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Religious Unrest Continues in Sri Lanka

An attack was launched by a Buddhist mob against a Mosque in Colombo on Saturday August 10th 2013, just one day after Muslims celebrated “Eid Ul Fitr”. At least 12 people were injured in scuffles that broke out during the siege. The reason for the attack was based on the claim that the new three-storey structure on […]

History

During the period 2004 to 2009, until the armed conflict between the LTTE and the Government of Sri Lanka concluded, there were three apex Peace institutions functioning on the island. The government initiated Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP), the LTTE Peace Secretariat and the Peace Secretariat for Muslims (PSM) were engaged in discussions and mediation to facilitate consensus building for cohesive responses on vital issues affecting the various communities in Sri Lanka. After the cessation of the armed conflict between the LTTE and the Sri Lankan armed forces in May 2009, these institutions were considered unnecessary with the disbanding of SCOPP by the government. Thus the role of the Peace Secretariat for Muslims needed to be re-visited and a new niche carved for itself for future sustainability.

 

The Peace Secretariat for Muslims was established in 2004 with the specific mandate of building consensus among the members of the Muslim community and dialoguing with the different political stakeholders.

 

The PSM had established an extensive regional network of offices in Galle Trincomalee, Puttalam, Batticaloa and Ampara and through these offices provided the space necessary for Muslims to discuss issues that affected them and make recommendations, etc.

 

As part of its advocacy process, the PSM engaged with parliamentarians in different aspects of the peace process, to provide them information and insight into the issues faced by the Muslim community. What was of great significance was that it was not just the Muslim politicians who recognized the value add provided by the PSM, but that the donor community as well bought into the process.

 

In 2010, the PSM in consultation with its stakeholders identified and agreed that a dire need exists for the establishment of a strong umbrella institution for Muslim civil society organizations and activists. The PSM also recognized the critical importance of working with political personalities who are committed to the same issues and agreed that the proposed institution must have the confidence of and ownership by both civil society as well as political stakeholders. As a result the PSM Board along with several members of civil society transformed the PSM into the Secretariat for Muslims which is a civil society organization with the presence of a few political actors on its Board.