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Tired of hate attacks, Sri Lanka Muslims plead for protection

Monday March 25, 2013 08:34:07 PM, IANS

Colombo: Facing a new wave of hate attacks, the Muslim community in Sri Lanka has appealed to President Mahinda Rajapaksa to act against extremist Buddhists who have been leading campaigns to inculcate fear and hatred against Muslims, according to a report in Sri Lanka news portal Colombo Page.

"These groups have been using the traditional media, social media, public meetings, posters, leaflets, and the circulation of rumors and misinformation insulting Muslims to inculcate a sense of fear and hatred of Muslims among Sinhalese," N.M. Ameen, Head of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, said in a letter to the President.

 

"They are using abusive language when referring to our religious practices and publicly calling for a boycott of businesses run by Muslims", he added.

 

Ameen urged the Sri Lankan President to intervene to stop harassment against Muslims and their businesses. "We see no substantive reduction in either the incidents of harassment of members of our community or the campaign by the extremist groups."

Last week, a hardline Buddhist group known as "Bodu Bala Sena", or Buddhist Force, called for the demolition of a 10th century mosque in Kuragala.

 

The call for destroying the ancient mosque comes shortly after the group campaigned against halal food in Sri Lanka, forcing Muslims to abandon halal logo to help ease tension with the Buddhist majority.

 

The Muslim appeal to the president for protection is not the first. Over the past months, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka has called on the President to consider their requests to stem the rising tide of anti-Muslim extremism in the country.

 

Muslims have urged the president to publicly condemn the hate campaign of the Buddhist extremists.

 

They have also called for defending equal rights for all citizens in the country as well as instructing the police to take necessary action to stop incidents of harassment against minorities and their businesses.

The Muslim calls followed an earlier letter from the Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) expressing concerns over increasing reports of anti-Muslim ethnic tensions.

 

Sri Lanka has been thrown into tension following a string of serious incidents involving extremist Buddhist provocations against Muslims.

 

In June, some 200 demonstrators led by several dozen Buddhist monks converged on a small Islamic center in Colombo’s suburb of Dehiwala.

 

Throwing stones and rotten meat over the mosque gate, protestors shouted slogans demanding the closure of the Muslim worship place.

 

Last April, a number of Buddhist monks disrupted Muslim prayer services in the village of Dambulla.

 

The attackers claimed that the mosque, built in 1962, was illegal. Weeks later, monks drafted a threatening letter aimed at Muslims in the nearby town of Kurunegala, demanding Islamic prayer services there be halted.

 

 







 

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