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* Religious leaders in Sri Lanka call for restraint and tolerance as clashes leave three dead
Mon, Jun 16, 2014, 08:46 pm SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

June 16, Colombo: Following violent clashes between the Sinhala Buddhists amd Muslims in two southern coastal towns of Sri Lanka on Sunday that resulted in the deaths of three Muslims, top religious leaders in the country today urged the public to restrain and observe tolerance to dispel the growing religious intolerance in the island nation.

Leading Buddhist monks joined the Muslim religious leaders today to stress the importance of consolidating peace and harmony among all ethnic groups without any racial or religious differences after the country has just recovered from a three-decade long ethnic war.

The Religious Organization for National Unity at the press briefing said the unrest among the Sinhalese Buddhists and Muslims in the Beruwala and Aluthgama areas should be dispelled immediately.

Expressing regret over the loss of life and property suffered by Muslims as a result of the violence at a media briefing organized by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka today, Venerable, Professor Kamburugamuwa Vajira Thero, said the Sinhala Buddhists and Hindus as well as the Muslim people have been living in unity in Sri Lanka for many years and what the country needs today is unity among all communities, not the divisions.

The violence erupted in the two coastal towns where a large number of Muslims live following an anti-Muslim demonstration by the hardline Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena resulted in the deaths of three Muslims and injuries to over 80 others. Scores of shops and properties owned by the Muslims were damaged or burned in the two towns.

The venerable Thero pointed out that the creation of ethnic clashes is tremendously disadvantageous to the country on the international scale. Only the antigovernment forces will take advantage of such situations, he said.

He warned that some groups may attempt to use the Aluthgama and Beruwala incident to create tensions and communal disharmony in Sri Lanka and urged the public not to fall prey to such attempts.

Rev. Father Sarath Hettiarachchi said that no room should be allowed to create large scale conflicts by making use of such small incidents. All ethnic groups should strive to safeguard peace, he urged.

Muslim leader Maulavi Maulana pointed out the need to safeguard peace and inter-ethnic harmony as it is crucial for the advancement of the country.

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