Foreign Minister G.L. Peiris hosted a working dinner for the Heads of Mission of Islamic States in Colombo on 30 November. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa also joined the occasion as Guest of Honour.
The Minister exchanged views with the Islamic envoys on the constructive role played by the Sri Lankan Muslim community both historically and in the recent political and social life in the country. This enriching interaction with the Muslim community of Sri Lanka extends to the most cordial relations Sri Lanka enjoys with the Islamic states of the international community.
The Minister stated that Sri Lanka will continue to uphold its rich democratic tradition as a society where every person irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or race enjoys the freedom to express their identity by practising their own religion, culture and language. This is also reflected in the rich and varied legal tradition of Sri Lanka, which includes personal laws specific to Muslim, Kandyan and Tamil communities, which Sri Lanka will continue to retain.
“In recent years, as in other parts of the world, fringe groups of extremists in the name of various faiths have tried to disrupt this social harmony and create confusion in our society, including through the misuse of modern communication technology and ungoverned access to social media,” the Minister said.
The Minister also explained to the Islamic envoys the legislative steps currently underway to curb such hate speech.
The envoys present agreed that diversity of religion and culture was a strength to Sri Lanka and expressed confidence in the measures taken by the Government to clarify ambiguities spread by extreme elements, as well as other recent progressive steps relevant to the Muslim community. They expressed their solidarity with Sri Lanka in these efforts as well as their cooperation in overcoming the challenges related to economic recovery and progress.
The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister thanked the envoys for the open and constructive discussion, and for their goodwill towards Sri Lanka.
The following envoys joined the working dinner – The Ambassadors of Sultanate of Oman, The State of Palestine, The Kingdom of the Saudi Arabia, Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, The State of Qatar, The Republic of Turkey; The High Commissioners of Malaysia, Republic of Maldives, The People’s Republic of Bangladesh; the Actg. High Commissioner of Islamic Republic of Pakistan; Charge D’Affaires of State of Libya, The Arab Republic of Egypt, State of Kuwait, Islamic Republic of Iran, and United Arab Emirates.