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Muslims see Norway hand in religious tensions

Muslim groups today accused Norway of inciting the tensions which arose between Buddhist monks and Muslims in the country recently.

Speaking at a press briefing convened by the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka today, former Ambassador to Iran M.M. Zuhair claimed that officials of the Norwegian Embassy in Colombo had even met some extremist groups .

He said the Embassy had however subsequently denied the claims. The former Ambassador said that foreign governments should stay clear of Sri Lanka’s internal maters.

The Muslim Council meanwhile denied claims that the Muslim population in Sri Lanka is increasing rapidly.

It was that claim which was used by Buddhist monks recently to stage anti-Muslim demonstrations in parts of the country.

The monks also staged protests against the Halal certification being issued in Sri Lanka.

President of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka N.M. Ameen said that it was possible that the anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka was being whipped up in the run up to the UN Human Rights Council sessions in March.

It may be an attempt to ensure Sri Lanka loses the support of the Muslim member states of the Council, he said.

President’s Counsel Ali Sabry who also addressed the media today, said that they could not rule out an Israeli hand in the tension, since Israel was constantly attempting to de-stablize Muslim communities around the world.

The Council members said that out of 15 member states that voted against the US backed resolution against Sri Lanka in Geneva last year, 11 were Muslim nations.

“Some like Saudi Arabia and Qatar, are staunch US allies,” Sabry said.

The Council also debunked the myth that the Halal certification of food products was a profiteering scheme that was driving prices up for all communities. Sabry said the annual revenue for the Division of Halal Certification of the All Ceylon Jammiyathul Ulema was Rs. 18 million with an operational cost of Rs. 17.5 million. The ACJU had informed the Government that they were ready for their operation to be inspected and audited any time, he added.

The Council said they had met with the Defence Secretary and members of the Police Department and Intelligence Unit and they had all provided assurances that no groups would be permitted to take the law into their own hands against another religious community. They have full confidence in the Government being able to rein in these forces threatening disharmony, they said. (Colombo Gazette)

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