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Thursday, 07 June 2018 18:05

Trincomalee and Batticaloa DIRCs Take Steps to Ease Ethnic and Religious Tension

Under NPC’s project Inter-faith and Inter-ethnic dialogue in Sri Lanka, members of the District Inter Religious Committees (DIRCs) in Batticaloa and Trincomalee discussed several issues that were contributing to religious and ethnic tension in their districts, and planned activities to alleviate the tension.

In Trincomalee, four issues were identified for immediate action. These were business competition between different ethnic groups, religious leaders dividing the communities by preaching fundamentalism for political purposes, inability to pay back loans from finance companies and high drug and alcohol use resulting in domestic violence, poverty and robbery.

The new issues identified were clashing prayer times during Ramadan, wearing of the covered dress for Muslim girls in schools, building religious statues in public places, the lack of Tamil speaking policemen and neglected children of women working overseas.

The DIRC agreed to discuss the problems and come up with suitable solutions including improving skills, sharing knowledge and cooperation among DIRC members, workshops and awareness programmes of religion and culture and networking with other DIRCs.

In Batticaloa, the issues causing concern included the ignorance of youth about other cultures and religions, a dispute over a cemetery and unfair allocation of state land. Some solutions included awareness campaigns on religion and culture, celebrating festivals together and meeting relevant government officials to settle the matter of the allocation of state land.