The Joint Opposition laid the blame for rising anti-Muslim sentiment squarely on President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s shoulders yesterday, after the Bodu Bala Sena held a massive anti-Halal demonstration in Weeraketiya, in the Hambantota District on Saturday (2).
Addressing a media briefing of the UNP led Vipakshaye Virodhaya, Colombo Mayor A.J.M. Muzammil said the town in the deep south was Rajapaksa country.Weeraketiya is in the heart of the President’s kingdom,” he charged.
Muzammil said that the Government had made no move to prevent the anti-Muslim rally in Weeraketiya even though it was clearly well within their power to do so. He stated that the President was making statements about fostering harmony between communities but took no action when it came to anti-Muslim sentiment spreading in the heart of his electorate.
The Colombo Mayor said that the message to the rest of the island was clear by the Government’s inaction in the south.
“It is a clear license for the anti-Muslim groups to hold these rallies and demonstrations anywhere in the country – if it can be held in Weeraketiya where the Government enjoys the most support,” Muzammil said.
The Colombo Mayor charged that the protest in Weeraketiya proved there was more to the anti-Halal movement than meets the eye.
“The Government is failing in the handling of the Halal issue,” Muzammil told the media.
He said that it was regrettable that the Government was dismissing the compromise offered by the All Ceylon Jamaiythul Ulama (ACJU) for the Halal certification process to be taken over by a State institution.
“How can the Government say it doesn’t involve itself in religious matters when it facilitates the Haj Pilgrimage with the Muslim ministers every year?” the Mayor queried.