Unified Sri Lankan Muslim Community Of Canada Statement on the Anti-Muslim Riots and Attacks on Sacred Places in Sri LankaWritten by Unified Sri Lankan Muslim Community Of Canada
Last month, Muslims in Canada were horrified by the attacks on churches in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday. They organized, spoke at and attended vigils and peace circles in honour of the victims across Canada.
Unfortunately now, the mourning and outrage continues as Muslim communities in Sri Lanka are facing retaliatory violence.
The Unified Sri Lankan Muslim Community Of Canada (USLMC Canada) is organizing a peaceful demonstration on Sunday, May 19 at 3:00pm at Dundas Square in Toronto, Ontario.
They have also issued the following statement about the violence:
The Sri Lankan-Canadian Muslim community in Canada – together with its religious and civic leadership – is distressed to hear about the recent anti-Muslim riots in Sri Lanka which has victimized the Muslims in their holy month Ramadan. The extremist and racist mobs have burned down over 30 villages, looted and destroyed Muslim-owned large businesses, and smashed and desecrated several mosques and religious educational institutions, burning the Qur’ans. The violence has claimed the lives of 2 innocent Muslims who were fasting during this month.
The affected people include immediate and extended families, friends, neighbors, and colleagues of the Sri Lankan-Canadian Muslims and as such have caused an immense grief as well as fear over peoples’ safety living as minorities in Sri Lanka.
We, the Sri Lankan-Canadian Muslims, strongly condemn the vicious attacks on innocent community members and their properties and appalled by the lack of effective measures taken by the government to stop the violence carried out by organized hate groups while the curfew was still on.
The spike in recent attacks are a direct result of online hate campaigns and fear-mongering by the extremist elements in the country. The contributions of patriotic Sri Lankan Muslims for the peace-building efforts of the nation is well known; hence it saddens for us to see the concerted effort of extremists to nullify these valuable
contributions and alienate an entire community.
Violence and riots do not bring any benefits to the country. It rather pulls a nation into a dark era costing billions of dollars to the economy, tarnishing Sri Lanka’s image in the International arena, and damaging years of community building and harmonious co-existence by Sri Lankans. The economic loss for the Muslim community is huge which in turn cripples the economic progress of the country.
Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country where all citizens are equal before the law. Hence, while we applaud the measures taken by the law-enforcement officials to contain the riots from spreading to other parts of the country, we urge the Sri Lankan government to take all necessary measures to:
1.Provide proper security to families, their properties, and the mosques in the affected areas and ensure the communal riots do not rise its ugly head again.
2.Take robust action against perpetrators regardless of their background or status and bring to justice those who incited violence and those carried out these attacks.
3.Assess the damages to homes, businesses, public places of worship and provide immediate relief to the victims and community members.
4.Give public assurance to the loved ones of Sri Lankan Muslims who live all around the world and to the international community that the fundamental human rights of all religious and ethnic groups in Sri Lanka will be honored and protected.
5. Implement stronger policies to arrest those who promote hate online and engage in fear-mongering fueling anti-Muslim and anti-minority rhetorics; and appoint a special investigation unit to entertain complaints of hate crimes.
The Sri Lankan-Canadian Muslim community also calls upon the Canadian government – which prides itself as a strong advocate for diversity, equity, social justice, and minority rights – to condemn these hate crimes and play a significant role in the preservation of human rights of the Sri Lankan Muslim minority.