Ex-President disapproves burial of Sri Lankan Muslim virus victims in Maldives

Former Maldivian President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom. (File Photo/Sun/Fayaz Moosa)

Former President Maumoon Abdul Gayoom has voiced his opposition towards the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims from Sri Lanka in the Maldives. 

Maldivian Foreign Ministry had stated yesterday that the Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapaksa had sent a letter to Maldivian President Ibrahim Mohamed Solih requesting for assistance in the burial of Muslims who passed away due to the virus in the nation. 

President Gotabaya had noted that Sri Lanka was facing difficulties in burying the victims of COVID-19 in accordance with Islamic custom and laws. 

President Solih is now in discussions with state institutions over how the Maldives can assist neighboring Sri Lanka and the Muslim brothers of the nation. The President was also working mindfully of the age-old close relationship the Maldives has with Sri Lanka in this regard. 

Maumoon in a tweet yesterday, said that he cannot support bringing the bodies of foreign COVID-19 victims to be buried in the Maldives. 

Maumoon also stated that the Maldives was always welcome to foreign visitors. 

The Daily Mirror of Sri Lanka first reported that the Maldives had offered to bury the victims of the virus. It quoted the Sri Lankan Deputy Director-General of Public Health Dr. Hemantha Herath who said that the Maldivian Foreign Ministry had offered to bury the deceased Muslims of Sri Lanka.

The Sri Lankan government has maintained the policy that the bodies of those who pass away from the virus will have to be cremated, not buried, which goes against Islamic customs. The issue has caused discontent among the Muslim community of Sri Lanka and even seen protests.