It is the pearl of the Indian ocean, the island situated off the southern tip of India, which has a wide span of history for more than 3000 years, it is Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka has attracted visitors for centuries with its natural beauty and heritages places. Sri Lanka consisted of several ethnic groups, mainly Sinhalese, Sri Lankan Moors (Muslims), Tamils and other (Eg: Christianity, Sri Lankan Malays, & so on). Ethnic groups and their total population are mentioned below,Sinhalese: 74.9%, Sri Lankan Moors (Muslims): 9.2%, Indian Tamil: 4.2%, Sri Lankan Tamil: 11.2%, Burgher: 0.2%, Malays: 0.2% & other: 0.1% (Census 2012 Provisional results based on a 5 % sample). Apart from the ethnicity Sri Lankan population has been distinguished by religion as well. The population percentage of religions are as follows,
Buddhist (official) 70.2%, Islam 9.7%, Hindu 12.6%, Roman Catholic 6.1%, Other Christian 1.3% (Census 2012 Provisional results based on a 5 % sample).
The estimated total population is 21,675,648 (July 2013 EST.) But it has been marked by a long and bitter civil war arising out of ethnic tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the Tamil minority in the northeast. After more than 30 years of violence the conflict ended in May 2009, when the Sri Lankan military captured the last area held by LTTE (Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam) rebels. After this civil war, all the ethnic groups and religions started to smell peace all over Sri Lanka. Seems like this wind of peace has not been blessed for Sri Lankans for a long time.
Suddenly ethnic tensions have been arisen due to anti-Muslim campaigns by an extremist Buddhist group called Bodu Bala Sena (BBS). Bodu Bala Sena literally means Buddhist Power Force which has intended to be formed in order to protect the Buddhist nation. They have initiated their anti-Muslim campaign in the halal certification process by the All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama (ACJU).
Halal certificates are issued by All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), a body representing Muslim clergymen, after a thorough investigation of the production process of the companies registered under them, in order for Muslim consumers to separate the permissible products in the marketplace. The need for halal certification has been realized immensely when a famous supermarket has sold pork named as Halal for Muslims. Therefore Muslim theologians and businessman sat for discussion and brought up an idea of issuing halal certification under the supervision of ACJU in order to make the people aware about the halal products and differentiate them from the non-halal foods. The issuance of this certificate of halal became a problem and the core reason for the ethnic conflict between the two parties ACJU and BBS in Sri Lanka.
1.3 Problem Statement
The BBS has posed many complains to ACJU in this halal issuance process. Their main arguments against the halal issuance are,
1) ACJU forcing companies to get the halal certification and sell their products with halal logo.
2) ACJU gets a large sum of money from this halal. BBS states in a press conference that ACJU gets 1,75000 LKR from each product and now the Halal certified products had reached 4000 now. Hence ACJU receives a large sum of money through this business (4000* 1, 75000). As a consequence the prices of the product rise.
3) ACJU gives these money to terrorist organizations in order to divide the nation and create protesterial situations.
With a strong ‘no’ for these statements ACJU argues the real process for Halal certification and the transparency it has in the process. ACJU strongly disagree that they never forced any companies to gain halal certification. ACJU has set a very small amount of money for this halal process and it denies that it has never contributed to any terrorist groups with the profit they gained from the Halal division.
1.4 Argument and Citation
Argument 1- Denying the force impose of halal certification on companies to get halal
ACJU strongly disagrees the statement of BBS that they are forcing the companies to get certified their products with the halal certificate and to sell it with the halal logo. Halal certification is clearly defined and explained in the website of ACJU (i.e. www.acju.lk). If any company wants the halal certification for its products, it will contact the ACJU head office and gets an application form and an SOP (Standard Operational Procedure). SOP consists of Do’s and Don’ts for a producer to be followed in order to involve in halal process. The company agrees upon the SOP will fill up the application and send it to the ACJU head office. Then a team from ACJU will audit the company or the factory, and it will look for the ingredients that has been used during manufacture and so on. Then if it is happening to find a non halal ingredient then ACJU crew will give them an alternative for that element. Even here ACJU never forces them to change but if the company agrees then ACJU will not hesitate to grant them halal certification. Hence the argument of BBS is baseless and has no truth behind.
Argument 2- Big amount of service charge in not imposed on the companies to get the halal
ACJU has a transparency and a service policy for charging for the Halal issuance. Until 2010, 145 organizations have this Halal certification for over 4000 products. ACJU divided the business place into three categories to offer Halal for products. The service charge also depends on the number of products a company has. For instance, ACJU gets 500 LKR from each product per month. So if a company has one product then it must pay 6000LKR yearly. If a company has four products then it must pay 4* 500 LKR per month and 24000 LKR yearly. If a company has more than 100 products then it must pay 25000 LKR per month. Hence from 4000 products ACJU receives approximately 1500000 LKR per month and its expenditures are 1300000 LKR per month (ACJU, 2012). If we analyze more, around 10 cents (LKR) to be spent for each product. This amount is extremely small and cannot be considered in product cost. If we cannot consider in product cost then it will not have any impact on the price. The overall amount ACJU charges for two different sectors, Abattoir sector and product sector has been seized in the appendix.
Argument 3- Denial of the funding for terrorist organizations.
As explained in the previous argument ACJU has 1300000LKR of expenditures monthly hence it receives a merely 200000LKR. If we calculate in dollars it’s approximately 1589.83 USD. Does it make sense that this measure can be charged as a donation to terrorist organizations. ACJU has the audit reports of all years and they are open anytime to obtain all the crime divisions to audit their firm and find the movement of the money within their institution. If anyone wants to accuse for such an act then it should be the government, not unofficial organizations. But ACJU have never received any complaints from the government yet.
As the refutations clearly state that the BBS’s arguments are baseless and are against the fact, we must look at what the actual objective of the BBS is. These anti-Muslim movements are found all over the island under the rubric of protecting Buddhism and Sinhalese race in the nation. There is no harm if a certain ethnic group works for its own benefit and own growth. When that particular ethnic group interferes with the welfare of other ethnicities that is the root for another civil war. Sri Lanka has seen bloodshed for more than 20 years and become economically down. If there is another civil war, this humble little island may have to wait for another century to pose in the developed countries list.
Such extremist organizations should be banned in the country, and whoever tries to create ethnic tensions must be punished without second consideration. More significantly government should not remain silent on this matter, or should not play a double faced game. Government should react immediately to keep a full stop to this tense situation. And so we can taste the peace in this tiny island forever.
1) Halal certification process (2012). Retrieved from http://www.halaal.acju.net/content/halaal-certification-process
2) CIA The world fact book ( n.d.) Retrieved from https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/ce.html
3) All ceylon jammiyyathul ulama (n.d) Retrieved from http://www.acju.lk/.
4) Bodu bala sena (2012). Retrieved from http://bodubalasena.org/sinhala/
5) Bodu bala sena( n.d). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodu_Bala_Sena