Rally to mobilize public support against anti-Muslim campaigns in Sri Lanka

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Updated 25 March 2013
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Rally to mobilize public support against anti-Muslim campaigns in Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan traders and business organizations will stage a peaceful protest today urging the government to take immediate actions to stop anti-Muslim campaigns, maintain law and order and promote communal harmony.
The nationwide protest is organized by Muslim Rights Organization (MRO) to mobilize public support against hate campaigns carried out by Bodu Bala Sena, an extremist Buddhist group, and Jathika Hela Urumaya, a party in the ruling coalition.
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.
“These extremist 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,” said New Mexico Ameen, head of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka.
“They are using abusive language when referring to our religious practices and publicly calling for a boycott of businesses run by Muslims,” Ameen said in a letter to the president.
Last week, Bodu Bala Sena called for the demolition of a 10th century mosque in Kuragala. The call 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.
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 Jeddah-based Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has expressed concerns over increasing reports of anti-Muslim violence in the island state.
In June, some 200 demonstrators led by dozens of Buddhist monks converged on a small Islamic center in Colombo’s suburb of Dehiwala.
Throwing stones and rotten meat over the center’s gate, protesters shouted slogans demanding its closure.
“We have experienced a steady drop in sales since January after Bodu Bala Sena had put up posters around the country telling people not to shop at our stores because our company is Muslim-owned. They threaten to take violent action against people who purchase things from Muslim shops,” said a Muslim trader.


Family fears for jailed Pakistani’s life after leaked report of US prison abuse

Updated 1 min 34 sec ago
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Family fears for jailed Pakistani’s life after leaked report of US prison abuse

  • Siddiqui’s family has the Pakistan government to take immediate steps for her repatriation so she can serve her remaining sentence in Pakistan
  • We are aware of these allegations, a US Embassy spokesperson tells Arab News

KARACHI: The family of Aafia Siddiqui, the Pakistani neuroscientist jailed in the US on terror charges, has expressed fears for her life following reports of physical and sexual abuse by prison staff.
Siddiqui, 46, was convicted in 2010 of seven counts of attempted murder and assault of US personnel in Afghanistan. She is serving an 86-year jail term at the Federal Medical Center, Carswell in Fort Worth, Texas.
Claims of abuse by prison staff surfaced in a confidential Pakistani consul-general’s report leaked to Arab News.
On May 23, Pakistan’s consul-general in Houston, Aisha Farooqui, met Siddiqui, who complained about physical and sexual abuse by prison staff.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson, Dr. Mohammed Faisal, confirmed that the Pakistan consul-general in Houston had informed Islamabad about her meeting with Siddiqui.
“Dr. Aafia Siddiqui has informed our consul-general about her oppression in jail,” he said during a press briefing in Islamabad on Thursday.
Faisal said that Pakistan had told US authorities about the “inhuman conduct” handed out to Siddiqui.
“She was constantly disturbed in her room and her privacy was consistently violated by jail staff who harassed her, threatened her and attempted to sexually abuse her on a number of occasions,” Farooqui wrote in his report, a copy of which was leaked to Arab News.
Siddiqui’s sister, Dr. Fowzia Siddiqui, told Arab News: “The leaking of this report will jeopardize Aafia’s life further as the prison guards will turn more vengeful.
“No words can describe the pain this report has inflicted on our hearts. No words can describe our agony,” she said.
Farooqui said Siddiqui had claimed that staff “barged into her room, confiscated her belongings, made fun of her and even snatched her scarf off her head.”
The consul-general has recommended Islamabad seek a US Department of Justice inquiry into Siddiqui’s claims.
“We are aware of these allegations,” a US Embassy spokesperson told Arab News.
“Consistent with the protections afforded individuals under the US Constitution and other applicable US law, the United States treats all convicted prisoners humanely and in a manner that complies with our international human rights obligations,” the official said.