[Protest of Sri Lanka Muslims]
Rising extremism is causing significant concern among minority communities in Sri Lanka, particularly Muslims, Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem said in Riyadh during an interview this week.
“This is an unfortunate trend that needs to be addressed with great seriousness,” said Hakeem, who is also the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress. He added that the tendency to engage in hate speech was continuously being tolerated without sufficient action being taken by the government to contain the situation.”
“The deliberate intimidation of minorities is certainly not promoting reconciliation following 30 years of prolonged war,” he said, stressing that extremist groups would only perpetuate polarization within society.
He warned that Sri Lanka’s progress following years of warring could be hindered if political leaders did not take serious measures to reign in the extremists.
“Unless remedial action is taken against these intolerant forces, the country could be further isolated from important international forums,” he said.
“We have backed the government in facing its challenges at the Geneva Forum in 2012. However, the growing level of religious extremism is causing concern for the Muslim community and we will be simply driven to seek international sympathy to resolve this communal issue,” Hakeem said. He added that the “rule of law should be strictly followed in the country. No one can be above the law, whether he is a Buddhist monk or a member of the clergy from any other community”.
When asked about the Presidential Elections tentatively scheduled for January 2015, Hakeem said that his party, SLMC, has not still decided on its stance on this topic for the forthcoming elections.
“We will obtain a consensus from all committees of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress as well as the Muslim community in general to decide our position in the elections,” he said.
Hakeem, who arrived in the Kingdom on a private visit to perform umrah, was accompanied by Naseer Ahamed, Northern Provincial Council Agriculture Minister.
During his visit to Riyadh, the two ministers, along with country’s ambassador, Mohamed Hussein Mohamed, met Deputy Minister for International Trade Dr. Abdullah Al-Obaid, as well as the Deputy Minister for Research and Agricultural Development.