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Sri Lanka's main Islamic party refuses to relocate controversial mosque

Colombo, Mon, 30 Apr 2012 ANI

Colombo, Apr 30 (Xinhua-ANI): Sri Lanka's main Muslim political party Muslim Congress, a government ally on Monday wowed not to reach any compromise on the removal of controversial Muslim mosque in the central part of the country.

Party leader Rauff Hakeem, also minister of justice, said that the minority Muslims would never agree to relocate the mosque and said it was an attempt by the xenophobic elements to incite communal disharmony.

"As a responsible government we expect that the grievances of the minorities are addressed," said Hakeem.

On April 20, a crowd of Buddhist monks tried to demolish the mosque in the central town of Dambulla, saying it was an illegal construction in the sacred Buddhist city.

Two days later the country's prime minister who is also minister of religious affairs ordered the relocation of the mosque and declared the area a Buddhist sacred site.

The decision angered senior Muslim politicians including those in the government. The Muslims also staged public protest last week by closing shops and taking to streets and claimed the mosque was there for last 50 years.

The Muslim Congress leadership is to raise the issue with the president this week.

The Muslim Congress which contested in 2010 general election under the opposition and won eight out of 225 seats but joined the government during the budget presentation in 2011.

Sri Lankan Muslims have lived in Sri Lanka since the 8th century and have the third largest population after Buddhists of 70 percent and Hindus of 15 percent. (Xinhua-ANI)

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