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Work for reconciliation and religious co-existence

 A Religious Co-existence Convention organised by the National Co-existence Dialogue and Official Languages Ministry was held at the BMICH yesterday under the patronage of President Maithripala Sirisena. Mahanayake of the Amarapura Maha Nikaya Most Ven. Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thera, Lekakadhikari of the Malwatta Chapter Ven. Pahamune Sumangala Thera, Lekakadhikari of the Asgiriya Chapter Ven. Medagama Dhammananda Thera, Hindu,Christian and Islamic religious leaders and Ministers Mano Ganeshan, Sarath Fo

As leaders of the four main religions in the country convened to discuss peace, President Sirisena appealed to them to use their sermons and influence to preach reconciliation and religious co-existence to their respective congregations.

“Today, we are gathered here because deep down we know that we have a problem in this country,” said President Maithripala Sirisena addressing the Religious Coexistence Convention held at the BMICH yesterday.

The Convention sought to bring all communities together to promote peace and religious coexistence in the country.

“The ethnic and religious conflicts in this country resulted in a 30-year war. The war was ended through a military solution. Our Forces were able to defeat a separatist terrorist organisation but we have not managed to defeat the beliefs that led to it,” the President said.

“Though the idea of separatism has not been openly dealt within the country,” the President noted that this belief was very much alive in international fora.

“We all know that ideas and beliefs cannot be defeated with arms. It can only be replaced with a better, more positive belief”, he added.

In order to accomplish this, he stressed on the need to have dialogue and conventions such as these. An educated society, will be able to choose the right path and the more positive option through debate and discussion, believed the President.

“I strongly believe that our local temples and religious institutions do not preach conflict. The religious leaders always try to direct the people in the right direction. All philosophies, be it Buddhism, Islam, Hinduism and Christianity, strive try to correct society”, he said.

But we now lack religious co-existence in our society and thus we need to address it, he added.

“The main reasons why we have this situation is suspicion and fear created between various religious and ethnic groups”.

The President stressed that the government was committed to promote religious coexistence. All societies, he said have extremists in their midst- but this is a minority.

“The vision and direction of religious leaders is very important to us in at this juncture. They can calm society, bring in peace and direct them in the right path”.

“We are seeking the advice of religious leaders in our development path,” said President Sirisena further.

“The Government has formed national religious co-existence organisations to deal with local conflicts. At the district level, these organizations will function under the leadership of the District Secretariat and bring together people of all religious and ethnic groups to resolve issues which arise at the local level. This would also be extended to smaller groups being formed under the divisional secretariat level,” the President said.

The President was happy to note that whilst some would ridicule the idea of reconciliation, the majority of people in the country today were aware of what reconciliation and co-existence is.

“I am positive about our future, and let us all fulfil our duty, let us all commit to this,” said the President.

“It is then that we can achieve; real and long lasting peace, where there will be no more war”.