July 27, Colombo: Hundreds of Muslims in Sri Lanka took to the streets today in the capital Colombo to express support to the government minister who has been ordered to appear before courts for allegedly threatening a judge and demand justice to the Muslim IDPs in the country.
Thousands of Muslims in many other parts of the country also protested in their local areas following Friday Jumma prayers to support the Industries and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen.
In response to a contempt of court case filed by a group of seven lawyers yesterday over the Minister's alleged attempt to thwart the course of justice by intimidating a Magistrate and trying to revoke the magistrate's ruling, the Appeals Court ordered the Minister to personally appear before the court on the 5th of September to show cause why he should not be punished for contempt of court.
The Minister is accused of challenging the Mannar magistrate for issuing an order preventing Muslim fishermen from rights to a fisheries harbor in Mannar.
The protesters in the capital shouting slogans and holding placards walked to the President's office after Friday prayers and handed over a petition to President Mahinda Rajapaksa in support of the Minister.
The protesting Muslims said there is a considerable number of displaced Muslims in the Northern Province and that the issues faced by them need to be addressed.
They praised Minister Bathiyutheen for protecting the rights of Muslims in Mannar and urged the government to solve the hardships faced by the Muslims there and also release the 13 Muslims arrested during the Mannar incident for vandalizing the court complex.
The petition said: "As your Excellency is aware the Northern Province was cleansed of Muslims by the LTTE in 1990 in order to make the North a mono ethnic region following their policy to declare Tamil Eelam. Having languished well over two decades away from their homes these Northern Muslims Victims have now started returning from their suffering in refugee camps in Puttalam and other districts to their original places of abode following the dawn of peace with the defeat of the LTTE under your Excellency's farsighted leadership."
"However, LTTE sympathizers who include certain so called religious dignitaries and high state officials in their attempt to resurrect the LTTE by their organized activities locally and abroad are all-out to stymie the resettlement of the battered Muslim Victims in line with the policies of the LTTE. The Mannar/Uppukulam episode which is a product of their strategy to achieve their end has, as the unfolding events now reveal, contained within itself a sinister plan to eliminate the singular voice of the Northern Muslims - Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen."
"Unfortunately sections of the Media that had until the elimination of terrorism functioned under the sponsorship of the vested interested group have contributed enormously to print a picture with respect to the Mannar incident which is opposite the truth. In this regard we are annexing a copy of the letter addressed to the Bar Association of Sri Lanka by the Board of Trustees and members of the Jamath of Al Azhar Jummah Masjid which gives a vivid picture of events that led to the Mannar incident and the controversial conduct of the Mannar magistrate which created the mayhem."
"Thanks to the police on whom saner counsel prevailed thus avoiding loss of life. It is astonishing to note that notwithstanding the situation created in Mannar which is now public knowledge with video proof no action has been initiated against the Magistrate by the authorities, whereas a lot of noise has been made with regard to the one sided allegation mage by the Judge whose conduct has come into question. Under these circumstances we appeal to your Excellency to appoint a Commission of Inquiry into the whole episode in Mannar on the 18th July 2012 and events and incidents thereafter.
"We also humbly urge that 13 innocent Muslims be released on humanitarian grounds who were arrested without any fair reason. We also appeal your Excellency to put in place an effective mechanism to expeditiously resettle the Northern Muslims."