Decision taken after consulting Muslim leaders – PM’s Secy.

Relocation of Mosque:

Muslim leaders take exception to govt. decisionBy Lal Gunesekera

 Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne had decided to relocate a Mosque at Dambulla after discussions with Muslim leaders and other stake holders, including Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana, the PM’s Media Secretary Sisira Wijesinghe said.

He told The Island yesterday that the District Secretary had recommended three locations to construct the Mosque and that the Buddha Sasana and Religions Affairs Ministry would meet the expenses.

He said that Premier Jayaratne was determined to settle the dispute and a report had even been submitted by the Director of Muslim Affairs M. Navavi.

The Islamic Solidarity Front (ISF) has called upon all Muslim politicians of the UPFA Government to resign en masse unless Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne’s recision to relocate the Mosque at Dambulla built over 70 years ago is rescinded.

Chairman of the ISF Reyaz Salley, addressing a press briefing on Sunday(22), at the Azad Salley Foundation, said that a vast number of Muslims, to show solidarity, were joining hands with other political parties against the government’s move.

He said that extremist groups were attempting to create religious disharmony among Muslims and Buddhists. He added that the Muslim community was organising mass protests against the Government’s decision to relocate the Mosque.

Riyaz Salley said that all were responsible for the sad situation and it was the manner in which the UPFA government was treating the Muslims after receiving the support of Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslim countries, which had been stunned at the decision taken by Prime Minister Jayaratne.

He said that the Ambassadors of Muslim countries based in Sri Lanka, including Malaysia, Pakistan, United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia etc. were scheduled to meet in Colombo to discuss the issue while Iran had already addressed a letter to the Prime Minister.

Azath Salley said that he had joined the government ranks from the UNP in protest against former Army Commander General Sarath Fonseka’s comment that the minorities were similar to tourists in Sri Lanka. He said where he was concerned religion took precedence over politics. He said that he was not afraid to be abducted in a white van and he had already taken the initiative to brief President Mahinda Rajapaksa on those developments.

Among the others who were present were Dr. Wickremabahu Karunaratne (Nawa Sama Samaja Party), Mano Ganeshan (Democratic Peoples Front), Y. L. S. Hameed (All Ceylon Muslim Congress) and Radakrishnan (former Cabinet Minister of the Up-Country Peoples Front).

The Sri Lanka Muslim Union (SLMU), too, is against the government’s decision to relocate the Mosque in Dambulla.

Governor of the Western Province Alavi Moulana said that he, too, was against the relocation of the Mosque and was never present at the discussions with Prime Minister Jayaratne.

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