Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms, addressing a press conference in Colombo on Monday.
Rauff Hakeem, Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms, addressing a press conference in Colombo on Monday.

Muslim ministers decide to resign as wave of communal violence grips Sri Lanka

ANI | Updated: Jun 03, 2019 23:18 IST

Colombo [Sri Lanka], June 3 (ANI): All Muslim ministers -- Cabinet, State, and Deputy -- on Monday decided to resign from their respective positions after accusing the government of failing to guarantee the security of the nation's minority Muslim community amid fears of attacks following the Easter terror bombings.
Quoting Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms Rauff Hakeem, who addressed a news briefing at Temple Trees here, Daily Mirror reported that they would continue to support the government for its survival.
"We will assist the government to survive but their survival will depend on their conduct on conducting investigations thoroughly and properly and do justice to everyone equally," the minister said.
"If our ministerial portfolios are in the way, we are willing to give it up for the safety of our community," he said.
According to him, Cabinet Ministers Kabir Hashim, MHA Haleem, and Rishad Bathiudeen, State Ministers Faizal Cassim, HMM Harees, Ameer Ali Shihabdeen, and Seyed Ali Zahir Moulana and Deputy Minister Abdullah Mahrooff have decided to resign.
The decision comes after the hardline Buddhist monks, including firebrand monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, set a deadline for the government to fire Muslim provincial Governors and a Minister.
Gnanasara, who has long been accused of instigating hate crimes against Muslims, was released from the jail on a Presidential pardon last month, Al Jazeera reported.
The resignations of nine ministers and two provincial governors come after thousands of people led by Buddhist monks began demonstrating this morning in the country's central city of Kandy, 115 km east of the capital Colombo.
Three weeks ago, mob violence swept through Sri Lanka's North Western Province, destroying hundreds of Muslims' properties and killing one in apparent reprisal for the April suicide bombings in the island nation.
Hakeem also said that they were ready to face any punishment if any of them were found guilty and added that innocent people should not be punished.
He said: "But as a matter fact, what is happening today is innocent people are at the receiving end. They have become victims. It is true that some of the perpetrators of the April 21 incident were among our community. But we cooperated fully from the very first day to assist all law enforcement agencies and tri forces to establish sanity in the country and find the truth."
"We have been suffering heavier harassment. There are several who are languishing in remand prisons on minor issues. We expect the government to complete the inquiry thoroughly and fully," he added.
Tension in Sri Lanka heightened after eight serial blasts rattle three churches and three high-end hotels located across the country on Easter Sunday, killing more than 250 people. The attack was conducted by a local Islamic Jihadi group, National Thowheed Jammath (NTJ), an affiliate of the ISIS (Islamic State). (ANI)

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