Govt. rejects ACJU call for taking over issuance of Halal certificates

by Zacki Jabbar

The government yesterday rejected the All Ceylon Jayamaiyathulla (ACJU) request for it to take over the issuance of Halal certificates, since extremist elements were trying to make it an excuse to create communal disturbances in the country.

"We cannot get involved in religious matters and it is not prudent for state actors to be issuing Halal certificates," Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella told the weekly Cabinet press briefing in Colombo.

He said a Parliamentary Select Committee had been appointed to address the concerns and protests by the Bodu Bala Sena over the labelling of consumer products as ‘Halal’ and ‘Non Halal’. Ministers Champika Ranawaka, Rauff Hakeem and Wimal Weerawansa had together discussed the matter and Ranawaka had expressed the view that there was no need to be marketing products with religious labels on it, Rambukwella noted.

Describing the crisis as ‘minor’ Minister Rambukwella said it could be resolved amicably.

Meanwhile, the ACJU said that even if the government did not want to get involved in the issuance of Halal certificates, it had a  duty to intervene and prevent public protests which were very disconcerting to the Muslims.

The President of ACJU, M. I. M. Rizvi Mufti, said that they were only performing a duty by their community, while obliging requests made by Non-Muslim business establishments. But, a service rendered to society had been distorted and used to create communal disharmony threatening the long standing friendly relations between the Sinhalese and Muslims.

In predominantly Theravada Buddhist countries, such as Thailand and Singapore, state institutions had been entrusted with the task of handling the issue of Halal certificates and practice could also be adopted in Sri Lanka, he noted.

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