Colombo, June 8 (newsin.asia): The Leader of the Opposition and former Sri Lankan President, Mahinda Rajapaksa, on Saturday called upon the island’s Muslim community to stop the Arabization of their culture and return to the traditional Sri Lankan Muslim culture.
Rajapaksa said this at a meeting with the nine Muslim leaders who had quit the Council of Ministers in protest against the persecution of their community following the April 21 suicide bombings carried out by the Jehadi National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ).
Rajapaksa said that while the Sirsena-Wickremsinghe government has failed to protect innocent Muslims, the Muslims as a community should also do some introspection and ask what they themselves had done to incur the people’s wrath.
When the ex-Ministers pointed out that they had complained about the extremists to the police, Rajapaksa said that the problem was deeper than the activities of a few Jehadists. It grew as a result of the increasing Arabization of the community and the gradual loss of the community’s Sri Lankan identity, he argued.
Arabization had alienated the Muslim community from the other communities in Sri Lanka, he said. He made it clear that the distancing brought about by Arabization would hamper reconciliation.
When the Muslim leaders said that the Arabic element is part of Muslim culture, Rajapaksa said that Sri Lankan Muslims had their own indigenous culture and its Arabization started only ten or 15 years ago. He said he knows what traditional Muslim culture is, because in his home district Hambantota, there is a significant Muslim community.
The ex-Ministers (their resignations had been accepted by the government and gazetted) slurred over the issue but appealed to Rajapaksa, who they described as a “powerful and influential” leader, to lend his voice to the call for protecting the Muslims from persecution.
To this Rajapaksa said that he is already doing it, but pointed out that the task of protecting the people is that of the government.
En-masse Resignation Slammed
However, Rajapaksa told the ex-Muslim ministers that they should also cooperate. In this context he pointed out that by resigning en-masse, the Ministers had further communalized the issue and increased the rift between the Muslims and other communities.
The four Mahanayakes or chiefs of the Buddha Sasana have also appealed to the Muslim Ministers to get back to their posts.