BBS Continues Agitation Against Halal Certification
- President’s Committee Yet To Finalize Report
By Nirmala Kannangara
Despite last week’s statement by the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) that it was prepared to stop issuing halal certificates, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) claims it would continue to agitate against the issuing of halal certified items to the market.
Executive Committee Member BBS Organization Dilantha Withanage, claims they are not worried whether the Sri Lankan Government takes the responsibility of issuing Halal Certification or not as long as a majority of Buddhists have been educated about the controversy.
Speaking on the halal issue, Withanage said the organization would continue to educate the masses how to disregard the products that carry the halal certification and added that it is the sole responsibility of the government to look into the legality of the halal certification.
“If the mosque wants the Muslims to use products that carry only the halal certification, let them follow the mosque guidelines. But our question is why is this introduced to each and every item that is available in the country?” queried Withanage.
Withanage further observed that several business organizations had informed them that they too had to get the halal certification to increase their business as the ACJU had informed them that if the certification is not displayed on their products, Muslims would abstain from buying those products.
“After the BBS organization initiated the agitation against this halal certification last November, these business organizations have realized what the consequences would be if the majority Sinhalese refused to buy such products. We are now told by most of these organizations that they will take out this certification from their products, which will take some time. We know that they cannot take out this certification at once as they may have printed their packing with the halal logo. However, they will follow our requests in the near future,” Withanage said.
He accused ACJU of surreptitiously introducing the halal certification.
“Without introducing this certification secretly why couldn’t they inform the general public through the media? Just because they have a hidden agenda they did so and took money from other religions towards the ACJU organization. One chicken manufacturing company, which I do not want to highlight, told me that their company had to pay over Rs four lakhs for the annual halal certification. This differs from one organization to another. Halal certification is more expensive than the SLS standard certification,” alleged Withanage.
Meanwhile, President, Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, N. M. Ameen said the ACJU is waiting for the report by the committee appointed by President Mahinda Rajapaksa, to address this issue.
He noted that the response was likely to be very positive.
President Rajapaksa appointed a committee headed by former Prime Minister, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake, and comprising many other party leaders two weeks ago to come up with suggestions that would not harm any party.
“This committee met the ACJU as well as the BBS and several businessmen. We are waiting for the outcome,” Ameen said.
According to Ameen, many business organizations have incurred heavy losses over the past two months of this year for not buying the halal certification due to the agitation of the BBS.
“One company said they lost Rs1.5 million in business during the first two months as they had been unable to send their products to Middle Eastern countries. Some said they have had to shut down their businesses owing to the same reason,” Ameen said.
Asked whether obtaining halal certification is very expensive, Ameen said that unless it is a large business, their certification cost only Rs.9, 000.
“For the SLS certification it cost around 1.5 million and for the ISO the same amount as the SLS. It is nothing for them to take the halal certification and get their sales increased incredibly. Anyway, we are waiting to see what the outcome of this committee would be,” Ameen said.