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* Sri Lanka government to crack down on extremist groups
Sun, Mar 31, 2013, 11:15 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Mar 31, Colombo: The Sri Lankan government is seeking a ban on nationalist and religious extremist groups disrupting the ethnic harmony in the country, a government minister has said.

In the wake of recent religious tensions in the country, Sri Lanka's Minister of National Language and Social Integration Vasudeva Nanayakkara is preparing to submit a Cabinet paper seeking a ban on extremist groups that are creating rifts between the ethnic and religious communities in the island.

The Minister told the English weekly Sunday Leader that the Cabinet paper is being drafted and will be submitted in two weeks' time.

According to the Minister, the Cabinet paper will seek to bring new laws to crack down on such groups, including the Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balaya and Sinhala Ravaya which spread hatred and disharmony among communities.

The Minister accusing the police of failing to take action against such groups despite them openly advocating hatred, has said that he had written to President Mahinda Rajapaksa regarding the hate campaigns targeting Muslims in the country.

"Under our constitution anyone can follow any religion they want. If people feel threatened then they should complain to the police and the police must take action or they can go to Court," he was quoted in the paper.

The Minister's comments to the newspaper came in the wake of the attack on a Muslim-owned clothing store in Pepiliyana on Thursday night by a Buddhist monks-led mob.

Leader of the Buddhist extremist group Bodu Bala Sena Ven. Galagodaaththe Gnanasara Thero denied that his organization was involved in the attack and urged the police to take immediate action to arrest the culprits of the attack.

However, the monks had openly spoken against the clothes store at a public rally recently, the newspaper said.

The attack prompted the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress leader and Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem to write to the President asking to reconvene an immediate Cabinet meeting to discuss the rising religious unrest and civil disturbance in the country.

In response to the attack the government said in a statement that it will take stern legal action against groups inciting racial and religious violence and urged the public to be vigilant of such groups.

The Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa vowed to take stern legal action against those who attempt to create unrest in the country using racism and religion and requested the public to inform such incidents to him.

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