Radical Buddhists need to be restrained: Lankan minister

Rauf Hakeem

Rauf Hakeem

Sri Lankan Justice Minister Rauf Hakeen called on his government to bring the perpetrators of recent violence in the country to justice.

He lamented that those responsible for waging anti-Muslim violence were roaming free and stressed need to arrest them to restore law and order, the minister said while speaking with Arab News in Colombo.

“The organization and the person who instigated the violence have not been held accountable for their crime,” Hakim said. He praised the Mahinda Rajapaksa government’s efforts for taking relief measures. Hakeem, who is also the leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), said Muslim families living in remote areas felt insecure in the aftermath of recent incidents of violence.

“A radical group is responsible for all this and unless they are properly dealt with, Muslims cannot live in peace in the country,” he said, recalling the group has been involved in sporadic attacks against Muslims over the past two years.

He regretted that religious worshipping places were also attacked. Security forces are deployed to maintain law and order in the country and there is a legal system to address citizens’ concerns.

“The Muslim community in the island is outraged, angered and frustrated by the violence,” Hakeem said and hoped the government would take action to stop recurrences of violence in the island.

Around 10 percent of the country’s 20 million population are Muslims, most of whom had formed an effective vote bank for the ruling government, but the recent incident has reduced support, due to loss of confidence in the government, Hakim said.

He stressed, “The rule of law should be strictly followed; no one can be above the law, whether he is a Buddhist or a member any other community.” He said despite the violence unleashed by the radical group, the moderate Sinhalese are for communal harmony and want to co-exist peacefully with other communities in the island.

Sri Lanka has in recent times witnessed a spate of violence against the country’s Muslims, the latest being on June 15 when the ultranationalist Buddhist Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS) provoked a rally to violence that left at least four Muslims dead, 80 injured and many houses, both residential and business, destroyed in the town of Aluthgama and surrounding areas.









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