LONDON: The drafted emergency Coronavirus Bill 2019-21 is said to allow designated local authorities to disregard section 46(3) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984, which is designed to prevent a local authority from being able to cremate a body against the wishes of the deceased, ARY News reported on Sunday.
The Muslim community and advocacy group (MEND) have issued a statement on the proposed burial measures in the COVID-19 emergency legislation.
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MEND has called on political representatives to immediately amend the Bill to reflect “the human rights of religious minorities”.
The Coronavirus Bill would give local authorities the power to direct cremations in the disposal of bodies. This is forbidden in Islam and Judaism.
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Member of Parliament for Bradford West Naz Shah is leading a cross-party amendment to address the issue of burial rights as part of the Coronavirus Bill.
With concern from Muslim and Jewish communities in Bradford and across the UK, around the rising situation concerning burials of Coronavirus Covid-19 victims – I asked the Minister what conversations he has had on this issue. pic.twitter.com/4UYUWhKm36
— Naz Shah MP (@NazShahBfd) March 16, 2020
Talking exclusively to ARY News on the matter, British-Pakistani MP Naz Shah said that she was well aware of the concerns that the Muslim and Jewish communities share regarding cremation and she will present a well-rounded opposition to the clause in the next session of parliament.
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Mosques and Imams across the UK have raised an alarming concern around the Covid Bill presented to the Parliament.
The concern is about a draft subsection in SCHEDULE 27 – PART 2 relating to ‘dispose of bodies which includes removal of the deceased’s wishes and enforced cremations’.
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The British Board of Muslim Scholars and Imams has urgently called 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.
The Muslim community in the UK has been managing burials in accordance with their faith for decades and has built a thorough network of teams to manage this emergency situation.