Mosque issue: TNA slams government

TNA leader R. Sampanthan yesterday strongly condemned the government for its handling of the mosque dispute at Dambulla. The Trincomalee District MP issued the follwoing statment:

"The TNA is deeply concerned over the recent incidents in Dambulla. We unequivocally condemn all acts of mob violence, particularly those directed against places of religious worship in Dambulla on Friday, 20 April 2012. The timing of the attack reflects the intention of the attackers to disrupt Friday Jumma prayers and cause offence to Muslims.We are also particularly troubled by the assertion that selected localities of the country are ‘sacred areas’, and that places of minority religious worship will not be tolerated within those areas. This assertion has no apparent basis in law, and is utterly incompatible with the desired values of a multicultural society. While we recognize the importance of preserving places of archaeological, historical and cultural interest, we do not believe that those ends necessitate the demolition or relocation of places of minority religious worship.

The incident in Dambulla is the most recent of a pattern of attacks on places of minority religious worship. We have consistently drawn attention to the destruction of numerous Hindu places of worship and the proliferation of new Buddhist shrines in the North and East, which are part of an attempt to impose the dominant culture on those areas. Acts of this nature – particularly when they appear to be part of a State-sanctioned plan – cause great pain to minority peoples.

We therefore call on all citizens to condemn all acts of violence, threats of violence and acts of religious intolerance directed against minority peoples. We must not allow incidents of this nature to weaken our commitment to the goal of a tolerant and secular Sri Lanka where all Peoples are treated with dignity and, respect.

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