June 29, Colombo: The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) today welcomed Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa's assertion to take stern action against spreading religious intolerance through social media.
The MCSL said the Defense Secretary's clear statement explicitly affirming that the government and law enforcement authorities would not tolerate hate speech or hate campaigns through social media, is long overdue and important action that needs to be strictly enforced with immediate effect.
Secretary Rajapaksa Saturday ordered the authorities to take stern action against individuals who are inciting racial and religious hatred using social media.
"Your timely action will send a clear message to all Sri Lankans and the international community that you will not tolerate targeting of minorities in the country," Hilmy Ahamed, Vice President of the MCSL said in a letter to the Defense Secretary and published in Colombo Telegraph.
"This important statement of yours confirms your commitment to ensure that Sri Lanka does not slide back to the violent past that gripped the country during the 30 years of ethnic conflict and terrorism. This also sends a clear message to the peace loving Buddhists who are the silent majority that you do not condone racism and have no role in the hate campaign. It will encourage all peace loving citizens to condemn intolerance and violence," the Muslim Council wrote to the Defense Secretary.
The Council urged the Defense Secretary to also extend the prohibition of hate speech to mainstream media and public gatherings.
Authorities have alleged that rumors and false information are being spread through text messages and anti-Muslim and anti-Buddhist Facebook accounts raising inflammatory sentiments to destabilize the country.
The MCSL requested the Defense Secretary to inquire in to the violence in Aluthgama and Beruwala on the 15th and 16th of June 2014 and bring the instigators and perpetrators of violence to justice and ensure that the rule of law prevails equally for all.
The Muslim Council pointed out that the two days of violence that occurred in Aluthgama and Beruwala destroyed the stability and investor confidence that has been established.
"We, as Sri Lankans need to work together to ensure that violence of any form will never be repeated, and support rebuilding the image of Sri Lanka as a peaceful, stable, multi-religious and multi-cultural nation," the Muslim Council said.