Extremists took remarks as state endorsement: Muslim Council writes to Gota

Friday, 6 September 2013 03:33 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka yesterday reacted to remarks made by Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa saying hardline groups had taken the statement as an endorsement of the state’s approval of their stand against the Muslim community. Delivering a keynote address on Tuesday (3 September) Secretary Rajapaksa said Sri Lanka was facing new threats from Muslim extremist groups and added that insularity among minority communities was hampering integration and resulting in the emergence of hardline groups from the majority community. Reacting to the speech the same day, the Bodu Bala Sena organisation in a media release welcomed the Defence Secretary’s remark as an “important victory” in its ideological battle. In a letter to the Defence Secretary, the Muslim Council said Muslims were deeply disappointed and concerned at media reports about his speech and urged him to kindly clarify his statements. “The extremist elements that have been propagating hatred against the minority communities have taken your statement as an endorsement of the State’s approval of their stand on extremism amongst the Muslim community,” the council said in its letter to Rajapaksa. The council told the Defence Secretary that the Muslim community has “without any hesitation” stood by the Sri Lankan State throughout the 30 year conflict and never resorted to any form of armed resistance. “There exists no form of armed or other forms of extremism amongst the Muslim community,” the Muslim Council said. The Muslim Council said the Defence Secretary’s concerns about extremists using Sri Lanka as a transit point may be valid. “But we would like to assure you that the Muslim community would never allow extremists from other countries to operate under cover of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka,” the Council said in its letter. They said the Muslim Community welcomes any investigation by the law enforcement agencies and take appropriate action against any persons who may violate the laws of the land or support any form of armed extremism irrespective of their religious beliefs. The council assured the Defence Secretary of the Muslim community’s unstinted commitment to the peace and prosperity of the country.