Says he did not mean any local political group but international political forces using Wahabism as a tool
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith at the press conference where he said international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks.
Pic by Pradeep Dilrukshana
- Cardinal Ranjith said some people had misunderstood what he said
- We are not trying to put the blame of Muslim extremism and expansionism on the entire Muslim population
By Yohan Perera
Archbishop of Colombo Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith said yesterday it is clear that there is evidence of ‘extremism and expansionism ‘ in Sri Lanka, and urged the government to be more active against the trend. Cardinal Ranjith told a news conference that some international political forces backed by powerful countries were using Wahabi ideology as a tool to sow religious discord among people and create armed struggles.
.He said such forces benefit them in terms of increase in the sale of arms manufactured by them.
Clarifying remarks made by him the previous day regarding those behind the Easter Sunday carnage, Cardinal Ranjith said some people had misunderstood what he said.
“I did not say there is no Muslim extremism or expansionism in the country. We are not trying to put the blame of Muslim extremism and expansionism on the entire Muslim population. It may be done by a small group. We are not trying to paste labels on them. But among them, some due to certain international influences have been misled and got involved in extremism. They have got removed to some extent from the pure Islamic thinking. There should be a change for that from within the Muslim community. I am appealing from the Muslim community not to allow space for these extremist ideas. Also I did not mean any local political force or party. In this regard, I only meant international forces who use extremism as a tool to create conflicts. They create these conflicts to sell the weapons they manufacture,” he said.
“Only a small group of Muslims are involved in extremism. Therefore I would like to appeal to Muslims in Sri Lanka who have co-existed in this country with other ethnic and religious groups for more than 1000 years to maintain that rapport and to follow the true essence of Islamism which they upheld for centuries,” he said.
Commenting on his previous remarks on former President Maithripala Sirisena, he said the ex-president had rubbished the call for the arrest of Zahran Hashim who led the Easter attack saying it would be an invitation to unnecessary trouble.
“Besides, the report of the Presidential Commission has mentioned much about the former President. It has also mentioned that former Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had adopted a soft approach regarding dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka,” he said.
Also, he said there is concern whether the probe into the series of bombings was not led in the proper direction as part of the deal to get the support of Muslim MPs to enact the 20th Amendment.
“Leader of one Muslim political party voting against the 20th Amendment and other MPs voting for it and releasing of the brother of Rishad Bathiudeen are also questionable. These events could be part of a deal,” he said.
Fr. Cyril Gamini Fernando said only a few of those who followed Zahran Hashim carried out suicide bombings and the authorities concerned should probe what happened to the other accomplices. To our knowledge and according to the report of the Presidential Commission only a few have died in suicide attacks. Around 300 persons have followed Zahran’s lectures and had pledged to carry out suicide attacks and to take up arms. One wonders as to what happened to the rest. Also there could be swords and other sharp tools which have not been recovered. It is important to find out answers to these questions,” he said.
- Leader of one Muslim political party voting against the 20th Amendment and other MPs voting for it and releasing of the brother of Rishad Bathiudeen are also questionable