» 05/28/2012, 00.00
Five thousand Catholics, Muslims and Hindus defend Mannar bishop against "vile" accusations
Melani Manel Perera
Sri Lanka's Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen, a Muslim, accuses Mgr Rayappu Joseph of stirring the Tamil community against Muslims in his region. People from across the country come together to demand an official apology. "No one defends our rights like the bishops," Muslims and Hindus say.
(AsiaNews) - More than 5,000 people, Christians, Muslims and Hindus, lay people, members of the clergy and Senior and junior Tamil politicians, gathered yesterday at the Cathedral of St Sebastian
in Mannar to show their support and express their solidarity with Mgr Rayappu
Joseph, bishop of Mannar (Northern Province), against the "vile comments" of
the Industry and Commerce Minister Rishad Bathiudeen.
a recent statement in parliament, the minister accused the bishop of stirring
the Tamil population in his region against Muslims. He even compared the bishop
to the Ven Innamaluwe Sumangala Nayak Thero, a Buddhist monk from the Golden
Temple in Dambulla, who in late April backed a group of Buddhists who
attacked a mosque.
people coming from around Sri Lanka, rally participants stressed the "extraordinary
courage" Mgr Joseph puts in everything he does. At the end of the meeting, people
appealed to the minister to apologise to the prelate.
minister, a Muslim, should be condemned for his statement," said Makkal Caddar,
a retired imam. "We appreciate what the bishop is doing for all the people of
for Sister Jacintha, a nun with the Sisters of Charity that represented the Trincomalee & Batticaloa Diocese, the minister's remarks "undermine
harmony in the population."
admire what Mgr Joseph does," said Mano Iankaran Sharma, a Hindu. "His
dedication is incredible. He works on behalf of each one of us, Tamil,
Sinhalese, Catholics, Hindus or Muslims. I have never seen a Hindu priest do
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