By Saman Indrajith
Zharan Hashim’s call for the Muslims to kill people of other faiths had been brought to the notice of President Maithripala Sirisena in March, 2017, but there had been no response, the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) probing the Easter Sunday carnage was informed yesterday.
Testifying before the committee, Secretary of Al Haj Abdul Jawadh Alim Waliyyullah Trust, Sufi Moulavi KRM Sahlan said that his organisation had submitted a written complaint against Zahran’s call for the killings of people of other faiths, on March 27, 2017, to the President’s Office. “We also submitted CDs containing three speeches and warned that there would be a disaster if Zahran was allowed to continue in that manner.
Sahlaan said that the copies of the same complaint had been sent to the Prime Minister’s Office, the Office of the then Justice Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakse, Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayake, State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, IGP, Attorney General’s Department, and Director Terrorist Investigation Division DIG Nalaka de Silva.
In his speeches, Zahran had called for spilling the blood of people of other faiths, Sahlan said.
Field Marshal Fonseka: Did anyone respond to your complaint?
Sahlan: Yes, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Attorney General’s Department acknowledged receipt of the complaint and stated that they would look into the matter.
Sahlan said: Zharan’s group worked against Mahinda Rajapaksa and supported common candidate Maithripala Sirisena during the 2015 Presidential election. The then Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana said in newspaper interviews that there were armed extremists operating in Kattankudy, in 2011. Zahran’s group continued to attack Sufi Muslims. They denigrated us in public. According to his teachings Sufis were not true Muslims. He published a monthly magazine called Towheed attacking us. He published pamphlets denigrating us. The magazine first hit news stands in 2013. In 2016 and 2017, we lodged 11 complaints with the Kattankudy police station against Zahran’s group. We complained to Army, too. In 2015, we complained to Maj Gen Lal Perera of harassment against us. He summoned Zahran and warned him to refrain from attacking other religious groups. But the National Thowheed Jamaath continued to attack us. There are around 10,000 Sufis in Kattankudy area. In 2015, Zahran got all candidates to sign an agreement denouncing Sufis. We have been called a group against true Islam teachings.
Field Marshal Fonseka: Did he attack only Sufis? What about other religions?
Sahlan: In 2016, Zahran preached against Catholics and distributed leaflets condemning the Christmas and calling on the people not to celebrate Christmas. I have a CD of his speech and submit a copy of the speech to the PSC.
Field Marshal Fonseka: Did Zahran condemn Buddhists and Buddhism?
Sahlan: Not to my knowledge. He also preached Jihad. At meetings held at the Hisbullah Cultural Centre in Kattankudy on 12.09,2016, 17.2.2017 and 2.03,2017 he said in public that all non-Muslims in Sri Lanka should be killed.
Field Marshal Fonseka: Did you complain of this to police?
Sahlan: Yes. Zahran stated that hoisting the national flag would be a threat to the Islamic state. He insisted that Muslims should capture power in Sri Lanka and hoist the Islamic flag. According to him patriots were no Muslims and Muslims should not espouse patriotism. He preached that Jihad was the true religion of Muslims.
“True Islam does not preach violence. It preaches peaceful co-existence with other communities, I am a true Sufi Muslim,” Shalan said, adding that today true teachings of Islam were being distorted by radical groups most of them preached Wahabism.
MP Sumanthiran: How many Wahab mosques are there?
Sahlan: There could be 10-15 mosques. There are about 15,000 followers. Not all Wahabists are extremists.
Minister Karunanayke: You are a moderate Muslim. How do you think this problem should be tackled?
Sahlan: There should be a major programme. Fundamentalism should be abhorred. We should keep in mind that brainwashing by extremists is the main cause of this crisis