Sinhala nationalists urge crack down on Muslim groups

[TamilNet, Tuesday, 12 April 2005, 17:32 GMT]
Sinhala Buddhist nationalists Tuesday protested in Colombo, urging the Government of Sri Lanka to crack down on Islamic groups that are opposing the construction of Buddha’s statues in some Muslim towns and villages on the island’s southeast coast. Hundreds of Buddhist monks and their lay supporters marched to the Ministry of Buddha Sasana to condemn the “anti Buddhist activities of Muslim extremists”. The Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and several civil society groups have opposed the construction of Buddha’s statues in Muslim areas on the southeast coast.


Condemn the anti Buddhist activities of Muslim extremists reads the banner

They charge that the Special Task Force, the elite counter insurgency arm of the Sri Lankan armed forces, is actively encouraging Sinhala Buddhist nationalist groups to construct large Buddha statues and to settle Singhalese in Muslim areas on Sri Lanka’s southeast coast such as Pottuvil and Ullai.

The protestors in Colombo claimed in a memorandum submitted to the Buddha Sasana Ministry Tuesday that Islamic fundamentalists and armed Muslim extremists inciting violence against legitimate Buddhist activities in the Pottuvil region. The memorandum points out that Government of Sri Lanka took no action when it was informed of the clandestine activities of the armed Muslim extremist groups. It also implies that one of these militant Islamic groups may have been involved in the attack on two Policemen in Kalmunai this weekend.

Muslims are forcibly taking land that rightfully belongs to Buddhist temples on the southeast coast, the memorandum alleges.

“Every inch of the east traditionally belongs to Buddhists. Sinhala kings settled Muslims in the east to save them from the Portuguese. How can they now say that we have no right to put up Buddha’s statues there?” asks the memorandum. This was reflected in the speeches that the Buddhist monks who led the march made at the Buddha Sasana Ministry.

The protest was organized by Jathika Hela Urumaya, an extremist Sinhala Buddhist organization which has representation in Sri Lanka’s Parliament.

 

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