We informed Office of Prez, PM and IGP about extremist groups: Sahlan Maulavi

Maulavi K. R. M. Sahlan who represents the Sufi Sect yesterday said the Sufi Islamic leaders in Kattankudi had informed the President’s office, Prime Minister’s Office and Attorney General’s Department and the IGP about the extremism that was visible in the area.

Maulavi Sahlan who testified before the Parliamentary Select Committee looking into Easter Sunday attacks said he had informed these institutions in 2017. He said the Attorney General’s Department had informed him that the letter sent by the Sufi organization have been referred to relevant persons and institutions. Also, he said a letter of acknowledgement from the Prime Minister’s office saying the matter was brought under the attention of the Prime Minister.

Field Marshal Sarath Fonseka who responded to this said action should have been taken from the first instance when information on extremism was received.

The Maulavi said extremism was visible in Kattankudi for decades. He said the Extremists Muslims originally came out against the moderates Muslims in Kattankudi in 1979. He said they issued Fatwas (religious ruling) against the Sufis in 1979. “They said Sufi Muslims should be killed as they cannot be identified as a group who follow Islam. They have also been criticizing other religions since 2007, while a Sufi Maulavi had been killed in 1998 according to the information given by Zahran. In addition graves of Sufi Msulim leaders have been destroyed by the National Thawheed Jama'ath.

In response to a question raised by Field Marshal Fonseka as to whether the Extremist groups or even Zahran talked against killing of people following other religions Mavlavi Sahlan said CDs and leaflets were distributed to churches asking them not to commemorate Christmas in 2016.

He said Zahran was against Sufi Muslims and was campaigning against them for many years. He then handed over some CDs and other documents on the speeches given by Zahran.

Responding to another question raised by Field Marshal Fonseka as to what Zahran was doing during the presidential election, Maulavi Sahlan said Zahran was supporting President Maithripala Sirisena while he supported Former President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Asked about the General Elections he said Zahran got UPFA, UNP and SLMC to sign an agreement with him. As per the agreements he said the main condition was that no party should support moderate Muslims such as Sufis. “The agreements which Zahran signed with the political parties were dangerous as he included a condition saying the political parties should support extremists such as National Thawheed Jama'ath.

Several members then questioned him whether there is a possibility that extremists groups are freely moving in the area, he said there could be such groups or persons in Kattankudi.

Sahlan became emotional during the latter stages of the proceedings. Chairman of the Committee Deputy Speaker Ananda Kumarasiri said the documents presented by Sufi Maulavi yesterday will be used for the report. (Yohan Perera and Ajith Siriwardana)

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