COLOMBO: ARAB NEWS
Published — Monday 25 March 2013
Last update 25 March 2013 3:05 am
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.