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Thursday, February 22, 2024

Hakeem slams hate campaign against Muslims, Buddhist monks protest against Muslim owned clothing outlet

Hakeem slams hate campaign against Muslims
Leader of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress and Minister of Justice Rauff Hakeem has slammed the hate campaign being carried out by some Buddhist monks against Muslims and also expressed dismay over the inability of the police to contain a protest staged by monks in Maharagama yesterday.

Hakeem said that the derogatory references to the Muslims as a community, and the related isolated incidents that have taken place in different parts of the country in the recent past, are also a disturbing trend that ought to be reversed.

“I wish to convey my dismay and displeasure regarding the apathy displayed by the law and order machinery in not containing the spread of the hate campaign at Maharagama in front of a private business enterprise, yesterday. I also categorically condemn the hate campaigns against the Muslims and their business enterprises that are on the rise today in the country,” he said.

Hakeem said that law and order must be enforced to nip it in the bud and that the government is duty-bound to protect all communities equally including the weak and the vulnerable.

“At a time the country is recovering from a protracted thirty-years’ war, it is distressing to note that the conflict between ethnic communities are showing signs of flaring up again, aided and abetted by certain groups trying to discredit the government and the Sri Lankan State. We must act with restraint and tolerance, by not falling prey to vested interests that spread hate and religious bigotry and thereby inviting unwanted external interference.  I believe that this could also be part of a conspiracy to isolate Sri Lanka in the international arena. As intelligent citizens who love our motherland we must not pay heed to those promoting religious disharmony,” he said in a statement.

The police prevented a group of monks from storming into a clothes store in Maharagama yesterday following a demonstration.

Police spokesman SSP Priyashantha Jayakody told the Colombo Gazette that police protection was provided to the store during the tense situation which had occurred last afternoon.

The monks, who initially distributed leaflets to people on the street, then attempted to force their way into the Magaragam No-Limit clothes store.

However the police placed barricades and prevented the monks from going further. The monks burnt an effigy and then dispersed after having discussions with the police.

According to reports the monks had chanted anti-Muslim slogans and had wanted the store closed claiming it was being operated by Muslims. (Colombo Gazette)

Buddhist protest outside Maharagama  Muslim owned clothes store

Tension mounted in the Maharagama town last evening when a group of protesters called for the closure of a popular clothes store in the area.

Ven. Amatha Damma Thera, a spokesman for the Budhu Hiru organisation, said he took part in the protest because two Buddhist monks had been summoned to the Colombo Crime Division (CCD) following a complaint made by the shop’s management.

Heavy police presence outside the clothes store. Pic by Indika Handuwala

The shop management had lodged a complaint with the CCD after a group calling itself Budhu Hiru distributed leaflets inciting racial hatred and urging the people to boycott the store.

The shop management said that as a result of the hate campaign, they had suffered financial loss amounting to more than Rs. 5 million.

Maharagama police said they deployed more than 100 policemen to prevent any untoward incident.The protesters, numbering more than 500 people, dispersed after a member of the management apologised for making a complaint to the CCD.

Police Spokesman Prashantha Jayakody said no group had the right to call for the removal of any shop or establishment.
 Meanwhile Bodu Bala Sena in a statement said it was not involved in yesterday’s protest.


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