While identifying unity among communities and religious harmony as vital factors in the country’s progress, President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday stressed that divisions among these groups will only strengthen various hostile forces seeking to derail the Nation’s development and tarnish its image.
The President was speaking at the opening of the renovated Jumma Mosque building at Seenawatte, Aluthgama, last morning.
Addressing a large gathering at the Mosque premises, the President said that when all people rise in unity sans differences, the forces hostile to the country will be weakened and development and peace further strengthened.
The President noted that his government had always acted to ensure religious co-existence with firm determination and a clear commitment to national unity.
However, the President noted that despite these efforts, there were some hostile forces who were trying to create the impression that there was religious tensions and violence in the country through some foreign media and news websites.
He said there were also elements who were trying to create unrest within the country at times using false propaganda to create a wrong impression in the minds of the people.
The President observed that even during the conflict period, his government had not allowed any damage to occur to religious places and added that now with peace firmly established, he will ensure that such incidents will not happen at any cost.
He noted that from within the hallowed premises of the Mosque, he hoped that once the motives about those elements making false and malicious accusations against the country is revealed, everything will be put to rest once and for all.
President Rajapaksa on the same note went on to say that his government has ensured that the country cannot be divided on ethnic or religious grounds.
He stressed that there should be no room for racism and extremism to surface again.
“After a long drawn conflict, Sri Lanka today is a nation where all communities can live together, enjoying their rights equally. Our government has ensured that all people get equal opportunities and facilities irrespective of where they live.
In all matters the government strives to achieve equity” he added.
Speaking about the Jumma Mosque, the President said he considered it as an honour to declare open the renovated Mosque which is 1,200 years old and considered the second Mosque to be established in Sri Lanka.
The President recalled that he also had happened to open a new building for a Mosque in Nuwara Eliya last year, considered as the first such religious facility to be opened by a Head of State in Sri Lanka.
He also paid tribute to Muslim leaders of the past and said they had always thought about the country first and this was demonstrated on many occasions.
He said similarly it was the responsibility of all to think about the country first irrespective of differences.