our thinking into accepting what suits a national & global calamity.


Anyone who has died from covid-19 has departed but should we create situations where more and more people join the dead? This is not what we want to happen. If by negligence the State acts irresponsibly without thinking of the living, the people will turn against the State & blame the State. None of those now demanding exclusive burial will take accountability for their actions that may have pressurized the State to change its decision. But no state can or should change decisions to make one community happy against the risk likely to accrue to the rest of the communities.


The people demanding burials of Muslims must answer

  • Are those making demands willing to personally wash the body of the diseased victim?
  • Are those making demands willing to jeopardize one’s own living relations to prove a point of religious right/ritual?
  • Are those making demands willing to place the entire Nation in danger just to demand apply political correctness?


Burials & Islamic Suicide bombers

99% of terrorist suicide bombers are Muslim. They get virtually cremated during the suicide bombing itself. So what is the theory here? The suicide bombers who killed themselves along with 250 others on Easter Sunday in 2019 did not get any burial send off with Islamic rituals. Of course some would jump to say the comparison is incorrect however what happened was the burning of the body of the suicide bomber and many commit suicide to become martyrs of Allah.


Cremations from Covid-19 of Muslims

Argentina cremated its first Jewish victim. Mumbai/India cremated its first Muslim covid-19 victim on 1st April. Israel announced mandatory cremations.

While a Muslim cleric Wasim Rizvi has backed precautions over faith saying ‘cremate, don’t bury Muslim coronavirus victims’ but his comments have caused uproar.


The Governments stand on coronavirus has nothing to do with reconciliation programmes, National unity or National harmony. This is about a disease which is a contagious pandemic which no one knows how to control and authorities are now only able to curtail and contain the situation by keeping people in isolation & quarantine.


Therefore, when the State takes these odds & decides to cremate all dead victims of covid-19, all citizens must comply whether they like it or not. There is no requirement to be explaining scientific reasoning, or graphically showing the impact of endangering water resources, flora & fauna. People should have commonsense enough to realize the dangers of covid-19 and feel happy that the Government has taken a decision with the interest of all citizens in mind.


The decision by the State regarding covid-19 has nothing to do with you showing political allegiance to the State by agreeing with the decision or opposing against the State to show political opposition, or expecting minorities to make counter demands just to showcase voice of the minority community. This is certainly not the time to picking pages, clauses or lines from the country’s constitution to prove a legal point. The decision was taken by the State considering public health of the living (humans, animals and flora/fauna) Constitution only gives rights & freedoms to individual not communities.

No persons’ rights or freedoms can impede on the rights & freedoms of another – that is the golden rule!

Decisions cannot be taken on emotions & must be taken in the best interest of Sri Lanka.  


The entire world is in shock & fear – everything has changed. Shaking hands is just as deadly as an automatic weapon, to show one’s love we have to keep a distance from loved ones.


Nature has reminded man again that we are only guests on this planet & we cannot contaminate it any further.


This is why it becomes necessary to cremate the dead & kill the virus which may remain in the body of the deceased.


Ask not what your country can do for you – ask what you can do for your country,”


This is not the time to be playing petty politics. Everyone is suffering some form of agony and no one’s agony is more than any others. Covid-19 should have taught us that. Every death is sad for every family, community & country but no community can demand or should demand special privileges for itself.

The most sensible and logical way for Muslims to ensure no Muslim is cremated is to abide by the covid-19 guidelines set out by the Govt – self-isolate, quarantine, social distancing and adhering to the curfew & other measures adopted. By flouting these … people are only asking for trouble and inviting dangers.

There are plenty waiting to fish in muddy waters searching for opportunities to catch a topic and run to Geneva with crocodile tears on behalf of the Muslims & their burial rites. Muslims in Sri Lanka to spite the decision regarding cremation don’t take Sri Lanka into another witch hunt and waste valuable time to rebuild Sri Lanka.





Shenali D Waduge




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