Sri Lanka’s main Muslim party on Friday apologized for an anti-religious statement made in the run up to elections in September, a statement released by its leader said. Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader and Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem apologized for a statement made regarding Buddhist monks engaging in politics and insisted that his words were maliciously taken out of context.
“With no further attempts at procrastination, I wish to tender an unreserved apology to all Buddhists of Sri Lanka. I specifically request the Buddhist prelates of Sri Lanka to accept this apology for which I, as the Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress take personal responsibility,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.
Hakeem went onto stress that he has always stood for pluralism and religious tolerance in Sri Lanka’s diverse ethnic composition and that he would continue to do so.
The Muslim Congress is independently contesting upcoming Provincial Council elections in the eastern part of the country where a large Muslim population resides.
Hakeem’s statements drew much criticism with Cabinet spokesman and Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella who called on politicians to stop campaigning on religious and ethnic lines.
“Voters must make their decisions regarding policies and development decisions made by the government. As the ruling party we are completely against politicians spreading religious tension around the country,” he said at a media conference.
In 2009, Sri Lanka ended a three decade war that was caused by ethnic tension between the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils