A controversial imam in Australia has asked Muslims not to get the vaccine for the coronavirus disease being developed by Oxford University. Sufyaan Khalifa claimed the vaccine being developed by AstraZeneca is ‘haram’ – meaning forbidden.
Khalifa has posted a video on his YouTube channel in which he blasted the methodology adopted by AstraZeneca, which said it is making the vaccine using foetal cells of an aborted baby in the 1970s and developed in a laboratory.
“Shame on some Muslim bodies justifying the use of the vaccine. Shame on any imam who did sign this fatwah,” Khalifa said in the video.
His is the growing voice of religious figures who are against Australia’s vaccine deal with AstraZeneca. A senior Catholic archbishop had recently warned he is “deeply troubled” by the deal, saying the potential vaccine uses a fetal cell line that creates an “ethical quandary” for Christians.
Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher wrote a letter to Prime Minister Scott Morrison outlining concerns of some Christians over the vaccine’s apparent use of a cell line derived from an elective abortion performed decades ago. The letter was signed by Anglican and Greek Orthodox religious leaders.
It also urged Morrison to pursue other “ethical” vaccine candidates to ensure religious objectors have a choice.
Referring to the objection raised by the Catholic bodies, Imam Khalifa lashed out at Muslim bodies in Australia. “The Catholics have stood up against this clearly because they know it’s haram, it’s unlawful. But you stand with the government instead,” the Perth-based imam said.
Australia earlier this month announced a deal with AstraZeneca to manufacture the “promising” vaccine if it is proven safe and effective, with plans to offer it for free to the entire population.
Some of the officials in Australia have said that they respect the sentiments of religioous communities. An Australian government spokerperson had said that they are “investing in research and technology that we hope will produce a range of vaccines that will be suitable for as many Australians as possible”.
Among those is the University of Queensland’s vaccine candidate, which the official said does not contain fetal cell lines and has received Aus $5 million in government funding.
It is currently in Phase 1 efficacy trials, while the Oxford vaccine is among a handful globally that have reached Phase 3.
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