An alliance member of the Sri Lankan government on Saturday decided to support protests against a decision to relocate a mosque in central Sri Lanka. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress which has members in the Sri Lankan cabinet, met for several hours to decide its position on the mosque issue.
Following the meeting, party leader and Justice Minister in the government Rauf Hakeem told reporters that his party had decided the mosque should not be relocated without a consensus from the Muslim religious leaders.
The Sri Lankan government decided to relocate the mosque in Dambulla after monks in the area protested and stormed the premises last week, claiming it was an unauthorized building.
The monks demanded that the mosque be relocated as it was operating within an area declared as sacred Buddhist land.
The sentiments were echoed by the Jathika Hela Urumaya, a Buddhist political party which also has members in the cabinet.
However the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress said it will oppose any move to shift the mosque and will raise its opposition with President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“We have taken a public position that the mosque should not be relocated without consensus among the Muslim leadership,” he said.
On Friday, thousands of Muslims around the country staged protests against the decision to move the mosque.
The government warned earlier this week that there was an attempt to use the mosque issue to create divisions between religious communities in the country.