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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2618

Protect Muslim community -A call by Organization of Islamic Cooperation countries

By K.T.Rajasingham
Colombo, 05 June, (Asiantribune.com):

Ambassadors and the High Commissioners of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) countries in Sri Lanka, has jointly released a statement calling the Sri Lankan Government to prevent communal violence and take swift judicial action against perpetrators.

“Communal violence targeting Muslims in Sri Lanka, has regional and global security implications. The developing situation over the past few days has been extremely worrying with regard to the safety and protection of the Sri Lankan Muslim community, including some foreign Muslim refugees,” the statement said.

The lives and livelihoods of Muslims, including their local stores and large business establishments, are threatened by the prevailing conditions with unforeseen, dangerous consequences. The Muslim community across Sri Lanka is deeply worried about the politically motivated intimidations and provocations, which President Maithripala Sirisena pointed out in his Iftar reception statement last evening, the statement noted.

“We all know that even the smallest incident in an isolated Sri Lankan village can be recorded and shared online for mass viewership, stoking widespread violence and counter-violence. And the ongoing divisive, hate speech that demonizes and excludes the other hardly helps remedy this grave situation but worsens it, which should be a cause for our shared concern.”

“As longstanding friends of Sri Lanka, the diplomatic representatives of OIC countries promote peace, stability, and harmony among the people of Sri Lanka. And we encourage them to seek unity in diversity, which underpins the attractiveness of Sri Lanka as a tolerant and peace-loving nation with a heritage that fosters ‘doing no harm to others’.”

Therefore, the representatives of the OIC countries, urged the “friendly Government of Sri Lanka to take every measure necessary to prevent communal violence and to take swift, stern judicial action against the perpetrators, regardless of their religious and political influence in Sri Lankan society”.

The OIC is an international organization founded in 1969, consisting of 57 member states, with a collective population of over 1.8 billion as of 2015 with 53 members being Muslim-majority countries.

As many as 14 OIC-member states have missions in Colombo. Select envoys, who attended an Iftar ceremony hosted by President Maithripala Sirisena on Monday, had a discussion with him following the event, on the developments since the April 21 Easter terror attacks.

Conveying their concern over the “demonizing” of Muslims by sections and the growing instances of hate speech, they requested President Sirisena to take steps to de-escalate tensions, sources present at the meeting said.

Further, they sought “swift and stern judicial” action against perpetrators of communal violence, regardless of their “religious and political influence” in Sri Lankan society.

Their message comes a day after all 23 Muslim Parliamentarians – with exception of two of them - though they expressed their solidarity but stood separately and also all nine Muslim Ministers stepped down from their positions, in the wake of a fasting Buddhist monk’s demand that three prominent Muslim politicians — a Minister and two Governors — resign over Easter bombings.

Scores of people marched in support of the monk, until he called off his hunger strike on Monday evening.

In the meantime, four Muslim Ministers and five Muslim Ministers of State tendered their resignations.

They are -

City Planning, Water Supply and Higher Education Minister Rauff Hakeem, Highways, Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development Minister Kabir Hashim and Industry, Commerce, Resettlement, Protracted Displaced Persons, Cooperative Development, Vocational Training and Resettlement Minister Rishad Bathiudeen and Postal and Muslim Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Haleem submitted their resignations on Monday.

The others who resigned were State Minister of Health and Indigenous Medicine, Mohamed Faizal, State Minister of Provincial Councils and Local Government, Mohamed Hareez, State Minister of Social Empowerment Ali Zahir Moulana and Agriculture and State Minister of Irrigation and Rural Economic Affairs Amir Ali Zeyed Mohamed.

The resignations came in the wake of a protest campaign and a 'fast unto death' by MP Athuraliye Rathana Thera, demanding the resignation of Minister Bathiudeen and Western and Eastern Provinces Governors Azath Salley and M.L.A.M. Hizbullah over allegations that they supported the National Thowheed Jama'at (NTJ).

The collective resignation of Ministers has stirred Colombo’s political circles, even as it pointed to the extent of the Buddhist clergy’s influence.

Speaking at the ceremony earlier, President Sirisena had said “the country will be doomed” if conflicts arise due to different ethnicity.

After the resignation of two Muslim Governors on Monday — following allegations linking them to Easter attacks suspects — President Sirisena appointed former Colombo Mayor A. J. M. Muzammil as Governor of the Western Province on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, a three-member committee has been appointed at the Police Head Quarters to receive any complaints against former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, and Governors M.L.A.M. Hizbullah, Azath Salley, who resigned on Monday.

- Asian Tribune -

Muslim Ministers who have tendered their resignations
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