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Govt. to start dialogue among religious and ethnic groups

Govt. to start dialogue among religious and ethnic groups
The government is to initiate a dialogue among various ethnic and religious groups in the country to ease the tension between such groups.

Minister of Justice and Buddhasasana, Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe told journalists that all ethnic and religious groups were welcome to participate in the dialogue.

He said various groups, including the Bodu Bala Sena and Ravana Balaya, had agreed to participate in the effort to resolve issues through dialogue. “The agreement was reached at a meeting I had with members of the Bodu Bala Sena and other groups in the Parliamentary Complex," he said.

However, he said, specific issues were not discussed, as the focus was on the creation of a platform to resolve the issues.

Referring to the statement he made in Parliament recently, that some Sri Lankan Muslims had joined ISIS, he said he was referring to Sri Lankans who had joined the group in the past and not to recent events.

He said the government wanted legislation against hate speech, which was already an offence under the penal code, upgraded to international standards. However, he said, it had to be stopped -- as those who wanted hate speech laws said upgrading the law was not necessary.

Bodu Bala Sena general secretary, the Ven. Galagodaatte Gnanasara Thera, said his organisation and the Sasanarakshaka Mandalaya as a whole would be engaged in a dialogue to try and resolve all issues in the future. "We trust the suggestion made by the minister," he said.

“Resolving issues through dialogue is the path shown by Buddha and we will take it," he said. (Yohan Perera)