Press Releases

CAIR to Join American Sri Lankan, Muslim, Rights Groups at DC Capitol Hill Press Conference Calling on Sri Lanka to Stop Forced Cremations of Muslim, Christian COVID-19 Victims

(WASHINGTON, DC, 12/31/20) – On Saturday, January 2, the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) will join American Sri Lankan, American Muslim, human rights, and faith groups at a press conference to call on the Government of Sri Lanka and Sri Lankan President Gotabaya Rajapakse to respect religious freedom of Sri Lankan Muslims and Christians and not forcibly cremate deceased COVID-19 victims. [NOTE: Cremation is prohibited in Islam.]  

SEE: Sri Lanka is forcibly cremating Muslims who die of covid-19

The press conference is being sponsored by: Sri Lankans United, Sri Lankan American VOICE for EQUITY (SAVE), the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), ICNA Council for Social Justice (CSJ), and All Dulles Area Muslim Society (ADAMS). The conference will also be joined by other faith and civic leaders. Elected officials have also been invited.    

WHAT: Sri Lankans United News Conference     

WHEN: Saturday, January 2, 12:30 p.m. ET    

WHERE: U.S. Capitol Area 15 (Behind the Capitol, west side). Click here to map:

CONTACT: Rizwan Mowlana, (301) 366-1004   

LIVESTREAM: Sri Lankans United Facebook Page:


Sri Lankan American diaspora community members, elected officials and many faith-based leaders have approached the Rajapakse government calling for an end to these forced cremations, which do not meet guidelines established by the World Health Organization (WHO) for safely burying the COVID-19 victims.    

Inside Sri Lanka, Muslim, Christian and other minority communities are presently living in fear of being cremated against their religious convictions.   

“Our families make their homes in Sri Lanka and they are living in absolute fear,” said Sri Lankans United President Gaddafi Ismail.    

CAIR is calling on the government of Sri Lanka to stop these forced cremations at once and respect the sincerely held religious convictions of Sri Lankan Muslims and Christians by following World Health Organization guidelines on safely burying COVID-19 victims,” said CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw.    

Sri Lankan Americans, American Muslims and Christians who oppose the cremation of COVID-19 victims in Sri Lanka are encouraged to contact Gaddafi Ismail at Sri Lankans United by email at:  

CAIR is America’s largest Muslim civil liberties and advocacy organization. Its mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims.      

La misión de CAIR es proteger las libertades civiles, mejorar la comprensión del Islam, promover la justicia, y empoderar a los musulmanes en los Estados Unidos.        


CONTACT: CAIR Director of Government Affairs Department Robert S. McCaw, 202-999-8292,; CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper, 202-744-7726, 

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