Muslims oppose Wigneswaran’s call for North-East merger


by Zacki Jabbar

Northern Province Chief Minister C. V. Wigneswaran’s call for the Muslims to back his demand for a re-merger of the North and East has met with stiff resistance by the Muslims.

President of the Federation of Eastern Muslim Civil Organisations, Moulavi Z. M. Nadeer said yesterday that he did not think the Muslims should support a re-merger of the North and East de-merged on a Supreme Court order, since it would result in them becoming a ‘big’ minority.

"Currently, the percentage of Muslims and Tamils in the Eastern Province is about the same. I cannot think of any good reason to change the status quo," he noted, adding that the two communities had by and large lived amicably even prior to the Indo-Lanka Peace Accord of 1987, which temporarily merged the two provinces.

Moulavi Nadeer said that they had realised what it was like to be a minority in a merged North-East. "Once is enough," he added.

To make language the main reason for re-merger was ridiculous, he observed pointing out that Muslims had a distinct religious and cultural identity.

A leading Muslim politician who preferred not to be named said he acknowledged that the Tamils like the Muslims had grievances that needed to be addressed urgently, but the solution did not lie in the re-merger of the North and East.

Commenting on the over emphasis of language, he noted that the Muslims of Sri Lanka were a cosmopolitan society in which many of its members spoke English , Sinhala and Tamil. "There are also Muslims who cannot read and write Tamil, but know only English and Sinhala. So, I think the language card which has caused conflict and misery in this country, should not be over played.But at the same time it is essential that the government creates an environment where anyone of us, could live in any part of the country, as equal citizens and with equal rights."

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