Charles marks start of Ramadan with video praising UK Muslims
The Prince of Wales has described how he was left “utterly heartbroken” by the “tragic story” of the 13-year-old Muslim boy who died alone after contracting Covid-19.
Charles’s comments were made in a video message to mark the start of the holy month of Ramadan, when Muslims fast from dawn till sunset.
He also praised those followers of Islam working in the NHS or as key workers, and sympathised with the families of Muslim doctors and nurses whose loved ones had died after testing positive for coronavirus.
With the country in Covid-19 lockdown, the message formed part of a virtual Iftar – the communal breaking of the fast – organised by two organisations with links to the Muslim community. The Mosaic Initiative, part of youth charity The Prince’s Trust and the Naz Legacy Foundation.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock sent a message praising NHS staff from minority backgrounds and commended the Prince’s Trust for helping young people get jobs into healthcare.
Charles said in his message: “I was utterly heartbroken by the tragic story of Ismail Mohamed Abdulwahab, a previously healthy thirteen year old boy, who passed away without the comfort of having his family by his side.
“Every bereavement, from whatever cause, is made even harder for families by the current restrictions on funerals. I can only too well understand how agonising this must be for those affected and I know their enormous sense of grief will be shared by countless others – including myself.
“Under these appallingly challenging circumstances, my wife and I can only offer you all our kindest and most special wishes and stress just how greatly the contribution of Muslims to the life of the United Kingdom is appreciated and valued.”
Ismail, of Brixton, south London, is thought to have been the first child in the UK to die after testing positive for coronavirus.
The youngster was admitted to London’s King’s College Hospital on March 26 and tested positive for Covid-19 the following day.
He was buried four days later, but his immediate family were unable to attend because they had to self-isolate.
The Health Secretary has said new procedures are being introduced “so we can limit the risk of infection while wherever possible giving people’s closest loved ones the chance to say goodbye”.
Charles went on to say: “Many British Muslims, of course, will spend this Ramadan on the frontline of the Covid crisis, working in our NHS or in other key roles.
“Most tragically, I know that a number of highly experienced and invaluable doctors and nurses from the Muslim community have lost their lives to this pernicious virus.
“To their families and colleagues, I can only convey my deepest possible sympathy; and to everyone on the front line, of whatever religion, I offer my profound admiration and heartfelt gratitude for everything they are doing – for all of us.”
More than 16% of people who have tested positive for coronavirus when they died were from black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities, data released this week has revealed.
And a significant proportion of the more than 80 NHS workers who have died with Covid-19 are from Bame backgrounds.