Lankan Muslims need understanding from Sinhalese: Social group



Colombo: Amid recent tensions between Sri Lanka's Sinhala majority and the Muslim community, an Islamic civil society group has called for better understanding of the minority's cultural and religious practises.

NM Ameen, the head of Sri Lanka Muslim Council, told reporters today that misunderstandings have led to an uneasy feeling among the 8 per cent Muslims of the island's 20 million population.

Extremist Sinhala organisations like Bodu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya, in the recent weeks have stirred up an anti-Muslim campaign in the island.

Alarm bells rang out when the Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Force) attempted to storm a department store owned by Muslims as part of its campaign to prevail on the majority Sinhalese to boycott Muslim businesses, last month.

Ali Sabry, a leading lawyer said that distortions of the 'Halal' ritual were being spread.

The practice was described by the Sinhala extremist groups as one to make the Muslim community richer.

"There is no jihad or any idea of it among the Muslims", Ameen added saying that if there was such a thing, the state intelligence services would have found out by now.

Sensing the gravity of the situation, President Mahinda Rajapaksa had also discussed the issue with the groups and asked them to promote inter-communal harmony in the country as it undergoes transformation in its post-conflict phase.

The island's main Muslim leader and the Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem had also urged the authorities to nip the Muslim hatred in the bud.

Generally, Sri Lanka's Muslim minority co-exists peacefully with the Sinhalese in most urban and semi-urban areas.

PTI