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The government in Sri Lanka has withdrawn a controversial cremation obligation for confirmed Covid deaths and suspected cases. The health ministry of the island state said this on Friday. The government had previously argued that burying corona dead could pollute groundwater and spread the disease. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), there is no scientific basis for this.

The controversial ruling had particularly disturbed the Muslim minority, who normally do not cremate their dead. It makes up around ten percent of the population of the predominantly Buddhist country. Muslim members of parliament said, for example, that in Islam fire is associated with hell.

Accordingly, Muslims had protested against the obligation to cremate in recent months. The United Nations Human Rights Department had recently drawn attention to the suffering of both Muslims and Christians in the country because of the rule.

Buddhist monks, who enjoy a lot of influence in Sri Lanka, had asked the government, however, not to comply with the Muslims’ wishes under any circumstances. Especially since the Islamist attacks on churches and luxury hotels at Easter 2019 with more than 250 dead, there has been a lot of anti-Muslim sentiment in the country.

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