Arabic street names banned in Sri Lanka

28th Jun 2019

Elham Asaad Buaras

Sri Lanka banned the use of Arabic street names on June 10. According to the Colombo-based Sunday Times, the county’s Languages Ministry ordered local authorities to remove all street boards with Arabic names. Mano Ganesan Languages Minister said, “Such name boards which violate the law.”

“As a common policy, we can’t allow street name boards to be printed in any other language other than English, Sinhala, and Tamil,” Ganesan said. The Government circular made it mandatory to seek permission in order to use any other language on a street name board.

The decision was taken on a day when the Special Investigation Board (SIB) submitted its findings on the Easter day bombings to President Maithripala Sirisena.

The Government appointed SIB on April 22 to identify the causes of the terror attacks along with other related matters. Sirisena asked his people “not to leave room for a Muslim Prabhakaran to be born.” “Today religious leaders and politicians are divided,” Sirisena said.

Prabhakaran was the leader of now-defunct Jaffna-based Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam – a separatist group seeking a sovereign state based on ethnic Tamil identity in northern Sri Lanka. He was killed in 2009 after a military operation by Sinhalese Government.

However, a top Tamil leader asked for an international investigation into the alleged injustice meted out to the minority Muslim community in the country in the aftermath of the massive Easter Sunday bombings on April 21. C V Wigneswaran, former Chief Minister of the Tamil-dominated Northern Province said, “The fundamental rights of the Muslims are being abused using an act of terror.”

“Muslims are a part of the Sri Lankan community, they are being subjected to injustice in violation of the country’s Constitution,” said Wigneswaran. Wigneswaran expressed solidarity with the Muslim ministers who resigned earlier this month claiming that the Government failed to ensure the safety of the minority community.

Nine Muslim ministers resigned to allow authorities to investigate allegations against some of them. There are 19 Muslims among the 225-member parliament and nine of them held Cabinet, state and deputy ministerial positions.

“Charges against Muslim politicians have not been proved. The Government must take responsibility for their resignations,” Wigneswaran said.

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