Minister Kabir Hashim appeals that the whole Muslim Community should not be judged by the acts of a small group, just as the whole Sinhala community would not be judged based on the violent incidents which occurred in Kurunegala and Gampaha.
The Minister of Highways & Road Development and Petroleum Resources Development mentioned this at a press conference held earlier today (16).
Representing the Muslim civil society of Sri Lanka, the former minister Ferial Ashraff, former minister and attorney-at-law Imthiaz Bakeer Markar, and President’s Counsel Ali Sabry joined Minister Hashim at the press conference.
The Minister said, “We felt that it was our duty to come and address the nation at this very important time.
Our position was that the incidents that took place a few days ago, in Kurunegala District and in the Gampaha District, were heartbreaking to see and hear.
But for us, it was more painful when on April 21 there were these bomb explosions that took place across the island. That was really painful for us as a community.
We realized that we were more the victims of it and that the Muslim community at large, the mainstream Muslim community, had not been understood very clearly. The four of us are here to represent that mainstream Muslim community.
The Muslims have been an integral part of this country from the Sinhala kings onwards. The history speaks for itself. We have defended the nation various times when the nation was under threat.
The very small minority of persons who are responsible for the treacherous act on Easter Sunday, in our opinion, are not real followers of our faith. If they had followed our faith, they couldn’t have carried out those acts. Therefore they are not people who have been part of our faith.
At this moment, as Muslims, we have come out and spoken against this. Even before these attacks, since 2014, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) had been warning the authorities. They’ve been speaking to the intelligence officers about these extremist groups. But we hadn’t taken enough action on it.
When this thing happened there had been continuous self-criticism and introspection of the Muslim community itself. Following the attacks, the ACJU has given much support to the forces in terms of finding out the people behind this. Muslims in various parts of the country had turned over and shown the forces and intelligence groups where the perpetrators had been hiding. They’ve been cooperating fully. Parents have gone and handed over their children if they had a doubt about the activities of their children. They’ve made that commitment.
This is why we are appealing all not to put the mainstream Muslims into that minority. Because when the incident in Kurunegala and Gampaha occurred, it didn’t represent the majority of the Sinhala majority. And we wouldn’t judge the majority Sinhala community by the actions of a small group. In the same way, the small minority of these so-called Muslims should not convince you to judge all of us in the same way.
Therefore we are looking at in introspection at the community at how if we have grown apart from the majority community, from being true Sri Lankans and what we should do to change. And we have already started taking that course of action.
Religious leaders and Muslim intellectuals are looking at the change in our Madrasa act and our religious acts, and whether we have also brought in foreign ideologies which are not a part of our religion. And what we should do away with. And what has held us back in integration with the mainstream of this country. We are going to look at making the necessary changes and be progressive.
There are various forces that would like to divide us and divide our country. We should not walk into those traps. We should stay united and work together. And we are making that commitment as Sri Lankans.”