Muslims hail SLMC-LTTE agreement

[TamilNet, Wednesday, 17 April 2002, 22:31 GMT]
(News Feature) Sri Lanka’s Muslim community this week welcomed the landmark agreement signed between the largest Muslim party, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and the Liberation Tigers. Mr Vellupillai Pirapaharan, leader of the LTTE, met with Mr Rauf Hakeem, leader of the SLMC last weekend and the two leaders agreed to cooperate closely on affairs related to Sri Lanka's Muslim community.

The Kattankudi Mosques and Islamic Traders Association Wednesday welcomed the meeting and praised the LTTE leader for recognising and allaying the concerns of the Muslim community. “We praise Mr Pirabakaran’s bravery for inviting Muslim representatives to [resolve the problems],” a statement issued by the civic organisation said. The statement concluded with a prayer and urged rebel Muslim leaders to support the SLMC in taking these steps.

LTTE political officials in the east of the island engaged in political work under the terms of the indefinite ceasefire were given a rapturous welcome in Muslim areas, press reports said Wednesday. In the town of Amparai and the predominantly Muslim town of Kalmunai political representatives of the Liberation Tigers received in much the same way as in the rest of the north and east. They were taken in a procession from Periya Naalavanai, led by a student band from the Kalmunai Karmel Fatima National College.

A large crowd, made up mostly of Muslims, mobbed the cadres as they went into Kalmunai where District Secretary A L M Falees received them there with garlands and handshakes. In Maruthamunai, Muslim residents expressed their support by exploding fire crackers, press reports said.

SLMC official Noordeen Mashoor who attended the meeting with the Liberation Tigers last weekend announced that meetings with the government agents for Mullaitivu, Mannar and Vavuniya would take place soon to look into the matter of resettling displaced Muslims from the north and east.

Mashoor, who is also Sri Lanka’s Minister for Vanni Rehabilitation, said the agreement signed between the Tamil Tigers and the Muslim Congress was a watershed event. “Efforts to resettle these people will be speeded up after Mr Pirapakaran’s personal appeal. Around 30,000 families are currently displaced. Measures to resettle them will be in place once discussions between Government Agents and refugee officials are complete,” said Mr Masoor.

"As a result of Saturday's talks, solutions to several problems faced by Muslims have been found," Mr. Hakeem said on the weekend. "This will calm the apprehension among our [Muslim] people about the peace process."

“A joint committee comprising representatives of LTTE and SLMC would be appointed to co-ordinate affairs related to the return of displaced Jaffna Muslims to their own homes," he said.

Mr Hakeem is expected to meet Norway’s deputy foreign minister Vidar Helgesan and Ambassador John Westborg during their visit to Batticaloa Thursday. They are to travel by helicopter to the east, following their meeting with the LTTE at Kilinochchi on Wednesday.

 

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