Vicky Foxcroft MP
House of Commons
London, SW1A 0AA
Sunday 22nd March 2020
URGENT: Distress over proposed Coronavirus Bill relating to cremation
We hope that you and your family are well during these testing times for us all.
We appreciate that you and your colleagues must be inundated with matters related to the Coronavirus outbreak, and we write concerning Schedule 27 of the proposed new Coronavirus Bill 2019-21 (“the Bill”) which will permit local authorities discretion to disregard the existing law under s.46(3) of the Public Health (Control of Disease) Act 1984 preventing local authorities from cremating the dead against the wishes of the deceased and/of their family.
As the central and largest Mosque in this Borough, we are writing to express our fear and anguish of the impact this change in the law will have on the Muslim constituents of Lewisham (broadly 7% of the borough) because cremation is strictly forbidden in Islam as it is in Judaism.
Lewisham is proving to be one of the areas where the pandemic appears to be increasing, and we appreciate that the relevant authorities are trying hard to control the outbreak. However, the further undue stress and anxiety the Bill is creating in the Muslim community cannot be overstated because Islam ascribes as much import to funeral rites as it does the preservation of life, so the spiritual repugnance of cremation to Muslims must not be underappreciated.
In order to allay the fears of the Muslim and Jewish communities, we would be most grateful for your support to amend the Bill due to have its second reading in the House of Commons on Monday 23rd March for it to reflect the continued right for all communities to be able to bury their dead according to their wishes and with dignity.
In the event that the Bill passes, we seek your reassurance and undertaking that the Lewisham Borough Council will not exercise this discretion and disregard the wishes of the deceased and their families with respect to burial rites.
We thank you in advance for your assiatance in this matter and look forward to hearing from you.
LEWISHAM ISLAMIC CENTRE