At least 50 Muslim shop owners in Narammala in the Kurunegala District, have received death threats by mail. They have been warned to close their shops by March 31 or face death, Kurunegala district organizer of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) Abdul Sathar said.
Sathar told The Sunday Leader that a police complaint had been lodged over the death threats received by the shop owners.
He also said that the Minister of Industry and Commerce Rishard Bathiudeen had also been briefed about the incident.
When The Sunday Leader contacted the Minister he confirmed that he was aware of the threats and said that he had raised the issue with the Inspector General of Police (IGP).
Bathiudeen said he had also told the IGP to investigate several other incidents targeting Muslims which had been reported from the Kurunegala district.
He warned that if the issue is not addressed soon then a situation similar to that of 1983 may befall the country.
The Minister said that he had also discussed the issue with President Mahinda Rajapaksa soon after the Cabinet meeting last week. The President had appointed a committee to look into some of the reported incidents.
Bathiudeen said he is also willing to meet any organization or political party, be it the JHU or the Bodu Bala Sena to discuss concerns over the Halal certification.
Sathar said that he was not sure from where the death threats had come to the Muslim shop owners in Narammala.
He said the Halal certification issue was meanwhile being made to spread fear in the country among Muslims.
He said that in some Temples children were told not to eat Halal food and that message was being spread around as well.
Ministers divided over Muslim issues (Sunday Times 17th Feb’2012)
The discussion in the Cabinet began when Minister Dinesh Gunawardena called for ban on a public event planned to be held in Maharagama today. It was to be part of a campaign against `Halal’ certification and other issues relating to the Muslim community. “How can you ban a Budhu Samuluwa? This is a democratic country,” shot back Patali Champika Ranawaka, now Minister of Technology, Research and Atomic Energy. He took up a strong position. “This is not acceptable to Buddhists. Why should they buy `Halal’ products? For us it is not relevant. It may be okay for the Muslims. Even packets of milk or cups of yoghurt were sealed whilst Islamic music was played,” he said.
Ministers Rishard Bathiuddin who was seated to Ranawaka’s right and Rauff Hakeem to his left objected and declared those statements were wrong.
Ranawaka then asked why a country with a 91 per cent non-Muslim population should go for these products and added that it was “illegal and unacceptable.” He asked whether Toyota or Tata vehicles also bore the `Halal’ certificates in Sri Lanka and accused the All Ceylon Jamiyauthul Ulema of being “social divisionists.” No sooner the cabinet meeting was over, Ranawaka, who is also Secretary of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), chaired a news conference. He called for a “total boycott of all Halal certified products in Sri Lanka.” He criticised the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema and declared that it had no legal right to provide “Halal” certification for all products. In what seemed one of his strongest public remarks, Ranawaka charged that the ACJU was “trying to `Islamify’ the country whilst violating the rights of the people who wish to be able to choose what they want to eat.” He urged Buddhists, Hindus and Christians to join the boycott.
National Languages and Social Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara told ministers he was privy to an instance which showed that there were people trying to take advantage of the situation. “It is simple to say it is not political,” he said citing an instance where he had seen a notice on Facebook. It was an invitation for people to gather at a temple. Some 150 had turned up heeding the notice, he pointed out. In a separate development, State Intelligence Service (SIS), the premier intelligence arm of the Government, had also cited instances where men in three-wheeler scooters in some villages had gone around inviting people to gather at temples. They were being told not to buy `Halal’ certified products and to boycott Muslim business houses. SIS also reported this week that notices had been distributed in classrooms in schools in Colombo South requesting students to carry out a similar boycott. The SIS had in this instance identified those behind the move.
President Mahinda Rajapaksa told ministers that he had discussed the matter earlier with representatives of the Bodu Bala Sena Organisation (BBSO). Members of the Buddhist clergy who were at the helm had assured him that their organisation was not responsible for the campaign against the Muslims. One of them pointed out that the good name of their organisation was being used by other interested parties. Similarly, Rajapaksa said he had occasion recently to speak to a group of Muslim theologians who conduct Friday Jumma prayers in the City and suburbs. This was after he heard reports that some of them had preached that Muslims should be prepared to defend themselves. He had advised the theologians to be careful in the use of words.
Otherwise, it could only rouse passions. Moreover, such remarks could also be misinterpreted as a call to resort to weapons, he had cautioned. Rajapaksa noted that such references had stopped thereafter. He also said the Muslim community was very supportive of the government’s humanitarian efforts and some had even gone to Geneva to defend Sri Lanka. They spoke in one voice. He said a strategy would have to be devised to prevent people from trying to exploit the situation for their own agendas. Among others who spoke were Dinesh Gunawardena, Rishard Bathiudeen and Rauff Hakeem.
President Rajapaksa proposed that a committee be appointed under the chairmanship of former Prime Minister and now Senior Minister Ratnasiri Wickremenayake to study various issues causing tensions. It was unanimously approved. Leaders of all political parties which are partners of the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) will serve as members of the committee. They are: a representative of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) to be named later, Champika Ranawaka (JHU), Rauff Hakeem (SLMC), Douglas Devananda (EPDP), Dinesh Gunawardena (MEP), Rishard Bathiudeen (ACMC), A.L.M. Athaullah (NMC), Arumugam Thondaman (CWC), V.S. Radhakrishnan (UPF), TissaVitharana (LSSP), D.E.W. Gunasekera (CP), Wimal Weerawansa (NFF) and Prabha Ganeshan (DPF).
