Sri Lanka: Mosque dispute not prompting Muslim party`s withdrawal
Colombo: The dispute over a Dambulla mosque and government`s plans to relocate it have not gone down well with Sri Lanka`s Muslims but the country`s main Muslim party is not contemplating leaving the government over the issue.
Rauff Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress told reporters that he believed President Mahinda Rajapaksa was an experienced and mature leader and so there was no question of SLMC leaving the ruling coalition.
Hakeem said the mosque issue had created "a lot of discussion within the government", among its Muslim ministers.
"But, it need not end up in divorce," Hakeem said.
SLMC has only 8 members in the Rajapaksa government which holds a two thirds majority in the 225 member Assembly.
The Muslim leader stressed that they are opposed to the relocation of the mosque at Dambulla but would want the issue settled through peaceful means with Rajapaksa`s intervention.
The powerful Buddhist clergy on April 20 demanded the demolition of the mosque, triggering protests from the Muslim minority.
Buddhists claim the mosque is located in the midst of a holy zone declared by the state.
Muslims argue that it existed long before the holy Buddhist zone came to be declared.
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