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Sri Lankan national anthem in Tamil causes backlash

Sri Lankan parliamentarians have protested against reports that the Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena has allowed the country's national anthem to be sung in Tamil.

“We are totally against this measure,” said Sri Lanka Freedom Party parliamentarian Sarath Weerasekara. “It is illegal and the betrayal of our race.”

The former Sri Lankan navy commander who is a now a member of parliament went on to say, "this is nothing but a betrayal... A decision to please just a 2 million (Tamil) population." Mr Weerasekara further added that a referendum must be held before any decision can be made to allow the Tamil version of the anthem to be sung. "It is clear in our Constitution that the national anthem must be sung only in the state language," he said.

SLFP spokesperson Dilan Perera said the Mr Weerasekara's views were not representative of the party, stating it was his “personal view”. 

However, Mr Weerasekara was joined by the National Freedom Front, a party in the country's ruling alliance, in objecting to the anthem being sung in Tamil after the party also voiced its concern.

Buddhist organisation Bodu Bala Sena also said it was against the anthem being sung in Tamil with the leader of the group Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara saying on the Sinhalese version of the song was constitutional. “Any other version will be unconstitutional,” he said. “If any change has to be brought about, there has to be a referendum.”

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