SLMC Chairman and Productivity Promotion Minister Basheer Cegudawood (Batticaloa District MP) has warned that the ruling coalition will have to face catastrophic consequences unless tangible action is taken immediately to rein in extremist Sinhala organisations.
Parliamentarian Cegudawood has asserted that President Mahinda Rajapaksa will lose the support of the vast majority of Sinhala Buddhist electorate which abhorred sentiments propagated by organisations such as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Ravana Balaya (RB), besides losing the backing of the Muslims as well as other minorities.
The SLMC Chairman made these observations recently while addressing the 64th Annual General Meeting of the Young Men’s Muslim Association (YMMA) at the auditorium of Madeena National School at Madawala.
Referring to recent violence against Muslims living in Alutgama, Beruwela and some adjoining areas, Cegudawood emphasised that failure to neutralise the threat posed by extremists would render President Mahinda Rajapaksa vulnerable at the next national level election.
Cegudawood urged the Muslim community to join hands with those among the Sinhalese community opposed to extremism as well as Tamils genuinely interested in peace to face the challenge posed by the BBS, Ravana Balaya as well Sihala Urumaya. In the face of growing extremist challenge, the Muslim community couldn’t ignore the pivotal importance of having close rapport with the majority community, Cegudawood said.
The YMMA should intervene and work closely with civil society organizations, which represented the Buddhists, Hindus as well as Catholics, he said.
Pointing out the growing use of social media by all communities, MP Cegudawood said that they couldn’t be emotional in handling the crisis. The SLMC senior said that whatever the challenges and threats faced by the Muslims, the community would have to depend on existing state institutions to resolve the crisis. Cegudawood strongly opposed to the Muslim community acting in isolation, at a time they should work with those who have been opposed to extremism.
Recollecting the struggle waged by the Tamils against successive governments, Cegudawood asserted that their campaign could have taken a different path had there been a genuine effort to inform the majority community of the injustices caused to them. Having realized the need to win the confidence of the majority community, the LTTE launched a Sinhala newspaper, the MP said. However, the LTTE action would have made a difference had the group acted much earlier, he said.
Referring to atrocities committed by the LTTE against the Muslim community during the eelam conflict, Cegudawood vowed that whatever the challenges faced by them they would never flee the country. Cegudawood said: “We will not seek refuge in Europe, Middle East or any other country, including India. Neither will we allow anyone to exploit us.”