Sri Lanka party calls for calm over disputed mosque
Colombo: The main Muslim party in Sri Lanka on Sunday said a disputed mosque in a north central town should not be relocated without the consensus among the community leaders and called for calm over the issue.
The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leaders await a meeting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa to sort out the issue with the Buddhist majority which claims that the mosque is constructed in a designated Buddhist heritage site.
"We took the public position that mosque should not be relocated without the consensus among the Muslim leadership," the SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem said.
"We roundly condemned the incident. We noted the wide spread protests and wish to appeal to maintain calm", Hakeem added.
A noisy demonstration led by a powerful Buddhist monk in the area on April 20 demanded the removal of what they termed a Muslim prayer room.
They asked the authorities to relocate the site outside the declared holy Buddhist religious zone.
Hakeem, who is also the minister of justice in the ruling coalition, said his party`s policy making High Command met yesterday to deliberate on the mosque dispute.
The party leaders hope to meet the President with other Muslim members of the Cabinet.
The dispute led to a day of protest in the Muslim dominated areas of the eastern province on Thursday and Friday after Sri Lankan government said on April 23 that the disputed mosque would be re-located within six months following protests by the Buddhists.
Whilst Buddhists consist of 74 percent of Sri Lanka`s 20 million population, Muslims comprise seven percent.
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