Ambassador Haidari and OIC Envoys Call on the Leader of the Opposition fr. President Rajapaksa Concerning Hate Speech and Islamophobia in Sri Lanka

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Colombo: - Ambassador M. Ashraf Haidari along with his counterparts from the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) met with the Sri Lankan Leader of Opposition the Honorable fr. President Mahinda Rajapaksa on July 05, 2019 to discuss with him their collective concern with regards to an escalation in acts of intimidation, discrimination, and marginalization, targeting the Sri Lankan Muslim community, including their small or large business establishments. 

Ambassador Haidari extended to the Honorable fr. President Rajapaksa the greetings of President Ashraf Ghani, who was the first world leader to condemn the terrorist attacks on April 21 by the few brainwashed, radicalized extremists. The Ambassador noted, however, that the crime of the few extremists shouldn't subject the whole Sri Lankan Muslim community to intimidation, prejudice and marginalization.

From Afghanistan's experience, he said that the vast majority of victims of  terrorism are actually innocent citizens of Muslim countries. While terrorists blew up churches on 4/21 in Sri Lanka, they daily target Afghans and often bomb mosques in Afghanistan. Hence, the Ambassador called on all Sri Lankan political leaders in and outside of the Government, including the Opposition, to condemn in strongest terms any hate speech and discriminatory acts against the Sri Lankan Muslim community or any other community.

This move would effectively help deprive extremists of further opportunities to radicalize vulnerable youth in Sri Lanka. Ambassador Haidari also noted that at a time when Sri Lanka is striving to revitalize its affected economy and tourism industry, any damage to its soft, friendly image would render its recovery efforts fruitless. He reiterated the strong solidarity of the Afghan Government and people with Sri Lanka. 

The Honorable fr. President Rajapaksa took note of the concerns expressed by the OIC envoys and assured them that he would call for inter-communal peace and harmony across Sri Lanka, frequently speaking up against targeting of the Muslim community due to politicization of the 4/21 #terroristattacks, in light of the upcoming elections in the country.

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