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COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s nationalist Buddhist monks and their supporters launched a campaign yesterday to boycott Islamic halal-slaughtered meat amid mounting religious tensions in the ethnically divided nation.
Thousands of men and women led by hundreds of monks of the Bodu Bala Sena, or Buddhist Force, staged a rally outside Colombo to announce the boycott, demanding that shops clear their stocks of halal food by April.
“More than 90 percent of the population are Buddhists, Hindus and Christian and therefore there is no justification to force them to eat halal products,” Buddhist monk Kirama Wimala Jothi said in a statement. He urged Sri Lanka’s non-Muslim majority to boycott any product with the halal label. The issue has raised new tensions in a country emerging from nearly four decades of ethnic strife which has claimed at least 100,000 lives, according to UN estimates. The rally came less than three weeks after President Mahinda Rajapakse urged monks not to incite religious hatred and violence amid reports of a wave of attacks targeting Muslims.
The Buddhist Force has disassociated itself with violence saying that there were “duplicate groups” pretending to be them and stirring up trouble. Less than 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 20 million are Muslims.
One dead, 14 missing as ship sinks in Philippines
MANILA: One person died and 14 others are missing after a Myanmar-flagged cargo ship sank in waters off the northern Philippines, a coast guard spokesman said yesterday.
The search is still going on for the 14 missing Myanmar nationals after their ship, the MV Arita Bauxite, went down before dawn Sunday near the coastal Philippine town of Bolinao, said Lieutenant Commander Armand Balilo. The ship, carrying 24 crew, sank after developing engine trouble, although what caused it to take on water is still unclear, said Balilo.AFP