External hand behind attacks

Sri Lanka’s main Muslim party today alleged role of an “external hand” behind a series of attacks on Islamic religious centres in the country in recent weeks.

“With all our political experience we can seen an external hand to disturb the peace in the country,” Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Rauff Hakeem said.

Muslim civil society groups had claimed that there have been over 30 incidents of racial hatred attacks against the community in the last seven weeks. They have also accused the police of inaction to prevent the attacks.

“Those responsible for maintaining the law and order are being directed by an invisible hand,” Hakeem, who is also a government minister, told a gathering in the central town of Kandy.

Hakeem said the issue needs to be taken up with the highest levels of the government.

“We will try to resolve the issue with talks internally,” he said.

Several centres of Muslim minority have been facing arson attacks since mid April. The attacks were largely blamed on the Buddhist extremist group, Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).

BBS leader and monk Galagodaatte Gnanasara was seen publicly slamming Islam last month.

Gnanasara is wanted for contempt of court and has been ordered by a court not to leave the country.

Sri Lanka’s population practises a variety of religions.

As of the 2011 census, 70 per cent of Sri Lankans were Theravada Buddhists, 12 per cent Hindus, 9.7 per cent Muslims and 7.4 per cent Christians.

Galagodatte Gnanasara is wanted by the police in around 19 complaints of harassment filed by the Muslims. Police has launched a search for him, but have not arrested him.

Envoys of many countries, including Australia and Canada, have visited a prominent mosque here to express their solidarity with minority Muslims. (DNA)

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