CAIRO – Denouncing attacks against Christian churches, Sri Lanka Muslims have expressed concerns over escalating Buddhist threats in Sri Lanka, urging the President to protect religious minorities from monks attacks.
“We kindly urge your Excellency to order the law enforcement agencies to rein-in these mobs that infringe on the peoples fundamental right to worship,” Sri Lanka Muslim Council said in a statement cited by Colombo Gazette on Friday, January 17.
“Should there be any breach of law by any individual or groups, we kindly urge that due process is followed and necessary legal action is taken without letting individuals or religious groups to take the law in to their own hands,” the Council added.
Repeated attacks on Christian churches have been reported across Sri Lanka in December and January.
On Christmas Eve, three congregations in the south of the country were attacked.
The pastor of one church in Angunukolapalassa, Hambanthota District, was surrounded by over 300 villagers and Buddhist monks who demanded that he stop all worship services planned for Christmas Day.
The same night, unidentified assailants threw firecrackers into a church compound and the adjoining pastor’s residence in Hikkaduwa, Galle District. Another church was targeted in the same village by attackers who hurled stones at the building, shattering several windows.
Several days later, on December 27th, approximately 200 protesters demanded that construction halt on a church building in Buttala, Monaragala District.
On January 12th, two churches were attacked in Hikkaduwa, the same location of Christmas eve attacks.
“The unruly mob led by some Buddhist monks blatantly infringed on the people’s right to worship. This is not the first incident of this nature and the police who were present could not prevent these elements from causing havoc at a place of religious worship,” the Muslim Council’s statement said.
“Certain Buddhist monks, publicly claiming to be the un-official police continue to intimidate the minorities. This has become a growing trend and has gone unchecked,” the Muslim Council added.
The council added that the Muslim community too has faced many situations of violence, harassment and intimidation by extremist Buddhist groups and up to now, the police have not made any arrests in any of these incidents.
“All Sri Lankans, irrespective of their religious beliefs have high hopes of living a peaceful life in our blessed country after over three decades of conflict,” the statement read.
“We are confident that under your Excellency’s able leadership, this dream could certainly be a reality. We thank you, your Excellency for your immediate attention and look forward to a complete halt to the threat to the minorities by these extremist groups,” the Muslim Council added.
Sri Lankan Muslims, known as “Moors”, are the third largest ethnic group in the country after the Sinhalese, who make up 70 percent of the populace, and Tamils, who account for 12.5 percent.
Analysts say successive governments have been under pressure to give in to the Buddhist majority whenever there is an ethnic clash.
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