“If Terrorism that has Emerged from Within the Muslim Community is to be Crushed, Muslim Individuals will Have to be Arrested, Muslim Homes and Mosques will Have to be Searched” – Mahinda Rajapaksa

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( This is the text of a media release issued by the office of the Leader of the Opposition. It is a Translation of a speech made by the Leader of the Opposition Hon. Mahinda Rajapaksa on Tuesday, 11 June 2019 at his official residence on Wijerama Mawatha Colombo.)

Venerable members of the Maha Sangha, clergymen of all other faiths, citizens of Sri Lanka and friends,

The terrorist attack that took place on the 21st of April is a watershed in the history of this country. Today, a fear of terrorists who murder those who do not subscribe to their religious ideology, has spread throughout the country. Economic activities have been adversely affected. As was the case during the war, parents are once again guarding schools. Today, religious observances have to be performed under tight security – a situation that we did not experience even during the war. We are unable to celebrate Vesak and Poson as we used to. Devotees are searched before being allowed to enter places of worship.

There is now mutual mistrust between the Muslim community and the followers of other religions. This mistrust is now developing in a dangerous direction due to the allegation that a Muslim medical specialist attached to the Kurunegala hospital had due to extremist religious ideology, rendered women belonging to other religions infertile. At a time like this, the leaders of the country and of the Muslim community, should act in a very responsible and circumspect manner.

Two or three weeks after the bomb attacks, we saw organised groups of people attacking Muslim owned business establishements in certain areas obviously with a view to igniting a countrywide riot. But those incidents ceased almost as quickly as they started due to resolute opposition from the general public. There was strong opposition to these acts of violence in the social media as well. We saw similar incidents taking place around 2014 in the run up to the 2015 presidential election. On the 9th January 2019, we found that both the perpetrators and victims of those incidents, were with the common candidate. This time too they seem to have been aiming at a similar stunt, but their attempt failed.

All of us should understand that everything that we see happenning now, is directly connected to the presidentail election that is due to be held in a few months. The present government is seeking to retain for the next presidential election as well, the Muslim vote base that they organised around themselves using various stratagems before 2015. Opposition MPs tabled a no-confidence motion against one Cabinet minister on the grounds that he had connections with the terrorists responsible for the Easter Sunday attacks. No confidence motions are an integral part of the parliamentary tradition and a right exercised by the parliamentary opposition.

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