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‘48 extremist Muslim groups active in Sri Lanka’



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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Cardinal: Was there any link between passage of 20A and Easter Sunday probe outcome?



… stands by his claim of foreign involvement

By Norman Palihawadana

Archbishop of Colombo Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith yesterday said that there could be a connection between the outcome of the probe into the Easter Sunday attacks and the enlisting of Muslim MPs’ support for the passage of the 20th Amendment.

The Cardinal said: “The leader of a Muslim political party voted against the 2Oth Amendment. But his MPs voted for it. The brother of Rishad Bathiudeen too was released around the same time. These are questionable developments. These events could be part of a deal.”

The Cardinal reiterated that international forces were behind the Easter Sunday attacks and that he did not believe that there had been any local political group directly involved in the Easter attacks.

Addressing the media yesterday, the Cardinal said that the remarks he made on Sunday had been misunderstood. He stood by his claim that international forces had been behind the attacks, he said.

“However, some people claim that I said a local political group was behind the attack. I have always maintained that there are international forces that use religious and ethnic extremists such as Wahabists to create conflicts. I was referring to such groups.”

The Cardinal added that only a small group of Muslims was involved in extremism.

The Archbishop also said that former President Maithripala Sirisena believed that taking action against extremists like NTJ leader Zahran Hashim would create unnecessary issues.

“Something along these lines is also in the PCoI on Easter Sunday attacks. The report also implies that the then Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe was lenient in dealing with growing extremism in Sri Lanka.”

The Cardinal urged the government to protect the country and ensure that there would be no repeats of incidents like the Easter Sunday attacks.

The Archbishop of Colombo requested all religious leaders to work on rebuilding trust among all communities.



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AG appeals to Supreme Court against granting of bail to Ravi, others



The Attorney General yesterday appealed to the Supreme Court against bail for former Minister Ravi Karunanayake and seven others indicted in the bond case by the Colombo Special High Court Trial-at-Bar.

The eight accused were arrested and remanded over the bond scams. Later, they were released on bail.

The court warned that if the accused attempted to exert influence on the witnesses, by any means, bail would be revoked and they would be placed on remand until the end of the trial.



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26 more coronavirus cases detected in Jaffna Tirunelveli market area



Another 26 COVID-19 cases had been detected on Sunday, from the Tirunelveli Market in Jaffna, which was the epicentre of the recent outbreak in the town, Dr. A. Kethiswaran, Regional Director Health Services told the media yesterday.

The market and its surroundings had been reopened on April 11 following a 19-day lockdown. However, 378 PCR tests were conducted after the Sinhala and Tamil New Year and 26 of them proved positive.

Dr. Kethiswaran warned last week that there might be a spike in COVID-19 cases in Jaffna after the New Year celebrations.

A large number of COVID-19 cases had been reported in Jaffna in the past few weeks. Thus, the people should adhere to health guidelines. If people did not follow the guidelines, there would be a spike in cases and then some places would have to be lockdown, he warned.

“It’s too early to say whether we have to close the area down. We are monitoring the situation,” DR. Kethiswaran said.

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