Foreign Minister Prof. G.L. Peiris hosted a working dinner for the Heads of Mission of Islamic States in Colombo on November 30. Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa joined the occasion as Guest of Honour.
The Minister exchanged views with the Islamic envoys on the constructive role played by the Sri Lankan Muslim community historically and in the recent political and social life in the country. This enriching interaction with the Muslim community of Sri Lanka extends to the most cordial relations Sri Lanka enjoys with the Islamic States of the international community.
The Minister said that Sri Lanka will continue to uphold its rich democratic tradition as a society where every person irrespective of their religion, ethnicity or race enjoys the freedom to express their identity by practising their own religion, culture and language. This is also reflected in the rich and varied legal tradition, which includes personal laws specific to Muslim, Kandyan and Tamil communities, which Sri Lanka will continue to retain. In recent years, as in other parts of the world, fringe groups of extremists in the name of various faiths have tried to disrupt this social harmony and create confusion in society, including through the misuse of modern communication technology and ungoverned access to social media. The Minister also explained to the Islamic envoys the legislative steps currently underway to curb such hate speech.
The envoys agreed that diversity of religion and culture was a strength to Sri Lanka and expressed confidence in the measures taken by the Government to clarify ambiguities spread by extreme elements, as well as other recent progressive step relevant to the Muslim community. They expressed their solidarity with Sri Lanka in these efforts as well as their cooperation in overcoming the challenges related to economic recovery and progress.
The Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister thanked the envoys for the open and constructive discussion, and for their goodwill towards Sri Lanka.
The envoys from Oman, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Qatar, Turkey, Malaysia, Maldives, Bangladesh, Pakistan; Libya, Egypt, Kuwait, Iran and UAE were present.