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» 05/28/2012
Five thousand Catholics, Muslims and Hindus defend Mannar bishop against "vile" accusations
by 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.

Mannar (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.

In 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.

With 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.

"The 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 Mannar."

Similarly, 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."

"We 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 the same."

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See also
06/20/2006 SRI LANKA
Historical Buddhist temple attacked in Sri Lanka
04/14/2008 SRI LANKA
Bishops’ Conference calls for an end to violence around the Madhu Shrine
by Melani Manel Perera
01/11/2011 SRI LANKA
Mannar diocese offers proposal for genuine and lasting Tamil-Sinhalese reconciliation
by Melani Manel Perera
09/18/2008 SRI LANKA
More than a hundred thousand helpless refugees flee fighting between army and Tamil rebels
by Melani Manel Perera
09/08/2008 SRI LANKA
Government and rebels responsible for 94,000 displaced families, says bishop of Mannar
by Melani Manel Perera

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