Faced with stiff opposition by hardline Buddhist majority groups, a Sri Lankan Muslim group, which has been issuing the Halal certificates to businesses, has said it would now withdraw the practise.
“We are giving up what is very important to Muslims. We are making a sacrifice in the interest of peace and ethnic harmony,” Rizwe Mufthi of the ACJU said.
The Buddhist extremist Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Force) has been running a vocal protest campaign to force the end to Halal certification. Their main grouse was that non-Muslims are being forced to consume Halal certified products.
Mufthi said that consumer products in the super market shelves would no longer carry the Halal certification.
As an immediate reaction to BBS campaign, the ACJU had last month said that Halal products would only be offered to Muslims, which was dismissed out of hand by the BBS.
Lanka’s leading trade chamber, the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce, said it was impractical to have Halal and non-Halal products from the same item.
Responding to another criticism that the Muslim scholars of ACJU were making money out of Halal certification, the body said the certificates from now on would be issued free of charge to those who cater to export orders.
Sensing racial tensions between the majority Sinhalese and the nine per cent Muslim minority over the issue, President Mahinda Rajapaksa appointed a special ministerial committee to recommend ways to nip it in the bud.