THE FIGURE of 100,000 deaths from COVID-19 in the UK has been described by the Muslim Professionals Forum (MPF) as a “grim milestone”. The MPF pointed out that every person who has died has left behind family and friends who are now grieving.
The MPF was commenting as Prime Minister Boris Johnson admitted the death toll was now in six figures – and pledged that when the pandemic is over “we will come together as a nation to remember everyone we lost and to honour the selfless heroism of all those on the front line who gave their lives to save others.” The Forum went on to suggest just what kind of memorial would be appropriate.
Their starting point is that the pandemic has exposed underlying inequalities which were present across the UK before the pandemic broke out. The MPF pointed out that:
●use of food banks is increasing;
●digital poverty has come to light as schools remain closed;
●public support for keeping the “temporary” £20 uplift on Universal Credit shows how low the benefit was beforehand.
The MPF believes that a fitting act of remembrance for those who have died would be for the Government to:
●increase the pay of our heroic NHS workers and increase the number of jobs in the NHS;
●to eliminate digital poverty by establishing a National Broadband Service and providing laptops to all school pupils who need them;
●and to alleviate poverty by removing the benefit cap and restrictions on housing benefit, and by investing in welfare benefits to increase the spending power of the poor and newly jobless.
These moves would help address some of the inequality in UK society by helping the BAME community, who have suffered disproportionately.
Muslim Professionals Forum Chair, Cllr Khaled Noor, said, “People from the Black and Ethnic Minority (BAME) community feature high in the Coronavirus statistics: we are disproportionately more likely to become infected and to die; and we are more likely to be on the front line, risking our lives to help others.
“We mourn each and every death from our diverse communities. We pray for all those whose lives have been cut short and we send our condolences to every bereaved and grieving family.
“As the virus continues to take lives, we urge everyone to follow the lockdown guidelines. Stay home; observe social distancing; wear a mask – and encourage everyone to have a vaccination when they are invited.”
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