Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Whole country a Peace Zone after Northern liberation - President

President Mahinda Rajapaksa asserts that his Government would seek to establish 'Peace Zones' not only in the precincts of sacred sites, but also in the whole country.

President Rajapaksa made this assertion when he presided and addressed the ceremony at which financial aid amounting to Rupees five million was symbolically handed over to religious dignitaries of 42 Temples, Kovils, Churches and Mosques, at the Presidential Secretariat yesterday(June 23).

"Every citizen of this land should have the freedom and the liberty to enjoy the right of religious worship, as per his conscience. The terrorists grabbed this right from the people.

However, we are a Government which is fully committed and prepared to make sacrifices and be committed to protect all faiths and their associated sites of worship," he said.

He pointed out that when the North is also liberated, the whole country would be a 'Peace Zone', and the 'Sacred Sites' would become 'Peace Zones' within it. "We are obliged to protect our religious devotion which we have sustained over the years," he added.

The President pointed out that the various religious units and ministries which were scattered in the past, were brought under one ministry, with the objective of integrating all religious affairs under one management and authority and averting conflicts of any nature.

"We need integration of our society and not division or differentiation. We formulated diverse programmes such as 'Mathata Thitha' with the objective of protecting our society. This project to develop our sacred sites would undoubtedly serve to achieve this objective," he said.

President Rajapaksa said that despite the war, his Government had not abandoned any mega development projects in the country, be it the expressways or the Norochcholai Coal Power project or any other. "We will not abandon the development of the religious sacred sites too," he added.

He was of the view that as a Buddhist, he learnt how to respect all communities and faiths, and was eager to protect all places of religious worship. He derived much happiness in doing so, he said. Sacred Sites Development Minister Dinesh Goonewardena and his secretary P. Ramajugan also expressed their sentiments at the ceremony.

Courtesy: Daily News

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