The Government and the All Ceylon Jaamiyathul Ulama (ACJU), reiterated today, that obtaining of the halal certificate is voluntary and the entire process is based on International specifications.
Leader of the House and Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva, on behalf of the government, made a detailed response today to Opposition Leader Ranil Wickremesinghe who asked the government to take steps to ease religious tension. In his statement the previous day, Mr. Wickremesinghe said that the ACJU, the apex body of Muslim clerics, had no legal power to issue Halal certification on business ventures.
The minister said that anyone had the right either to reject or accept Halal certified food items, but nobody would be allowed to impose it on another.
Mr. de Silva replied that ACJU campaigned vigorously for Sri Lanka in Geneva last year, and the government remained ever grateful to them. Therefore, he said the government regretted Mr. Wickremesinghe’s critical remarks on ACJU.
“We regret such a statement against ACJU merely because they refused to act as the cat’s paw of the opposition,” he said.
Besides, the Leader of the House said that Halal certification is essential in international trade; it is followed by some European countries in addition to Muslim countries in the world.
“Internationally, Halal certification is issued by the World Halal Food Council based in Indonesia. It has accredited worldwide organizations to issue such certification. In Sri Lanka, ACJU has been accredited for it,” he said.
As a result, he said, there is no need for the government to give ACJU legal recognition for that purpose.
“It is purely an Islamic religious affair. One has the right to reject or accept Halal food. Yet, we will not allow anyone to impose it on another,” he said.
However, the Opposition Leader disputed this claim and charged that ACJU earned money fraudulently by issuing Halal certification.
“ACJU is involved in a fraud. They campaigned for Milinda Moragoda at the last Municipal Council Elections,” he said.
Meanwhile, the ACJU today reiterated that the Halal certificate was a voluntarily obtained certificate by businesses and refuted “unfounded allegations on the amounts charged for issuing of certificates”
Addressing a news briefing, ACJU Halal division secretary Moulavi Murshid Mulaffer said he regretted the continuous false propaganda generated by various elements regarding the ‘Halal certification’.
“I speak to you with a lot of sorrow. We don’t understand the reason or the motive behind these false allegations regarding the Halal system. This is a very transparent process and all our accounts have been duly audited and submitted to the government. All allegations to the effect that this is a multi-million rupee business are totally false” he said.
Moulavi Mulaffer went on to add that the Halal division is not a company or a business but an association which provides services.
“Like any other association we charge a fee for the services provided. Each product that is under the Halal certificate would cost less than ten cents and there are no instances of this being passed to a general consumer” he said.
Speaking further the cleric, explained that according to Islamic law, every “process” must be Halal, thus the reason for mineral water, cake and other products to fall under the scope of the certification.
“The Halal certificate for cake is given to certify that the cake is free of any additives that have been considered haram. The need for a Islamic certified banking rests on the need to have a banking system free of interest, gambling and other such encumbrances’ which are prohibited” he said,
In an emotional appeal, the cleric requested all those who need to verify facts to contact the Jamiyathul Ulema and they will furnish them will all facts and figures regarding the process.
“ We urge any party to come to us and talk to us,we are ready to dispel all these myths and falsities that are now brewing in the country. We want to live in peace with everyone and therefore it is a must that we all be tansparent. We are a transparent organization and we are open to furnish anyone with any details regarding this process” he said.
Speaking at the briefing Moulavi Fazli Farook, of the All Ceylon Jamiyathu Ulama, called for religious tolerance.
“This country has suffered enough due to the brutal war now we have to move forward. Every Muslim in this country was born a Sri Lankan, will live as a Sri Lankan and will die as a Sri Lankan” he said.