[ Muslim fundamentalism has come to SriLanka?)
A number of Muslim academics and activists are urging authorities to ensure a thorough and fair investigation of the harassment of family members of a journalist and social worker from the Eastern Province, over her opinion on sex workers.
The statement bearing over 50 signatories said they are distressed and dismayed at the incidents of harassment against Sharmila Seyyid, who in 2012 in an interview with the Tamil Radio Service of the BBC voiced her opinion that sex workers may be better protected if prostitution was legalised.
This drew a significant backlash from a section of the Muslim community in the area and elsewhere prompting her to issue a clarification, in which she emphasised that she was “…only highlighting a social reality and did not intend to defy Islamic tenets”. She also expressed “regret if she had unwittingly hurt anyone’s sentiments”, the statement said.
“The harassment and intimidation that began in the aftermath of the 2012 interview has resulted in her having to leave the country, and continues to this day, impacting other family members as well,” the academics said.
They urge authorities to hold a fair and thorough investigation with regard to the complaints received by the aggrieved parties and hold accountable those responsible for misconduct.
“While we acknowledge that prostitution is prohibited in Islam (as in many other religions), we nevertheless uphold that Ms. Seyyid is within her rights and freedoms to express her personal views; and condemn all forms of harassment, intimidation and hatred by vigilante groups and individuals that are justified based on claims to the above,” the statement said.