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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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EC member Hoole moves SC against 20A

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Petitions challenging 20A before five-judge bench of SC today 

By Chitra Weerarathne

Petitions filed in the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the proposed 20th Amendment to the Constitution of Sri Lanka, will be called before a five-judge bench today.

These petitions have said that people’s approval at a referendum as well as a two-thirds majority in Parliament will be needed to enact the Bill.

All the petitions have basically said that the Bill has a section, which says a dual citizen can contest to enter the Parliament of Sri Lanka and run for President threatened national security.

The petitions challenge the powers vested in the President. The President could sack the Prime Minister and the Ministers. Once the Bill becomes law, fundamental rights petitions could not be filed to challenge an act of the President, the petitions have pointed out.

The investigating powers of the Auditor General have been curtailed. The powers vested in the Elections Commission when an election is on is also limited, the petitioners have argued.

The petitions have requested the Supreme Court to declare that a two-thirds majority in Parliament and people’s approval at a referendum will be needed to enact the proposed amendment.

Among the petitioners are Elections Commission member Ratnajeevan Hoole, the Samagi Jana Balavegaya, Attorney-at-Law Indika Gallage, Mayantha Dissanayake, S. J. B. Member of Parliament for the Kandy District and also the President of the Youth League of the Samagi Jana Balavegaya.

The Supreme Court bench will comprise the Chief Justice Jayantha Jayasuriya, Justice Buwaneka Aluwihare, Justice Sisira de Abrew, Justice S. Thurairajah and Justice Vijith K. Malalgoda.

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Senasinghe announces quitting politics

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By Akitha Perera

Former non-cabinet minister of the yahapalana government Sujeewa Senasinghe announced yesterday that he would quit politics. 

He had also stepped down as the SJB Deputy Secretary, Senasinghe said. 

Senasinghe said that he intended to focus on his business in the future and that he would commence work on his PhD from January 2021. 

He unsuccessfully contested the Aug 05 general election from the Colombo district on SJB ticket.

Senasinghe commenced his political career as a member of the Western Provincial Council of the UNP. He was elected to Parliament twice from the same party. 

He earned notoriety by publishing a book denying the bond scam ever took place.

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Pujith insists his hands were tied during crucial period 

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By Rathindra Kuruwita

He had been aware that the activities and preaching of Islamists would have an impact on reconciliation, but those in higher positions were convinced otherwise, former IGP Pujith Jayasundara, yesterday, told the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCoI) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

The ex-IGP said that although he too had received information about activities of Islamic extremists by late 2018, he had been barred from the National Security Council (NSC) by then.

“I couldn’t share the information I had and I didn’t know what was discussed there. I couldn’t even assign a senior officer to represent me there.”

Jayasundara added that after he had received, on April 09, a report from State Intelligence Service (SIS) Director Nilantha Jayawardena about a possible terrorist attack, he forwarded the report to SDIG of Western Province, Nandana Munasinghe, SDIG crimes and STF M.R. Latheef, DIG special protection range Priyalal Dasanayake and Director of the Terrorism Investigation Division, Waruna Jayasundara and spoke to them over the phone.

Jayasundara said that he had also phoned all SDIGs in charge of provinces. The witness added that he had wanted to ensure that there would not be a leak, causing unnecessary problems in society.

“For example, the letter I sent to the Special Protection Range (SPR) was leaked to the media after the attacks.”

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