Rift in Sri Lanka over Halal certification issue
COLOMBO — The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), the body that provides Halal certification to businesses has requested the government to take over the Halal certification following a communal rift caused by a Buddhist extremist group.
After weeks of agitation by the Bodu Bala Sena or the Buddhist strength force, demanding to abolish the certification of Halal foods by the end of next month, the ACJU on Tuesday asked the government to solve the issue.
“Halal is part of our faith and is important to us. It will remain, but by whom is not important,” said the ACJU spokesperson Moulavi Fazil Farook.
The Islamic faith prohibits certain food and drink to be consumed and the Halal certification in various countries endorses that certified food products do not contain any forbidden ingredients.
The Muslim body that has been issuing Halal certification to Muslim as well as non-Muslim organisations for over a decade says that it will provide the expertise and Shariah (Islamic law) support to the government to carry out Halal certification. “We are doing this only to maintain religious harmony, peace and co-existence amongst communities,” said Moulavi Farook.
The ACJU has requested the government to follow the Halal certification system introduced in Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia where the state provides the certification.
“False accusations have been levied at us that huge amounts of monies earned from Halal certification have been used to fund terrorism, and we hope this move will remove any ambiguity surrounding it,” said the ACJU spokesperson.
However, the Bodu Bala Sena, which was founded by Buddhist clergy, rejected the proposal by the ACJU calling the government’s provision of Halal certificates “not acceptable as a final solution”.
According to the Buddhist party, it is not against the issuing of Halal certificates, but the issuing of it to Buddhist organisations.
With a 10 per cent Muslim population who have a strong purchasing power in the Buddhist majority country, most of the businesses registered for Halal certification are non-Muslim entities.
During a huge rally in Maharagama in the outskirts of capital Colombo last week, the Bodu Bala Sena demanded that the government should ban on birth control for Buddhists, allowance of seven wives for Buddhist men and the abolition of Halal food and beverages by March 31.
Muslim businesses in several parts of the country, including Kurunegala, Matara and Gampaha have received letters threatening them with dire consequences if their business ventures are not closed.