COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s Muslim legislators yesterday asked President Mahinda Rajapakse to protect their minority community from “Buddhist extremist elements” blamed for a recent spate of hate attacks. The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, an umbrella organisation of Muslim groups, said 16 out of the 18 Muslim parliamentarians had asked the president to intervene and halt the attacks.
“Muslim parliamentarians wish to bring to your excellency’s kind attention the continued hate campaign, intimidation and threats to Muslims, carried out by some Buddhist extremist elements,” the MPs said in a joint letter.
It was sent after police on Monday established a new unit to investigate hate crimes after attacks by Buddhist monks on churches and mosques raised concerns about religious freedom.
Nationalist Buddhist groups have accused religious minorities of having undue political and economic influence on the island.
Videos posted on YouTube have shown mobs led by Buddhist monks throwing stones and smashing a Christian prayer centre in southern Sri Lanka in January this year and attacking mosques while police looked on.
The country is emerging from nearly four decades of ethnic war which according to UN estimates claimed at least 100,000 between 1972 and 2009.