Colombo, May 17: Sri Lankan Muslim leaders have called for one united identity of the island nation while expressing solidarity with the victims of the April 21 Easter Sunday terror attacks and those affected by the recent spate of violence.
"We, as a community, have done a lot of soul searching following the attacks. We could not imagine that they came from us. We concede that we saw elements but didn't think it would turn to this," the Daily Mirror quoted Public Development Minister Kabir Hashim as saying on Thursday evening.
Addressing a media conference at which former Ministers Imthiyaz Bakeer Marker and Ferial Ashroff were present, Hashim said the need of the hour was to "forge a Lankan identity".
He added that there was "soul searching from within the community unbeknownst to many".
A Muslim leader said that admonishing a whole community of two million for what the terrorists did was unjustifiable.
"We immediately took steps to take on the issue of the Madrasas and want them regulated under the Ministry of Higher Education. We want to know what is taught at these Madrasas and who is teaching them, they all must be regulated. The overview of mosques and sermons, the steps to ban the Niqab were all done by the Muslims themselves before intervention of the government.
"We are doing everything possible to quell any form of extremism," he added.
Former Minister Ashroff pleaded against marginalizing of an entire community due to actions of the terrorists.
"We are still in shock as to what happened on Easter Sunday. We are still grieving. We couldn't imagine that these terrorists could come from our community... But I plead of you to not look at an entire community with hate and suspicion" she said.
Earlier this week, rioters torched Muslim-owned shops, homes and vandalized mosques in several towns as the anti-Muslim unrest spread in the aftermath of the April 21 attacks in which over 250 people were killed. The killings were claimed by the Islamic State.
Easter terror: Muslim leaders call for united Sri Lankan identity