06

Sri Lanka is a hospitable island nation of majority Buddhist faith citizens that has welcomed immigrants from all over the world to coexist peacefully, irrespective of their religion or race. The Buddhist philosophical outlook is a generous and egalitarian one that does not discriminate. This trait of tolerance has been tarnished by the actions of a few individuals who did not have the patience and strength of forgiveness to overcome the provocative action of four muslim youths who mercilessly assaulted a father of two children, who was a Sinhalese resident of Kandy. That event triggered a violent reprisal response that was a consequence of pent up animosity that has been building up between the two communities due to spate of incidents and a history of mistrust. The key to this insecurity is the population growth of the minority community of Muslims due to their legal entitlement to have multiple wives and have a large number of children. The Government has to address this duality of laws and establish one single law in the country like it is in China, Russia and Japan. Our nation must have the courage to discuss the difficult questions whilst being resolute in our resolve to stamp out racism, bigotry and sectarian violence. Every citizen, regardless of their ethnicity or religion is equal under the law and is a citizen with a right to practice their religion without causing harm to others or conducting conversions by exploiting poverty plights of people. The value of unity and the economic strength it fosters and the social resilience it assures cannot be undermined. As Sri Lankans we need to realize the folly of being divided on sectarian lines. Time to wake up and build a harmonious society based on mutual respect and sensitivity towards others.

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