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Covid: millions grieving loss of loved ones

9th Apr 2021
Covid: millions grieving loss of loved ones

Afzal Khan, pictured with his late mum Akhtar Nissa Begum, buried a generation of his family in the pandemic. (Courtesy of Afzal Khan)

Afzal Khan MP

This month we marked the first anniversary of the first national lockdown being introduced in the UK. A staggering 126,000 people have lost their lives to this virus and counting.

When we are constantly bombarded with statistics in the media, it’s easy to lose sight of the human story behind each number. However, we mustn’t forget that behind the death toll, there are millions of people grieving the loss of their loved ones. This is something I have experienced first-hand, as an entire generation of my family died this year. Almost a year ago after we entered a lockdown, my mum passed away. Without proper testing infrastructure at the time, I’ll never know if she died of Covid-19. But that doesn’t matter. As she lay in her hospital bed, I couldn’t hold her hand, comfort her, tell her I loved her or say goodbye.

Last month, my mother-in-law and father-in-law both contracted Covid-19 and died within just days of one another. The shock of this was brought home when my wife and I buried my father-in-law next to the fresh flowers still lying at my mother-in-law’s grave.

Muslim funerals bring together families, friends and the community to mourn and comfort one another. The pain of burying loved ones without this ritual and support has been experienced by so many across the country.

The Government’s lack of understanding or engagement with the Muslim community has severely limited their ability to control the spread of the virus. Epitomising this was the Government’s last-minute decision to place parts of the North of England into lockdown just hours before Eid-Al-Adha.

Looking ahead, a full public inquiry into the handling of the pandemic will allow us to understand if there was anything more that could have been done to save lives and how we can prevent such a tragedy from happening again. While I’m pleased the Prime Minister has committed to an inquiry, we need to know when this will happen. The experiences of the Chilcot and Hillsborough Inquiries demonstrate why we shouldn’t and mustn’t delay, for justice delayed is justice denied.

I will mark the anniversary of my mum’s death very soon, and I know she would want me to fight for justice not just for her but for all those whose lives have been so cruelly cut short.

Afzal Khan,
Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Commons

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Over 120 people attended a landmark conference on the media reporting of Islam and Muslims. It was held jointly by The Muslim News and Society of Editors in London on September 15.

The Muslim News Awards for Excellence 2015 was held on March in London to acknowledge British Muslim and non-Muslim contributions to the society.

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