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

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Updated 25 March 2013

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.


Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

A municipal worker sprays disinfectant on an ambulance in Atulugama on March 29, 2020, after the town was sealed off by health authorities following fears that it could be a cluster for COVID-19 infection after two positive cases. (AFP)
Updated 12 min 58 sec ago

Sri Lanka launches online portal for migrant workers amid virus scare

  • Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival

COLOMBO: To help its overseas migrant workers deal with the coronavirus, Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Foreign Relations has launched an online portal where citizens can voice their concerns, officials said on Sunday.

“All Sri Lankans living abroad were invited to register voluntarily on the platform . . . allowing the government to reach out and provide assistance during emergencies such as the Covid-19 outbreak. This platform will allow the ministry to access real-time data for quick action,” an official from the foreign ministry said on Sunday.

Since its launch on March 26, the “Contact Sri Lanka” portal has seen 17,000 registrations, with several saying they want to return home as soon as possible.

“A bulk of the 700 inquiries received through the portal relate to the possibility of a return to the country,” excerpts from a statement released by the Ministry of Foreign Relations and made available to Arab News, read on Sunday.

Registration by residents in the country will also allow the ministry to propose concrete policy decisions in critical response situations, such as evacuation measures, depending on the number of emergency assistance requests generated, the statement said.

It added that establishment of the portal was based on a “call made by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa for coordinated efforts by all government stakeholders to fight the Covid-19 outbreak and to harness digital technology to prompt faster and more efficient service delivery.”

Deputy General Manager of the Sri Lanka Bureau of Foreign Employment (SLBFE) W. Leelaratne told Arab News that Sri Lankan employees, particularly at missions in the Middle East and Asia, would be working with host governments “to secure fair treatment and concessions for expatriate workers to the maximum extent possible.”

“This includes safeguarding the rights of the workers related to the payment of salaries and ensuring job security, ” he said.

Leelaratne said that due to the current global situation; the SLBFE has opened a 24/7 help desk for all migrant workers who could seek assistance by contacting the hotline.

Inquiries include the welfare of student populations, extension of visa permits, lack of financial support for the unemployed, non-payment of salaries, the closing down of commercial establishments and questions related to quarantine measures on arrival.

Dr. Anil Jasinghe, director general of Health Services, said that the number of coronavirus cases had risen to 110 with the detection of four new cases on Sunday.

Two of the four cases were arrivals from the south Indian city of Chennai, with Jasinghe saying that the government had requested all those flying in from Chennai to report to the nearest health facility for mandatory quarantine arrangements.

As an additional measure, the villages of Atulugama, Akurana and Kadayankulam have been placed under lockdown, while the districts of Colombo, Gampaha, Kalutara, Puttalam and Jaffna have been declared high-risk zones with a full-day curfew to continue in these areas until further notice.