Halal: The ball is in Cabinet Sub-Com courtView(s):
By Charundi Panagoda
The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) will wait for the Cabinet sub-Committee decision following Bodu Bala Sena’s rejection of their proposal to have the Government take over Halal certification, an ACJU member told the Sunday Times.The ACJU said it had exhausted all its alternative suggestions regarding the Halal controversy, therefore now had to wait for the committee’s decision. Former Prime Minister Ratnasiri Wickremanayaka, who heads the Cabinet sub-Committee, said they were not issuing any media statements at the moment.
Minister and Committee Member Vasudeva Nanayakkara said the committee, which had held three meetings so far, had yet to “arrive at any understanding of the suggestions,” but would “try to understand the ramifications and consequences of this situation and accordingly propose some recommendations how this can be defused.”
On Tuesday, the ACJU proposed that the Government “as an alternative” take over the Halal certification process, if only to “avoid continuous debate on this sensitive issue which could threaten the peaceful coexistence of the people.”
The ACJU suggested that the Government could follow systems like in other predominantly Buddhist countries such as Singapore and Thailand.Without direct references to the Bodu Bala Sena, which is agitating against the Halal certification system, the ACJU said the Halal certification process had been used to create divisions and disturbances particularly among the Muslims and Sinhalese.
But the BBS rejected the ACJU’s proposal the following day in a vitriolic media conference, where the organisation termed Halal certification an “illegitimate, disabled child” the ACJU was trying to “legitimise with a birth certificate” by proposing state interference. Government spokesman Keheliya Rambukwella announced on Thursday that the Government was not prepared to intervene in Halal certification.
Describing Ulamas as “arrogant, corrupt, thieving, underworld thugs,” BBS called for Halal certification to be “completely removed” and denied the issue is creating communal tensions. “Don’t point fingers at us. We didn’t create this problem,” Ven. Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thera said.
Despite vitriol, the ACJU met with the Asgiri Maha Vihara Karaka Sangha Sabha last week to ease the tension. A top-level Muslim delegation, including Muslim Council of Sri Lanka President N.M. Ameen and former Bar Association President Ikram Mohamed, P.C., met the the Malwatte Chapter Mahanayaka Ven. Thibbatuwawe Sumangala Thera to “discuss the misunderstanding between the communities.”
“The Mahanayake said we should solve this issue through dialogue and maintain the centuries-old harmony between the Sinhala and Muslim communities,” Mr. Ameen said.
The Sunday Times interviews with several ordinary shoppers revealed the public too is confused and divided on the issue. While some shoppers said they were not “concerned about Halal,” others said statements in the media and by various organisations made them concerned about Halal “being forced on them,” and “Halal money going to foreign groups.”
Harini Amarasooriya, Senior Sociology Lecturer at the Open University, said various “conspiracy theories” come up in times of economic uncertainty and hardship.
“There’s very little basis for these stories, but when people feel insecure and economically frustrated, that climate is fertile for people to start blaming somebody or something,” Dr. Amarasooriya said. “When they feel out of control in their lives, they like to find a scapegoat.”
comments powered by Disqus