United Kingdom

‘Like cancelling Christmas’: Muslim leaders hit out at new coronavirus restrictions on eve of Eid

Muslim leaders have compared the tightening of lockdown restrictions to “cancelling Christmas on Christmas Eve” after ministers announced new restrictions in northern England shortly before the Eid feast.

The measures have been imposed in Greater Manchester, east Lancashire and parts of West Yorkshire following a spike in coronavirus infections.

The announcement – which came late on Thursday night – was made only hours ahead of the celebration of the Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha on Friday. 

Matt Hancock, the Health Secretary, denied that the restrictions were aimed at curtailing celebrations in which eating a meal with family and friends is a key part of festivities, but the Muslim Council of Britain (MCB) criticised the Governement for communicating them at “shockingly short notice”. 

Harun Khan, the MCB secretary general, said: “For Muslims in the affected areas, it is like being told they cannot visit family and friends for Christmas on Christmas Eve itself. Whilst the safety of communities is of paramount importance, as has remained the case from  the very outset of this crisis, so is effective communication delivered in a timely fashion.

“Failure to communicate makes it difficult for communities across the country to continue working together to minimise the spread of the virus, whilst eroding trust in the ability of authorities to steer our course as we tackle the Covid-19 crisis.

“The UK Government has failed to provide clarity on the shockingly short notice and the reasoning behind the new rules that British Muslims deserve – any such clarification would be most welcome.”

Imam Qari Asim MBE, the chair of the Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board, called the Government’s decision “extremely challenging and disheartening”.

He said: “There is now a sense of deflation and disappointment in what is meant to be a celebratory time. We are seeing the rise of Islamophobia online and how the Muslim community are the cause of another lockdown, but we cannot let this overshadow the celebrations of Eid today. 

“We do not want to give rise to hateful narratives that some groups will try to propagate. I, along with imams across the country, advise people to continue to be extra cautious and respectful in their celebrations. I am confident these humble gatherings will be as blessed as grander ones usually held in our homes and mosques.” 

Craig Whittaker, the Conservative MP for Calder Valley, in West Yorkshire, was criticised after telling LBC: “What I have seen in my constituency is we have areas of my community that are not taking the pandemic seriously.”

An imam based in Leeds told The Telegraph it was “inevitable” that not everyone would adhere to the latest guidance but stressed that the majority would be preoccupied with the potential dangers of the virus, particularly as the BAME community is disproportionately affected by Covid-19.

Imam Irfan Chishti, based at Manchester Central Mosque and Islamic Cultural Centre, said Thursday’s announcement had sparked “a lot of trauma and turmoil” among the local Muslim community. 

In the Lancashire town of Blackburn, which has surpassed Leicester as the coronavirus capital of England, there was a deeper sense of anger.

The streets of Whalley Range would normally be bustling with people heading into the sweet shops, milkshake cafes and colourful fruit stalls along the winding route into the town centre, but the shutters were down and the streets quiet.

“It is a joke – no matter how the Government dress it up, it is obvious that these new measures were brought in for the start of Eid,” said a 19-year-old student, who wanted to be identified only as Abhr.

“I’m really angry – once again the Asian community gets blamed, but they can’t stop us. My mum is 65 and she’s made lots of food for Eid, so I’ll be going to her house to celebrate. It would be unthinkable not to see my mum and share food with her during Eid, and many others will be doing the same, going to relations’ houses.

“People are angry and some are frightened. Yet I don’t hear anybody talking about the hundreds of people in pubs not self-distancing, or the thousands of Liverpool fans celebrating winning the league.

“I went to the mosque this morning and I prayed in the car park, with everybody socially distancing. People are making an effort here, but why are the pubs not shut in Blackburn today? It seems to be one rule for one community and one rule for another.”

Saima Afzal, a community inclusion activist and Blackburn councillor, said: “People need to be a bit more empathetic, step back from making this a race or religious issue.

“I have heard lots of judgmental narrative about how multi- generational households are a ‘problem’, that we Asians have large families and so our lifestyle is causing the disease to spread. It’s just really unfortunate that Eid is in the middle of it.”

Ali, a health worker from Blackburn, said the announcement had been made so late that it “has thrown a giant spanner into our Eid celebrations”.

“We will still celebrate, but at home with one family,” he said. “All the food is done, but it will be hard not meeting our friends and having a nice time.”

He said he did not think that Muslims or the Asian community had been “singled out”, adding: “The national statistics are what they are, and the coronavirus infections are the most prominent in our community. 

“These areas have to be targeted – it is for our own health and well-being. Our community must stick together and adhere to the rules.”

Asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme whether the measures were aimed at putting a stop to Eid celebrations, Mr Hancock said: “No. My heart goes out to the Muslim communities in these areas, because I know how important the Eid celebrations are.

“I’m very grateful to the local Muslim leaders, the imams in fact, across the country who’ve been working so hard to find a way to have Covid-secure celebrations.”

This article was originally published on
Article Source

Show More

Team- UK Day to Day

We are the Editorial Team of the UK Day to Day, and we manage the articles of UK Day to Day. Our nickname is Avengers and we like it very much.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button
Close