Colombo Mayor A.J.M. Muzzamil reacted to Ranawaka’s public attack on the ACJU and the boycott of `Halal’ certified products. “There is no question of `Islamifying’ the country. We have lived for centuries with our Sinhala brethren in peace and harmony in a united Sri Lanka. The `Halal’ certification is a voluntary process and there was no compulsion on anyone to obtain it from the ACJU,” he told the Sunday Times. He said eating halal food was a religious requirement for Muslims and this had been practised for years and years. Why is anyone crying foul now, he asked.
Muzzamil threw a challenge to all Muslim Ministers and MPs in the UPFA Government. “They should either talk to their leaders and resolve this issue or, if they cannot, resign from the Government. After all, most of them won preferential votes from the Muslims in their electorates. Hence, they have vowed to serve the Muslims. If they cannot find an amicable settlement, they should leave honourably than misleading their voters with false promises and assurances,” Muzzamil said. Taking a dig at his political opponents, the United National Party (UNP) mayor said there were some Muslim politicians who were conspicuous by their silence.
Last Thursday, the main opposition UNP accused the Government of carrying out a hate campaign against the Muslims. The charge came from Mangala Samaraweera, onetime Foreign Minister and now Director of Communications of the party. He told a news conference, “The Bodu Bala Sena is manufacturing problems to create tension between the Sinhala and Muslim people. As a result thousands of innocent Muslim families were living in fear.” The remarks drew a sharp retort from the Bodu Bala Sena Organisation (BBSO).
At a news conference on Friday afternoon, BBSO Secretary GaladodaAththe Gnanasara Thera said, “Mr Samaraweera has accused us of being funded by the Defence Ministry,the US and Indian organisations. We completely deny these allegations. He should make a public apology on the statements he has made.”The reports of the two events appear elsewhere in this newspaper.
Focus on Commonwealth Defense Ministry slush fund is funding and promoting Balu Sena terror group – Mangala drops bombshell
(Lanka-e-News-14.Feb.2013, 11.30PM) The Ministry of defense is secretly doling out monies to Buddhist monks from its slush fund to propagate and promote the Balusena `s extremist terrorism against the Muslims, Mangala Samaraweera M P observed
Because of Mahinda Rajapakse’s incompetence the country is fast heading for a holocaust . At this juncture when the country is nose diving , the moribund Govt. is conspiring to divert the nation’s attention by stoking religious hatred and fanning the flames of racism, he added. What is most repugnantly noteworthy is , this conspiracy is targeting our own section of Sri Lankans.
The Rajapakse Govt.’s new racial and vindictive target is the Muslim community that has lived in this country for thousands of years and throughout history as citizens of SL, and along with the Sinhalese and the Tamils worked for the country’s advancement , development and even independence.
The Rajapakse regime which is in a bankrupt state, policy less and rudderless has based on jealousy , hatred and greed through a pro Taliban group of monks alias terrorists is inflaming again racial violence in the country with a view to winning over the ordinary Sinhala Buddhist people , spending billions of rupees carrying on an Island wide campaign pasting anti Muslim posters, running various websites and sowing seeds of racial hatred and protests . We are in receipt of information that monies are being provided to these pro Taliban terrorist monks from the slush fund under the defense Ministry.
Moreover, it is learnt that the police too is not giving adequate protection to the Muslims during these anti Muslim campaigns. In some instances , the police had not even taken down the complaints . Like how the police was idly watching with arms crossed recently when the Lawyers who were peacefully protesting against the impeachment motion against former CJ were attacked by goons and gangsters brought in State vehicles , the police in the same way are turning a blind eye when the Muslims are being persecuted by these Buddhist pro Taliban extremists. I wish to ask , whether they are conducting themselves like this on orders received from the top?
We must thank the Muslim community for being patient amidst these provocative actions of these pro Taliban Balu sena terror group . But if this is to continue , this can constitute a serious threat to the Sri Lankans across the globe .This can have an adverse impact not only on the Sri Lankans in the middle east who are a mainstay of our economy , but even the High Commissions abroad and the staff.
In 2010 in America, Florida a Christian fundamentalist Terry Jones tried to burn the Quran, and subsequently produced a film blaspheming Islam and vilifying the Prophet. A number of Muslim countries reacted sharply against this .The people in those countries destroyed the US Embassies, and killed even the US Ambassador in Libya. In Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia and many other countries protests were staged. Muslim extremists began attacking innocent US citizens too. The US Govt . which was not at all involved in this also had to face grave losses.
Hence I implore these Balu sena extremists in this country not to play with the lives of the innocent Sri Lankans. Extremism feeds on itself, and begets extremism. Because of this country’s Buddhist lunatics, Islam extremists can be spawned. Today, the need is to reinforce the Lankan identity being a multi religious and multi racial society.
Just because we in SL as Buddhists have become the majority, the whole country does not belong to us. Our whole country belongs to the Tamil community living in this country. This whole country belongs to the Muslim community living in this country, to the Burghers and Malays.
While safeguarding our Sri Lankan identity, all of them have a right to carry on their traditions and customs, religious observances and protect their cultural heritage.
In this country there should not be second class citizens. All should be equally protected. Specially, as Buddhists that is our responsibility. That is the best way we can serve Buddhism which is preached founded on the cornerstones of compassion, sympathy and non violence.
Indika Sri Aravinda
Sunday Leader 17th February 2012