OIC Statement and drowning local politicians clutching at straws’: UAE Embassy responds

We wish to draw your kind attention to the center-page article of The Island, dated 15th May 2020, written by Rohana R. Wasala under the title ‘OIC Statement and drowning local politicians clutching at straws’.

It is quite obvious that the motive behind this article is none other than inciting racism and hatred against the Muslims of Sri Lanka and ridiculing the worldwide Muslim community. the matter which drew our immediate attention and concern is the reference made to a report published in the UAE, pertaining to a directive issued by the Ruler of Sharjah not to allow the burial of any coronavirus victims in the Al-Saj’a area of Sharjah.

The writer wrongfully attributes this directive to what he describes as the acceptance of most sensible Muslims of cremation as a scientific imperative which should be accommodated in the prevailing situation. He goes on to boldly misinterpret the directive of the Ruler of Sharjah as though it was a directive allowing the cremation of the dead bodies of coronavirus victims, with the aim of misleading the general readership.

It is outrageous and unacceptable that this reference is made even after this Mission issued an official statement dated 6th April 2020, very clearly refuting claims made by some local electronic and social media, and clarifying that the above-mentioned directive by the Ruler of Sharjah was not a total banning of the burial of COVID-19 victims and that the UAE has not allowed the bodies of such victims to be cremated.

The Embassy wishes to stress that the United Arab Emirates, like all other Islamic countries, follows the ideal and tolerant teachings of the Islamic religion, and that the bodies of all Muslims who died from Coronavirus have been buried according to the Islamic law.

We further wish to draw your attention to the joint letter addressed to His Excellency Gotabaya Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka by the Ambassadors of the OIC member nations accredited to Sri Lanka, dated 10 April 2020, where it has been pointed out that there is no conclusive scientific evidence anywhere that suggests the possibility of the spread of Coronavirus through burial. It is also reiterated that scientists, public health functionaries and medical practitioners across countries affirm that the WHO Guidelines takes into full account public health considerations, and carefully and adequately provides for individuals and communities to make a choice in respect of burial or cremation, in keeping with the person’s faith.

Please see the official statement issued by this Mission concerning the burial of COVID-19 victims copy of which is attached herewith.

"The Embassy of UAE in Colombo is absolutely dismayed and concerned by the news item published in the local Sinhala news websites and the social media concerning a directive issued by the Ruler of Sharjah on Friday 3 April 2020, regarding the burial of the victims of Corona in UAE.

"His Highness Sheikh Dr. Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, directed the authorities in Sharjah not to bury any of the victims of the new coronavirus disease (COVID- 19) in Al Saja'a, due to the lack of space, and that they be buried in another specified area.

"The directives of His Highness aimed at refuting a video clip tendentiously posted saying that burial of COVID- 19 victims are taking place in the said area.

"UAE has not banned the burial of those who die of coronavirus, nor has our country instructed that the bodies be cremated. We believe that a deceased person’s body should be treated with dignity, whatever the cause of death may be, without prejudice or discrimination.

"It is shocking to note that this news item has been manipulated and maliciously interpreted, as though it was a directive to cremate the bodies of the victims and not to bury them, and is being published widely in the local media, in a manner that could incite racism and hatred against the Muslims of Sri Lanka.

"The Embassy strongly condemns this deliberate attempt, and urges the relevant authorities in Sri Lanka to take necessary steps to remove the said news items from all websites immediately, and to rectify the misinformation by issuing an appropriate clarification."



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