“Stop harassing Srilanka Muslims”

Unless the harassment meted out to Muslims stops, Sri Lankan employees in the Middle East could also face similar intimidation by extremists groups in those countries, the UNP warned on 28 March.

Addressing the media, UNP Parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera said Muslims are being subject to many forms of harassment by extremist groups with the support of the government. He urged the government to lay down rules protecting the freedom to practice one's religion so as to avert racial disharmony.

He pointed out that Sri Lanka, as a country that had signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, is bound to protect the freedom of all religions. He also charged that the Ministry of Defence is behind the extremist groups which are harassing the Muslim and Christian communities in the country.

 "All the extremist groups are funded by the Ministry of Defence. The police are also mute, in this regard," he alleged. (The ministry is headed by Gotabaya Rajapaksa, brother of president Mahinda Rajapaksa)

He also said if the government is denying the allegations of their connectivity to the extremist groups, they need to introduce anti-harassment laws. "If I want to worship a coconut tree, I have every right to do that as long as it does not harm others. Likewise people should have the right to follow any religious views," he claimed.

He also pointed out, 65 religious places were destroyed by various extremist groups after the end of war, but laws pertaining to prevent such atrocities are not strong enough.

Umesh Moramudali

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 May 2013 on page no. 15

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