COLOMBO: The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) has strongly objected to the statement made by the Minister of Justice Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe in Parliament on Friday, saying that 32 Sri Lankan Muslims had left the country to join the ISIS in Syria.
MCSL President N M Ameen said the Minister's statement implied that 32 Muslims had joined the ISIS recently, when actually he was only repeating a story which had appeared more than a year ago in July 2015.
"We strongly object to this misplaced statement. The facts given by the Minister were reported in the media more than a year ago when a Sri Lankan combatant died fighting with ISIS," Ameen said.
“There have been no new reports of any others getting involved since this was reported last year," he pointed out.
"It is believed that one family had gone to Syria to provide humanitarian support to the war wounded and refugees. Some of the men are alleged to have joined or forced to join the fighting forces of ISIS. The Muslim community, including the Muslim Council, Jamiathul Ulema and other organizations cooperated with the government in identifying the families to provide the necessary support for the intelligence agencies to investigate.”
Women and children too had gone to Syria, he said.
The Minister's statement comes at a very opportune time for certain extremist elements bent on tarnishing the image of the Muslim community for reasons only best known to them, Ameen pointed out.
According to him, the Thableeq Jamath, Sunnath Jamath, Thowheed Jamath and Jamaithe Islam and several other organizations are Muslim religious and social service organizations.
"They do not promote any form of violence as implied by Wijedasa Rajapakshe. Certain parts of his statement are verbatim repetition of the hate speech spewed by the extremist Buddhist priest Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero," Ameen charged.
"The Muslims of Sri Lanka has a long history of peaceful co-existence and have stood with the Sri Lankans at good times and at times of adversity. The entire Muslim community has condemned the un-Islamic comments of the Secretary of the Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath, Abdul Razick. Twenty-three Muslim Religious and Civil Society organizations headed by the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema issued a statement condemning the speech made by SLTJ’s Secretary.”
"As alleged by the Minister, no Muslim international school invites extremists to indoctrinate its children with fundamentalism. We urge Wijedasa Rajapakshe to provide evidence and take immediate action against anyone who may have violated the laws of the land irrespective of ethnicity or religion.”
"The Muslim community is seriously alarmed about the re-emergence of the racist campaign that was carried out by extremist Buddhist monks since the end of the war in 2009. Many youth too have started social media campaigns against the Muslim community. The statements made by the Minster would only help to disturb peace and promote the interests of certain vested interests to destroy our country.”
"We urge the Minister and the Government to investigate this and take appropriate action. We also urge the government to take immediate steps to halt all forms of extremism and restore peace and harmony for all Sri Lankans," the MCSL President said.