Political and religious pressure being directed at Sri Lanka’s Muslim community must be stopped, the Delegation of the European Union and embassies of eight European countries said in a joint statement.
“We urge the President, Prime Minister, and all political leaders to reassert the state’s commitment to mutual respect, tolerance, and equal treatment under the law for all, irrespective of faith or ethnicity,” the statement said.
“We are deeply concerned by political and religious pressure being directed at Sri Lanka’s Muslim community which is undermining peace and reconciliation in the country,” the foreign missions said.
“Prejudiced and unsubstantiated allegations repeatedly published by media serve only to fuel intolerance.”
Anti-Muslim hate has been rising among sections of the majority Sinhalese population after the Easter Sunday bombings which were carried out by Islamic radical extremists, and killed 258 persons.
One Muslim person was killed, while dozens of Muslim-owned shops and mosques were damaged in the ensuing sectarian violence.
Nationalists have urged a boycott on Muslim-owned businesses.
A Muslim woman was arrested under a hate-speech law for wearing a dress with what appeared to be a ship’s helm, which the police interpreted as the Buddhist symbol ‘Dhamma Chakka’.
The statement said that representatives from the missions met with the Prime Minister on Wednesday.
“On that occasion we welcomed the government’s commitment to address hate speech and to set up a religious reconciliation council.”
“We stand by all Sri Lankans working to preserve the peaceful coexistence between all communities, and expect religious and other community leaders to support them and speak out against violence,” the statement said.
The Delegation of the European Union (EU) issued the statement in agreement with the embassies of France, Germany, Italy, Netherlands, Romania and the UK High Commission, as well as the embassies of Norway and Switzerland.
The EU is Sri Lanka’s largest regional trading partner, absorbing 29.2 percent of exports in 2018.
Sri Lanka enjoys the GSP Plus preferential trade facility from the EU.
The country lost the GSP Plus facility in 2010 after concerns were raised over allegations of human rights abuses towards the end of a 25-year civil war.
It regained GSP Plus status in May 2018 after committing to a host of reforms on human rights and reconciliation.