Suspicion the main cause of ethnic, religious tension–Hakeem


Justice Minister Rauf Hakeem with German Ambassador Dr. Juergen Morhard

"Suspicion has been the root cause of the rise in irrational hatred and intolerance towards Muslims and Islam as a religion, provoking some religious bigots in the country to embark on hate campaigns and hostile activities," Justice Minister and Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem told German Ambassador Dr. Juergen Morhard, when they met at at the Ministry of Justice yesterday.

Hakeem, responding to a query by the visiting Ambassador stated that communities must look beyond baseless suspicions and Muslims should not be stereotyped through the lens of terrorists. This was the first official meeting of Ambassador Mohard with Minister Hakeem and he was keen to learn about the current developments pertaining to the religious tension in the country. Minister Hakeem noted that some irrational hostilities are unleashed only by a very few ill-informed groups, but the public at large suspect vested interest groups to be the driving force behind those actions.

Some of the root causes for the hostility towards Muslims among these groups range from the misconceptions of the requirement for halal certification, Muslim women’s hijab and purdah, which is a unique religious attire and most importantly economic rivalries. Muslims are also perennially type caste by labels such as traditionalists, extremists and fundamentalists.

Minister Hakeem also explained to him the background to the conflict that broke out between fishermen in Mannar. Ambassador Mohard noted that on his visit to the North and East, he saw a close ethnic integration building up between the Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala communities. He also inquired after the resettlement process, infrastructural and livelihood related facilities of the resettling communities.

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