Muslims in Sri Lanka have said that the storming of the Jumma Mosque of Dambulla by a gang may negatively impact the reconciliation process among communities. The Jamiyathul Ulama has called upon Muslims to collectively hold a fast on Thursday and on Friday against the incident.
The All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulama (ACJU) , an umbrella organization of Muslims in Sri Lanka said on Wednesday that while justice should be sought by legal means, Muslims should refrain from disrupting law and order by holding improper demonstrations causing inconvenience to the public and damaging public property.
It has appealed to males to gather outside the mosques in their respective areas following Friday prayers and continue with prayers requesting “Allah to show the straight path to those responsible for the wrongdoings and also protect those who are in just and upright.”
ACJU has said that it does not organize public protests or Harthals as a principle.
Meanwhile the Government Department of Information in a press communiqué said that the president, prime minister and the cabinet of ministers are concerned of the sensitivities of all communities and it has been decided to complete the Dambulla sacred city development plan without further delay.
The communiqué further mentioned that a wide section of religious leaders, political leaders and security personal have been consulted on the matter and action will be taken without discrimination towards any of the parties involved.
Meanwhile a number of civil society activists and intellectuals have condemned the “violent attack on the mosque in Dambulla’.
The signatories maintain that the mosque has been in existence for over 60 years and appeals to the President, state institutions and officials, and those in the executive to take appropriate action on the incident in Dambulla.
Anti-war campaigner Vishaka Dharmadasa who was among the signatories said: “we have just come out of a long drawn war and as Buddhist we need to tolerate all religions.”
Resolving Dambulla dispute awaits President’s return (and International pressure )
Lands and Land Development Minister Janaka Bandara Tennekoon said yesterday that the allegations made against him by the Chief Incumbent of the Dambulla Raja Maha Viharaya, Ven Inamaluwe Sri Sumangala Thera that he had sold land belonging to the Pooja Bhoomi (sacred area) of the viharaya were baseless and he was contemplating legal action against the Thera.
He said that the Thera had publicly accused him of having a hand in giving out a land belonging to the Raja Maha Viharaya to outsiders where a mosque had been built fuelling a controversy.
The Minister told a news conference that that there were some Muslim families who were occupying the temple land for many decades and they had deeds for those lands.
“Even as a small boy I could remember these families occupying blocks of the said land though it belonged to the state,” he said.
This was an issue which could have been nipped in the bud and now it had gone too far and the international community was pressuring the government, Tennekoon said.
“I don’t want to get involved in this imbroglio”, he said adding that he had already instructed the relevant authorities to act according to the plan of the “Pooja Bhoomi” which had been amended twice, first during the time the late President Premadasa over saw the Urban Development Authority and subsequently when UDA was under Minister Dinesh Gunawardena,” he said.
Tennekoon said a meeting was planned to be held on April 23 in Dambulla where the Maha Nayaka of Asgiriya, Secretary Buddha Sasana Ministry, the District Secretary Dambulla, Mayor of Dambulla, Trustees of the mosque and other officials were to participate and due to the unrest in Dambulla over the mosque issue it was not held.
He said once the President returns from his official visit to Korea, guidance would be sought from him on the issue.
BY Harischandra Gunaratna