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The Media Review Network is concerned at the disintegration of democracy in Sri Lanka and it being replaced by dictatorial governance especially in its approach to its dealing with the Corona Virus.

Recently two Muslim patients died of Covid-19 infection in Sri Lanka. Against the wishes of the grieving families and their religious convictions, the government of Sri Lanka proceeded to cremate the deceased.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines allow for the deceased to be either buried or cremated. Despite these guiding principles, the Government of the Indian Ocean Island insisted that the corpses of the deceased be cremated and not buried according to Islamic rites.

Much to the outrage of the Muslim population, the state’s initial position to allow Muslim victims the traditional Muslim burial has been reversed.

The MRN is mindful that the pandemic is a global crisis affecting all human beings. We also recognise that extraordinary measures are required to combat the virus. This is no time for focussing on cultural and religious differences. The virus does not care about our ethnic or divine variances.

However it is crucial to remind the Sri Lankan authorities that since the WHO protocols do not insist on cremation as the only method of internment, they need to be respectful of Muslim burial rites.

The Muslim community sees this as part of a racist itinerary of the extremist Buddhist forces that seem to hold the government to ransom.

A section of the media has also been accused of running anti-Muslim hysteria and pointing fingers at Muslims for the spread of the virus. However some media reports have also expressed concern at the anti-Islamic sentiments and anti-Muslim hate speech that has raised their ugly heads in Sri Lanka.

Both Covid-19 and  racism are killer contagions that sicken anyone who catches them. Ironically, we lock down on one, but open floodgates to the other.

The MRN reminds the Sri Lankan Government that the only way to save the Sri Lankan nation is to improve immunity against both contagions as individuals and a nation. The media should be active and responsible participants in helping the recovery process.


Issued by:

Ibrahim Vawda

Media Review Network.