Sept 07, Colombo: Justice Minister of Sri Lanka Rauf Hakeem says that a minority within the majority are holding the entire populace in helpless anxiety, while driving the hapless minorities into servile insularity.
Hakeem, the Leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), referring to a comment made by the Defense Secretary on the Muslim community told the media in a statement Friday that it is the intransigence and intolerance of a minority within the majority that has caused insularity among the minority communities.
Delivering the keynote address at the Defense Seminar 2013 in Colombo the Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa said that there are some foreign groups that wish to encourage Sri Lankan Muslims to identify themselves more with the global Muslim community, thereby reducing their integration with the rest of the population.
"It is a known fact that Muslim fundamentalism is spreading all over the world and in this region. This is a situation that our law enforcement agencies and security forces are concerned about, particularly as there have been instances where extremist elements have been in transit in Sri Lanka prior to arrest and handing over to appropriate authorities. The possibility that such extremist elements may try to promote Muslim extremism in Sri Lanka is a cause for concern." Rajapaksa said.
In response to Rajapaksa's speech, Hakeem said that the cogency and the relevance of Defense Secretary's statement in contemporary domestic and global contexts are understandable.
"There is indeed a phenomenon of rising consciousness in the Islamic world, which is seen as 'Muslim fundamentalism' or 'Militant Islam' mainly by the non-Islamic world."
According to Hakeem, the "most eloquent" example is that of the Islamic Republic of Iran, which has become the global enemy-number-one of the United States of America.
"This same nation has extremely cordial relations with Sri Lanka. Similarly, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan too are also often unfairly projected in a negative light globally, despite their State actions against militant extremism, but, they remain sincere friends of Sri Lanka who voted in favor of our country at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva," Hakeem noted.
Hakeem said "The vicious cycle of greater fragmentation of the Sri Lankan identity can only be halted only when the State that is uniformly protective of all its people, leaving matters of religion and culture in the hands of the respective peoples and groups, as is the case of all enlightened democracies."
"Surely, our nation state is mature enough to discern the difference between coexistence and subsistence." the Minister added.
Leaders of both major Muslim parties in Sri Lanka, Minister Hakeem of SLMC and Minister Rishad Bathiyutheen of ACMC deplored the Secretary Rajapaksa's statement.