Date: 25th January 2021
For most people, the effects of COVID-19 are already painful enough and the fear of contracting the virus, spreading it to others and the possible loss of a loved one is really genuine and realistic clouds looming over the heads of hundreds of millions of people. But for Sri Lanka’s Muslims, another fear also has to be added: the fear of being prevented from being laid to rest in accordance with their religious beliefs.
Despite the World Health Organization’s (WHO) guidelines which permit both burials and cremations for Covid-19 victims, in March, Sri Lanka, a Buddhist majority country, made cremation mandatory for people who have died or are suspected to have died from the highly infectious disease.
As Sri Lankan health authorities insist all victims must be cremated – even if they are Muslims, who traditionally bury their dead, or Christians, who still officially prefers the traditional interment of the deceased rather than their cremation – indignation is igniting again in a country just recently shaken by the intensification of inter-religious and inter-ethnic tensions.
AMAN, which is committed to promoting inter-faith dialogue, is organizing a webinar that aims at addressing this very sensitive issue.
The speakers will discuss the repercussions of the mandatory cremation of Covid-19 infected deceased on the relations between Buddhists, Christians and Muslims in Sri Lanka, and will also highlight the efforts taken to contrast the deterioration of these relations and how the current tension can be transformed and used as a positive drive for a stronger social cohesion.