By Chandani Kirinde
A representative of the Sufi community told the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) investigating the Easter Sunday attacks that members of his sect were at the receiving end of regular vicious verbal attacks by Zahran Hashim, the leader of the terror group.
Al Haj Abdul Jawadh Alim Waliyyullah Trust Secretary Sufi Moulavi K.R.M. Sahlan told the Committee on Tuesday that Zahran had called members of the Sufi community, who number around 10,000 in the Kattankudy area, non-Muslim and regarded them as converts to another faith.
“Zahran and his group propagated hatred against the Sufis using their meetings to label us as non-Muslims,” an emotional Moulavi Sahlan told the Committee, breaking down in tears as he detailed the insults and intimidation members of his community had to endure over the years.
“In his Speeches Terror Group Leader Zahran Hashim “Called to wet the earth of this country from the blood of people of other faiths,” Discloses Sufi Moulavi K. R. M. Sahlan Before Parliamentary Select Committee
“According to Zahran’s teachings Sufis are not true Muslims. He published a monthly magazine by the name of Thowheed which always instigated other Muslims against us. He published pamphlets denigrating us. The magazine first came to the newsstands in 2013. In 2017 and 2016 years we lodged 11 complaints at the Kattankudy Police Station against Zahran’s group. We complained to the Army too in 2015, namely to Major General Lal Perera who was the Commanding Officer of the area of the harassments against us. He summoned Zahran and warned him to refrain from attacking other religious groups. But National Thowheed Jamaath continued to attack us,” he said.
Sahlan said that in 2015 Zahran got all candidates to sign an agreement denouncing Sufis in return for backing their election campaigns.
He said that as Zahran’s campaign of hatred against the Sufis escalated with him calling for the killings of people of other faiths, his organisation had written to the President’s office in March 2017. “We submitted compact discs containing copies of three speeches Zahran made and warned that there would be a disaster if Zahran is allowed to continue in that manner,” he said.
Copies of the same complaint was sent to the Prime Minister’s office, office of the then Justice Minister Wijayadasa Rajapakshe, then Law and Order Minister Sagala Ratnayaka, State Defence Minister Ruwan Wijewardene, IGP, Attorney General’s Department, and then Director Terrorist Investigation Division DIG Nalaka De Silva. The PM’s Office and the AG’s Department acknowledged the receipt of the complaint and stated that they would look into the matter.
“In his speeches, Zahran called to wet the earth of this country from the blood of people of other faiths,” Sahlan said. He also preached of Jihad. In meetings held at Hisbullah Cultural Centre in Kattankudy on 12.09.2016, 17.02.2017 and 02.03.2017 stated in public that all non-Muslims in Sri Lanka should be killed.”
Moulavi Sahlan said that true Islam does not preach violence. It preaches peaceful coexistence with other communities.
“I am a true Sufi Muslim,” Sahlan said breaking into tears adding that today true teachings of Islam are being distorted by radical groups. Most of them preach Wahhabism.
He warned that if the spread of Wahhabism which is practised in around 10-15 mosques in the area with about 15,000 followers goes unchecked, then there is a danger of more violence in the future.
“Fundamentalists on all sides should be abhorred whatever religion they belong to. We should keep in mind that brainwashing by extremists is the main cause of this crisis. A concerted effort must be made to help the misguided youth who are attracted to such extreme teachings,” he said.