Burial and Body Repatriation among Muslims during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Marseilles
From Yumna Masarwa
Professor Yumna Masarwa (Institute for American Universities, The American College of the Mediterranean) has just published an article related to Thanatic Ethicsin in the peer-reviewed journal Etudes sur la mort. It is entitled: “From “we are at war” to “they are martyrs”: Burial and Body Repatriation among Muslims during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Marseilles”.
Based on ethnographic research in Marseilles, which includes participant observation with Muslim death-care workers (undertakers and corpse washers), this article studies the performance of burials and body repatriation among Muslims (with a focus on Algerians) in Marseilles (France) during the Covid pandemic. It examines how bereaved Muslim families, Muslim funeral homes and the French Council for the Muslim Religion (CFCM) are adapting and reacting to new French government health regulations, especially those banning the ritual washing and shrouding of the corpse. I argue that the harsh reality of banning body repatriation, banning the ritual washing and shrouding of the corpse, the shortage of Islamic burial grounds in French cemeteries, and most importantly the urgency to comfort the bereaved Muslim families led the CFCM to declare Muslims who died of the coronavirus as “martyrs.”
Keywords: funeral rites, ritual washing, body repatriation, French Muslims, Marseilles, covid-19.
“From “we are at war” to “they are martyrs”: Burial and Body Repatriation among Muslims during the Covid-19 Pandemic in Marseilles,” Etudes Sur La Mort 158 (2022), pp. 55-69.