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‘48 extremist Muslim groups active in Sri Lanka’

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

Globally 72 extremist Muslim groups operated against traditional Islam believers, and of them 48 were active in Sri Lanka, a Sufi moulavi who wished to remain anonymous told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks on Wednesday.

The moulavi said that he had been under serious and continuous threats because he had been speaking out against fanatical Wahabism. The witness said that he had received higher education on Sufi Islam in India and Egypt.

He said that while Sufis were traditionally dominant in Sri Lanka, Wahabist groups, such as Tablighi Jamaat, Thowheed jamaat, Jamaat-e-Islami, Shabab, and Salafi had spread rapidly as they were well funded.

Those groups had first entered Sri Lanka after 1945, when members of extremist groups arrived from India and Pakistan. The witness said that although those groups operated under different names, they believed in Wahhabis ideology.

Wahabist groups misinterpreted the Quran, Hadith and Qiyas, the Moulavi said, adding that those who followed Wahabism had tried to silence him, using force on many occasions. “In 1991, I was assaulted by members of Tablighi Jamaat during a pilgrimage to Mecca for speaking out against Wahabists. I was stabbed, punched and kicked while I was on my way to have dinner. At that time late Alavi Moulana, trade unionist and politician, was also in Mecca. I went to a police station with him to lodge a complaint. But the Saudi police refused to accept the complaint, saying that they had received reports that I was working against them in Sri Lanka. Later, I came to know that the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) had complained against me.”

The moulavi said that on another occasion he had been abducted at Kohuwala in 2007 and kept in an undisclosed location for three days before being dumped somewhere near his house.

“I spoke to a Muslim intelligence officer and he observed me for several weeks and told me that my abductors were members of the Tabligh Jamaat. He asked me not to criticize the Wahabists,” he said.

When a commissioner asked whether a complaint had been lodged with the Police about the abduction, the witness said that they didn’t complain as extremist Muslims had more power in the country at that time. The witness said that he had been shot at when he was preaching at a Mosque in Akkaraipattu.

Members of the PCoI also questioned him on the Jamiah Naleemiah Islamic Institute, Beruwala. The witness said that Wahhabism was taught in the institution and Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the controversial Egyptian theologian, who justified suicide bombers, had visited the school.

“I also learned that NTJ leader Zahran Hashim had visited the school on three occasions,” the witness said.



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Economic crisis: 100,000 families already starving

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Govt. to provide monthly assistance package – official

By Ifham Nizam 

Plans are underway to assist an average needy family of  four with a monthly package of Rs. 15,000, a senior adviser to President Ranil Wickremesinghe said yesterday, adding that the move was expected to help ameliorate the plight of nearly 65,000 families.

Food Security Committee Chairman Dr. Suren Batagoda told The Island yesterday that at present some 100,000 families across the country were starving.

He said financial assistance would be provided to those families for three months. Within three months, the government would design a package in the form of food stamps, etc.

Dr. Batagoda said the World Food Programme, UNICEF, the World Bank, and state agencies would also team up to strengthen food security, focusing especially on needy pregnant mothers and pre-school children.

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GR govt. ignored Chinese lenders’ request for debt restructuring

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

The Gotabaya Rajapaksa government had ignored suggestions by Chinese lending institutions that Sri Lanka to restructure the debt in 2021, Prof. Samitha Hettige said yesterday.

“The Rajapaksa government started talking of debt restructuring earlier this year. The Opposition had been asking for this before,” he said.  By 2021, before the Gotabaya Rajapaksa administration decided on debt restructuring, the Chinese institutions that had given Sri Lanka loans suggested that a restructuring process should start since Sri Lanka would have trouble repaying the loans, the Strategic Studies scholar said.

However, the request had gone unheeded, and if the government had started discussions then, Sri Lanka would not have been in crisis, Prof. Hettige said.

The Sri Lankan foreign policy, in the last few years, had also been misguided, Prof. Hettige said. A number of Indian and Chinese companies faced unnecessary issues by the behaviour of the government, he said.

Prof. Hettige said that the government must focus on establishing free trade ports and reducing negative lists for investments.

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SJB dissociates itself from SF’s call for protest

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By Chaminda Silva

MP Sarath Fonseka’s call for people to join anti-government protests was not a decision taken by the Samagi Jana Balawegaya (SJB), party MP J.C Alawathuwala said.

The SJB believed that they had to help President Ranil Wickremesinghe stabilise the country, economically and politically, he said.

MP Alawathuwala said the President must be given some time to solve the problems faced by the people and that the SJB was holding discussions with the government to guide it on a people-friendly path.

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