The Muslim minority in Kandy are shutting their shops and avoiding unnecessary travel as the Sinhala Buddhist Right-Wing Bodu Bala Sena gathers for a public rally Sunday, July 7.
The umbrella Muslim organisation the All Ceylon Jamiat-e-Ulema asked Muslims not to travel to Kandy.
The Reuters News agency quoted Niyaz Muheeth, president of the Kandy Muslim Traders Association as saying that , “all Muslim-owned shops are likely to be closed on Sunday to avoid any possible confrontation, as thousands of monks are expected in the town for the conference,” told Reuters.
The BBS General Secretary Galagodaththe Gnanasara Thero has vowed to bring in ten thousand monks for the rally.
“This will be the biggest revival of the Sinhala Buddhist nation and bigger than 1956,” referring to the victory of the nationalist Sri Lanka Freedom Party in Parliamentary elections.
The BBS has booked the large Bogambara stadium in the center of the city and put up giant billboards along the road to Kandy from Colombo.
Meanwhile, other groups have expressed alarm.
The Jaffna People’s Forum for Coexistence in a statement issued Sunday pointed out that “there is tremendous fear that mass gatherings inciting ethnic and religious divisions can once again devastate a particular community.”
The statement said, therefore “we must recognise the dangers inherent in such mobilisations. We call upon all people living in the country to recognise the tragic history of the country, and reject the divisive actions and politics on the rise.”
It called on the government to control majoritarian activities. “The rights of all people must be safeguarded. We all have the democratic responsibility to extend our solidarity towards the Muslim community, work towards relieving their fear and protect their rights” it added.