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Monday Mar 23 2020
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Muslims in UK face cremation of coronavirus victims


LONDON: Muslims will be forced to cremate the dead bodies of their loved ones if the new Coronavirus Bill is approved by the British Parliament. Cremation of dead bodies is against the values of the Islamic faith and has caused an outcry across the Muslim community in the UK.

According to the draft, SCHEDULE 27, Part 2 relating to “disposal of bodies which includes removal of the deceased's wishes and enforced cremations”, Muslims will be forced to go against their religious values of burying their dead.

Labour’s Naz Shah MP has opposed this section of the bill and is currently lobbying other MPs to help protect the religious values of both Muslims and Jews of the UK. She said, "I am aware that there is concern in regard to burials, especially from those from religious communities. I have tabled with cross-party colleagues an Amendment to the Emergency Coronavirus Bill, to ensure if local authorities reach their capacity, they do not proceed to cremate the deceased from faith backgrounds automatically, without the consultation of family/legal guardians and/or local faith institutions. This will be particularly pertinent to Muslim and Jewish communities whose faiths strongly oppose cremation."

The MP from Bradford West will table the amendment to this bill on Parliament on Monday. The amendment reads, Insert 5(d): "In respect of sub-paragraphs 5 (a), (b), (c) where a deceased is to be cremated and it goes against their religious belief the designated authority must consult the next of kin or Power of Attorney or the relevant local faith institution in so far as reasonably possible to find a suitable alternative before proceeding with the cremation"

Various other members of Parliament are supporting this amendment including but not limited to Wes Streeting MP, Steve Baker MP, Mohammed Yasin MP, Imran Khan MP and Christian Wakeford MP.

Muslim organisations including Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, The British Board of Scholars and Imams and Wifaqul Ulema have also strongly opposed these measures in a joint statement.

They said: "We urgently call upon all legislators to carefully consider an amendment to the Coronavirus Bill to ensure that a suitable alternative to cremation is diligently considered in cases of extreme emergencies. We support the amendment to the Coronavirus Bill tabled by Naz Shah MP.

"We strongly urge legislators to maintain Britain's commitment to the fundamentals of Human Rights and Freedom of Religion. The religious beliefs of British people must be respected even in the most difficult circumstances.”

The organisations also assured the government that the Muslim communities have built a thorough network teams to manage the emergency regarding burials.