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Razed Sri Lankan Muslim shrine to be rebuilt

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By Charles Haviland BBC News, Colombo: Sri Lanka’s defence secretary, Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, has ordered the reconstruction of a Muslim shrine recently destroyed by Buddhist monks.

Mr Rajapaksa told a delegation of prominent Muslims the shrine will be rebuilt after Buddhist monks led a crowd in tearing it down nine days ago. The monk who led the demolition said the shrine was built on land given to Buddhists 2,000 years ago.

He accused Muslims of planning to make it a mosque – Muslim leaders deny this.

Welcoming the rebuilding order, one told the BBC it was a place where a variety of religious believers came to pray.

The small shrine was built around a tomb, and said to be hundreds of years old, is located in Anuradhapura, Sri Lanka’s ancient capital and held sacred by many Buddhists.

The chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, NM Ameen, said Muslims and Sinhalese Buddhists lived peacefully together, but that “unknown groups” had been trying to create problems between them.

He said the defence secretary gave other directives on behalf of Muslims, including a guarantee that there would be no interference in a Muslim ritual of animal sacrifice due to take place at a forthcoming festival.

Last week, a populist cabinet minister, Mervyn Silva, intervened to stop a similar ritual at a Tamil Hindu temple and threatened to “cut off the hands” of anyone sacrificing animals in future – even though such rituals are legal.

The shrine controversy may not be over. Many Buddhists commenting on websites feel such a Muslim structure has no place on a site holy to Buddhists.

But there is also strong criticism of those that took the law into their own hands in destroying it.-BBC

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September 19, 2011 at 9:27 pm

Posted in News

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