As these terrorists happened to be Muslim terrorists suspicion is on against Muslims. I would like to appeal to all Sri Lankans for the atrocities committed by a few individuals, who are only namesake Muslims
With regard to the Muslim political leadership of this country, the fact remains that they should have been more aware than the rest and should have looked at the impending threat in the perspective of 2.2 million Muslims of the country
Sri Lanka does not need a Sharia University
If the face cover prevents identification of individuals, it will definitely be a wise move to refrain from covering the face using a veil
The discussed the current situation of the country in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday carnage, with former Minister of Local Government and Provincial Councils and young Muslim leader Faiszer Musthapha, PC.
Q:Muslim fundamentalist terrorism has committed one of the biggest crimes against Sri Lanka with a series of suicide bomb blasts on Easter Sunday. How do you see this carnage as a Muslim leader and a former Minister?
Terrorism has no race or religion but it is unfortunate that these misguided individuals were Muslims. The entire peace loving god fearing Muslim society condemns this baarbaric act unconditionally.
Historically, Muslims have been supporting this nation in saving the country from foreign invaders, developing trade, import and export and establishing links with other nations etc. from the time of the Sinhala kings. The Muslim community also supported to crush the separatist terrorism wholeheartedly and has never been engaged in acts of terrorism against this country.
The Easter Sunday multiple attacks on catholic churches and up-market hotels are no doubt a huge threat to the national security. It is about time to rise against this new threat that came after 10 years of peace and harmony among all communities in the Sri Lankan nation. We have had peace from 2009 and the nation has to get together to crush terrorism.
Q:The Easter Sunday terror campaign has divided the nation right from the middle with inevitable suspicion on Muslims by other communities. How do you propose to unite the Sri Lankan nation under one umbrella?
As these terrorists happened to be Muslim terrorists, suspicion is on against Muslims. I would like to appeal to all Sri Lankans, for the atrocities committed by a few individuals who are only namesake Muslims. The Muslim ulamas have issued a statement saying that these individuals masquerading as Muslims should not be believed. Therefore, it is important and pragmatic to believe that those who committed the Easter Sunday carnage were non Muslims.
Q:The National Thawheed Jamaath (NTJ) and other extremist groups have been active since 2011 and not only the intelligence arm of the Police and armed forces were aware on the impending threat. In addition Ministers like Wijedasa Rajapaksa and Buddhist clergies like Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera had sounded alarm on the emergence of Muslim fundamentalism. But not a single Muslim leader has alerted the government on this threat. Why and how?
The Muslim ulamas have continuously engaged with different security establishments and informed them of the impending threat of a few Muslim individuals. It is a fact that the Police had also been briefed continuously on such threats. Statements have been recorded but unfortunately those responsible to act on these intelligence data have failed to do so and I think they have to be questioned on these lapses.
The Easter Sunday multiple attacks on catholic churches and up-market hotels are no doubt a huge threat to the national security
With regard to the Muslim political leadership of this country, the fact remains that they should have been more aware than the rest and should have looked at the impending threat in the perspective of 2.2 million Muslims of the country, as 99.9% of them are peace loving and against extremism. It is also questionable as to why those responsible have failed to act when our neighbour, India, through their intelligence arm RAW (Research and Analysis Wing), continued to alarm us, which clearly had stated that certain individuals were planning an attack on churches. Still there was no action and the ultimate result was one of biggest terrorist attacks on the soil of Sri Lanka that claimed nearly 360 innocent lives and wounded nearly 500.
Q:How do you see the detection of imported ‘Mannas’, Kris knives and other weaponry in Mosques?
If there were knives and other weaponry in any place of worship of Muslims, the trustees of the respective mosques must take the responsibility and the management should be dealt with under the law.
Q:Does Sri Lanka need a Sharia University?
Sri Lanka does not need a Sharia University. I think the UGC (University Grants Commission) may have granted permission to create a Sharia University and if so I believe this must be brought under the Ministry of Higher Education and study courses have to be monitored and supervised by the UGC.
Q:As far as you know, is it a Muslim tradition to wear face veils by Muslim women covering the entire body?
Traditionally, the majority of Muslim community only covers their hair. But however, there are certain Muslims who believe that in addition to hair cover the face should also be covered. Under normal circumstances, it is not my right to comment on whether Muslims should cover their face. Therefore, if the face cover prevents identification of individuals at this difficult time, it will definitely be a wise move to refrain from covering the face using a veil. It is timely that ulamas make a request to refrain from wearing face veils covering the face which will also contribute to prevent unnecessary debates. Besides, President Maithripala Sirisena has banned wearing face veils under the Public Security Ordinance that would make if difficult to identify a Muslim woman when necessary.
Q:The leaders of the government, opposition and law enforcement agencies have failed to prevent this carnage despite alarm bells sounded years back. How and why did such an unforgivable blunder happen?
Unfortunately, there have been lapses in taking action on intelligence reports. So, those who are responsible for these lapses and failed in their assigned duties to prevent the resultant carnage should take the responsibility. It is the duty of the authorities as well to identify those who failed to act in a timely manner and take necessary legal and disciplinary action against them.
Q:Allegations have been levelled against you by the joint opposition and certain government members for deliberately delaying the PC polls. Your comments?
This is purely looking for a scapegoat. The UNP, while I was the Minister of Local government and Provincial Councils made a statement to the effect that I was postponing PC polls because I was an SLFPer. I questioned as to why the UNP did not introduce necessary amendments to facilitate the conducting of PC polls. I have at no stage postponed polls. All that I did was to bring new amendments under which we do away with the much criticized PR system and introduce a mixed electoral system. Amendments were passed in Parliament with a two thirds majority but there were some grievances from the minority parties about the new electoral system. Heeding to their request we brought further amendments to the PC electoral system but all 224 members of Parliament rejected it ‘in toto’. Right now the introducing of technical amendments necessary to rectify the shortcomings in the delimitation report is in limbo and no one can say when and how the PC polls could be held.
Q:As a Muslim leader what are your views and suggestions to come out of this grave threat?
As Muslim leaders, we all should set an example and help to defeat terrorism. We should not allow Muslim terrorism to take root in our motherland and extend the hand of friendship, peace and understanding to all communities and we expect the same from all other communities. Only then can we live peacefully, with self respect and inter communal harmony as one nation, which is Sri Lankan.
Q:What is your message to the Muslim community in particular and to the Sri Lankan nation at large?
I would like to say that his eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith, the Archbishop of Colombo has given leadership to the current Sri Lankan situation in the form of a living saint. His compassion and love shown towards Muslims generating love and understanding makes all Sri Lankans indebted to him for his great leadership, specially by the Muslim community who feared a backlash, consequent to the barbaric terrorist attack. I would equate the leadership given by his eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith to that of New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern’s, when a white extremist shot Muslim devotees at a Friday prayer at a mosque in Christchurch on March 15, killing 51 and injuring hundreds. Both leaders have shown great human qualities and given leadership to a heart broken nation to come out of the mess. I make an appeal to all Sri Lankans to trust this noble personality in this hour of difficulty and follow his preaching and advice.