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Sunday, 7 April 2013

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Don't fall prey to sinister elements

Certain individuals and organisations seem to be acting in a manner which could harm the peace and harmony among all communities in Sri Lanka, especially after terrorism was eradicated four years ago.

These elements, either knowingly or unwittingly, are behaving in a manner which could create divisions among people of different ethnicities and religious beliefs. Some organisations are inciting racism and extremism that could provide 'ammunition' for certain Western countries to make war crimes allegations against Sri Lanka.

Of late, the behaviour of some organisations with vested interests is most unbecoming and runs contrary to the teachings of their religious leaders. These organisations have roused the sentiments of religious and ethnic groups and moreover, acted in a sinister manner by speaking to the hearts and minds of those who hold extreme religious affiliations.

People, no doubt, have every right to hold their ethnic and religious beliefs in high esteem. Anybody has the right to practise his or her religion without let or hindrance. But this does not necessarily mean that they could harm the sentiments of other ethnic groups or religious faiths. Does patriotism mean that one ethnic group could conduct itself in a manner which harms the national unity or religious sentiments of those belonging to other faiths?

Most importantly, we cannot let anybody rob the country's hard-earned peace, which had been achieved due to the supreme sacrifice of the brave sons of our soil. The valiant soldiers who sacrificed their life and limb yearned for a united Sri Lanka and devoted themselves to create peace and harmony among the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays and Burghers. Even our illustrious leaders who fought for Sri Lanka's independence from the British belonged to different races and religions. They were united and stood together when it came to achieving independence for the motherland.

Hence, none of us has the right to do anything which would jeopardise the honest goals of the Security Forces and those who gave leadership in the country's freedom struggle. This would be a downright insult to Sri Lanka's valiant soldiers who sacrificed their lives during the battle against terrorism and the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim leaders who fought tooth and nail to liberate Sri Lanka from the British in 1948.

Sri Lankans should be wary against the current wave of religious extremism, irrespective of whether it is against the Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims. We should not permit extremist organisations to capitalise on our steadfast religious faiths or ethnic affiliations. A true Buddhist, Christian, Muslim or Hindu should not get carried away by extremist ideologies and harm the sentiments of their fellow countrymen of different religious faiths. It is needless to state that such conduct runs counter to the teachings of their religious leaders.

The Criminal Investigations Department (CID) has launched a full-scale investigation to arrest those backed by shady NGOs, who are sending inflammatory SMS messages to incite communalism and cause rifts between communities by supporting those elements who are bent on destabilising the country.

According to the CID, the campaign has been in full swing around the country with the support of certain NGOs to incite communal hatred, spread by extremist elements. Certain people, funded by a few NGOs, had sent numerous text messages to mobile phones and the CID had unravelled the mystery after analysing the data received from mobile service operators.

The telephone numbers of those involved in this sinister campaign have been already identified and the police would round up the culprits sooner than later. It has now come to light that these people are funded by certain NGOs to create rifts among people.

The Government has taken swift action against the tide of ethnic and religious hatred spread by various groups. The Government will always safeguard religious and ethnic harmony.

It is deplorable that some groups, of late, have been making wild allegations and comments which are detrimental to the prevailing unity among communal groups. This could provoke ethnic disputes and clashes and steps are now being taken to nip it in the bud.

Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara has proposed to convene a large gathering of intellectuals, artistes and literary scholars to enlist their cooperation to counter the racial disharmony propaganda. He said that a general assembly would be organised with the participation of all concerned to take this message to the people.

Any organisation or individual has the inalienable right and freedom to express their views. The Government will by no means proscribe any organisation as it is a democratic right. This doesn't mean that they could descend to the lowest and make sweeping statements that could harm national unity.

Vice Chancellor of the University of Sri Jayewardenepura, Ven. Prof. Bellanvila Wimalarathana Thera had pointed out that people should be treated equally, irrespective of whether they belong to the majority or minority community and not treated under the 'quota' system. The contentment and satisfaction of all ethnic groups should be ensured.

Ven. Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, who spoke on the latest developments in the country, said that the aim of the attempts to provoke communal disharmony could be the next election and added that the government should take prompt action to quell such attempts without permitting any group to gain political mileage. He also advocated the setting up of a body comprising representatives of all religions to act swiftly on this critical issue.

The majority Sinhala Buddhists does not accept extremism and are devout followers of the great teachings of the Buddha. They would never hurt the susceptibilities of their fellow countrymen belonging to different religious faiths. It is the bounden duty of all religious leaders to ensure national unity.

The law should be strictly enforced against those who engage in illegal activities under the guise of religion or ethnicity. Intellectuals should be provided a platform to voice their opinion on the matter and act as opinion leaders in the society.

It was indeed gratifying to witness the clergy representing different faiths stressing the urgent need of working towards fostering ethnic harmony and peace while creating a better environment for mutual understanding and amity among all ethnic groups. This was the consensus at a media conference on the prevailing situation in the country.

Sri Lankans for centuries have lived in perfect peace and harmony with other communities. Regrettably, certain extremists are making a subtle attempt to destroy this ethnic and religious harmony.

Sinhalese, Tamils, or Muslims should build a greater understanding with one another. They should unite all ethnic groups and foster fellowship among communities in the true spirit of a flourishing multi-ethnic society in Sri Lanka.

Everybody has a sacred duty to act with restraint to preserve this harmony without sowing the seeds of religious discord. People of all ethnic groups should foster fraternal ties and thereby set an example to others.

Ethnic peace and harmony is vital at a time the country is marching towards new economic horizons after terrorism was defeated. The dawn of peace ushered in a new era for people in all parts of the country, irrespective of race or religion. It opened a new chapter in Sri Lanka's history as all communities united under the Lion flag.

However, disgruntled elements, both here and abroad, abhor this unity and peaceful coexistence. Certain international organisations too could exploit these notorious local NGOs to create divisions among the ethnic groups. Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims should co-exist in peace and harmony, irrespective of their ethnic, religious, language or other differences. Communal harmony and unity are vital for the country's overall development and moreover to uphold its good image.

People should not fall prey to these extremist elements which are doing their damnedest to inflame religious and ethnic passions to use them as scapegoats.

The Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims have lived in perfect peace and harmony from time immemorial and this unity must be preserved at all costs.

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