Sri Lanka Muslim ministers quit to protest ‘threat to community’

(Al jazeera) – All of Sri Lanka’s Muslim ministers and their deputies have resigned from their portfolios after accusing the government of failing to guarantee the security of the nation’s minority Muslim community amid fears of attacks following the Easter suicide bombings.

The decision comes after hardline Buddhist monks, including firebrand monk Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, set a deadline to 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 jail on a presidential pardon last month.

If our ministerial portfolios is in the way, we are willing to give it up for the safety of our community
RAUFF HAKEEM, THE LEADER OF SRI LANKA MUSLIM CONGRESS

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, 115km east of the capital Colombo.

Three weeks ago, mobs 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 – a popular tourist destination.

“It is disturbing to see Muslim politicians being forced to resign their posts on the basis of unproven allegations made by politically powerful religious leaders who claim to speak for the Buddhist majority, backed by a thinly veiled threat of violence,” said Alan Keenan, Sri Lanka Project Director, International Crisis Group, referring to two governors.

“This sets a disturbing precedent, especially in Sri Lanka, where the repeated violation of the due process rights of minorities and political dissidents has contributed directly to Sri Lanka’s decades of extreme political violence,” he told Al Jazeera.

Keenan, however, said that police should investigate the allegations that some Muslim politicians may have been linked to Easter blasts.

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