South Asia

‘Strong political will needed’ to stop communal violence

Sri Lankan Muslims walk to safer places following attacks in June.   | Photo Credit: Eranga Jayawardena

Last month’s clashes had erupted following a rally organised by the hard-line Sinhala Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a group that was earlier in the forefront of a campaign against halal certification in Sri Lanka last year. Several Muslim-owned stores were torched, and suffered serious damage.

Pointing to “rising Muslim terrorism” in the country, the BBS has been justifying its actions as being necessary to “protect” Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

Terming such agenda “fascist ideology” Sri Lanka’s Justice Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader Rauf Hakeem said, “The Islamophobia found in the West is being copied and edited to suit the local context.”

“A community pushed against the wall like this will suddenly become a fertile ground for outside forces,” said Mr. Hakeem, whose SLMC is a constituent of President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s ruling coalition. Suggesting that the BBS enjoyed political patronage, he said the organisation was being given a licence to operate and that the government should get its act together.

“Until now, there seems to be inhibition on the part of the government to criticise this incident across the board,” he said, adding that not sufficient remorse had been expressed. He said the “hopeless state” of the Opposition in Sri Lanka forced him stay with the government and put pressure from within.

Responding to allegations of inadequate legal action following the clashes, he said the Justice Ministry could not function on its own and needed the support of guardians of law. “We need strong political will.”

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Printable version | Jun 19, 2021 11:08:39 AM |

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