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Former UK Prime Minister urges protection of religious minorities from Sri Lankan state

Former British Prime Minister, Tony Blair, writing in the UK Guardian on Friday, urged the world to protect the religious freedoms of minorities in Sri Lanka, including Hindus, from religious extremism by the Sri Lankan state.

Integral to the Sri Lankan constitution is the state's responsibility to 'protect and foster' Buddhism.

Extracts from Blair's article:

"It is not only the acts of terror that should alarm us. It is the extremism that promotes persecution of religious minorities, too.

"The challenge is that much greater where human dignity is not respected and freedom of religion denied. This results in a general oppression of people of faith.

"It means we must support Muslims in Gujarat, India; non-Orthodox Christians in Moldova; Bahai's in Iran; Ahmadis in Pakistan; all Christians in north Africa; Hindus in Sri Lanka; Shia in several Sunni majority countries, and other places.

"The essence of democracy is that it is pluralistic. It is inherently secular, even if rooted in cultures that are profoundly religious. This is where democracy-friendly religion really means something very important in the way society is governed.

"It is about free media; freedom of expression; and about freedom of religion. It is also about an independent judiciary and the rule of law and even about free markets albeit with appropriate government intervention and regulation."

See related articles:

Sinhala Buddhist monks attack Japanese Buddhist temple (Oct 2011)

Monks destroy Muslim shrine as police stand idle (Sept 2011)

Rajapakse defiant against "alien cultures" (Sept 2011)

A new (cultural) campaign in Vanni (June 2010)