The Sri Lanka Muslim Council (SLMC) has expressed grave concern over reports that have quoted Indian Intelligence officials who have warned of an alleged presence of Muslim terror groups in the country, pointing out that such claims have further fuelled anti-Muslim campaigns in Sri Lanka.
SLMC President, N. M. Ameen in a letter to the Indian High Commissioner in Sri Lanka, Y.K. Sinha has sought an immediate clarification of the Indian government’s position on the reports that refer to Islamic terror groups operating in the country, asserting that such claims have heavily contributed to the growing Islamophobia in the island nation.
“It is important that it is contained,” Ameen has written yesterday, adding such claims have heavily affected the progress of reconciliation, peace and stability in Sri Lanka.
In the letter he has referred to mainstream and social media reports that he claims has bashed the Muslim Community in Sri Lanka by making it appear as if local Muslims are party to terrorist groups that target India.
Ameen has referred to the contradiction between Indian media reports and the statement made by Sri Lanka’s Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa in a recent interview with Daily Mirror where he has rejected the existence of Islamic terror groups on Lankan soil and the confusion it has generated, that has led to the circulation of unsubstantiated rumours.
He has gone on to state that unfortunate incidents like the arrest of an individual of Islamic faith in Chennai on charges of espionage does not prove the existence of Muslim terror groups in Sri Lanka, but has expressed worry over the mere facts being exploited by Buddhist extremists and certain political factions to taint the local Muslim community.
“Such incidents contribute to the hate campaigns against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka and has fuelled violence towards Muslims in the country as seen recently by the anti-Muslim violence that erupted in Southern Sri Lanka,” Ameen has further noted.
We publish below the letter in full;
June 5th 2014
His Excellency Y K Sinha,
High Commissioner for India in Sri Lanka, Galle Road,
RE: DAILY MIRROR REPORT ON MUSLIM EXTREMISTS TARGETING INDIA
The Muslim Community in Sri Lanka continues to be bashed by mainstream and social media as being party to terrorist groups that target India. This is a major cause for concern among the Muslim community as the media reports attribute the source to various unnamed Indian government intelligence officials. The Daily Mirror newspaper of July 4th 2014 too carries an article “ India Fears Growth of Fundamentalism in Sri Lanka After Riots”
The Secretary, Ministry of Defense, Sri Lanka, in his interview with the Daily Mirror newspaper of 1st July 2014 too mentioned that the Indian intelligence agencies had raised their concerns to him about the possibility of Islamic Terrorism being based in Sri Lanka to act against India; I quote, “The Indian intelligence agencies have told me that there is a possibility of Islamic Terrorism being based in Sri Lanka to act against India. However, we investigated these concerns and found that there is no merit in these concerns or claims. Our intelligence agencies are very active on these issues”.
Unfortunate incidents like the arrest of an individual of Islamic faith in Chennai on charges of espionage has been made use of by Buddhist extremists and some political elements with vested interests to cast a shadow on the Muslim Community in Sri Lanka, although this arrest does not prove the existence of Muslim terror groups in the country. This person was a mere mercenary purportedly working for foreign forces. Such expose to justify their hate campaign against the Muslim community Such incidents contribute to the hate campaign against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka, which has fuelled violence towards Muslims in the country, as seen recently in the South of Sri Lanka, claiming the lives of three, displacing thousands and causing damage to property and livelihood amounting to hundreds of millions of rupees.
The alleged existence of Muslim terror groups in Sri Lanka is contributing to the hate campaign against Muslims in the country, and Islamophobia is reaching crisis proportions. It is important that this is contained.
We kindly urge Your Excellency to immediately clarify your Government’s position on this to avert confusion and conflict in Sri Lanka which does not contribute to reconciliation, peace and stability in the country.
We thank you, your Excellency for the kind clarification and assure you of our fullest co- operation at all times
N M Ameen
Muslim Council of Sri Lanka.