The Security Council has refuted a statement made by Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe that 32 Sri Lankan Muslims have joined ISIS.
During a meeting held with President Maithripala Sirisena, the Security Council had said that they have received no information with regard to Wijeyadasa’s statement that 32 Muslims had joined the ISIS. The matter was taken up by the council, soon after Wijeyadasa made claims to the effect that several Sri Lankan Muslims had joined the ISIS. The matter had been brought up by Sirisena, who heads the Council and had asked for verification on the matter from the members of the Council, which also included members from the State Intelligence Service.
Meanwhile, addressing the weekly cabinet briefing on Wednesday, cabinet spokesman Rajitha Senaratne had also refuted Rajapakshe’s statement that 32 Sri Lankan Muslims had joined the ISIS.
Last Friday, Rajapakshe told Parliament that 32 Muslims had joined ISIS. The statement was picked up and given wide publicity across all main stream media. However, subsequent to the Justice Minister’s statement, it was revealed that Wijeyadasa was repeating the old numbers announced by Defence Secretary Karunasena Hettiarachchi who told an event in early January this year that 36 Muslims had gone to Syria, some to join ISIS.
During his speech, Wijeyadasa alleged that the 32 Muslims who had gone to join ISIS were from 4 families who were well connected and well respected. “There is a serious situation brewing in this country,” he said.
Following his statement, the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) objected to Rajapakshe’s unverified announcement saying it was a ‘misplaced’ statement. The President of the MCSL, N M Ameen said that Rajapakshe’s statement came at a very opportune time to certain extremist elements bent on tarnishing the image of the Muslim community for reasons only best known to them.