Sri Lankan Muslim Council calls for protection of Buddhist sites threatened by IS


Sri Lankan Muslims leave prayers in Colombo. - Photo by AFP
Sri Lankan Muslims leave prayers in Colombo. - Photo by AFP

COLOMBO: In the wake of a call given by the radical Sri Lankan Buddhist clergy organisation, the Bodu Bala Sena, that Muslim organisations should clarify their stand on the Islamic State (IS), formerly known as the ISIS, the Sri Lankan Muslim Council has issued a statement denouncing the militant group as a terrorist organisation.

Calling for the protection of the ancient and historical Buddhist wonder of Borobudur in Indonesia after IS extremists threatened to attack it, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka said that IS and a number of other terrorist groups had been funded and armed by vested interests to destabilise the Arab and Muslim regions.

“We have repeatedly made our stance clear, such as when the Bamiyan Buddha statues were destroyed in Afghanistan. We were the first to protest,” N.M. Ameen, president of the council told Dawn in an interview.

In a letter to the President of Indonesia, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, the council said that it was with great shock and disbelief that the Sri Lankan Muslim community received reports of the threat posed by the IS to Borobudur.

“The architectural wonder of Borobudur is not only the largest Buddhist Temple in the world, but is aptly declared a Unesco heritage site for its architectural, cultural and religious value. Its religious and historical significance for Buddhists around the world is unparalleled.”

The threat posed by the IS with the sole intention of targeting places of religious significance is to create turmoil across the world in the name of Islam, the council said.

The Muslim Council noted that “Islam is a religion of peace and there is no space for terrorism or violence in Islam”. It added that entities with political interests had continued to arm some Muslims and create violence in a number of countries across the world, which is causing chaos in Muslim countries and threatening peace in the world.

Published in Dawn, September 3rd, 2014