Rasika Somarathna, in the Daily News, 12 March 2013
The All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) which has been issuing the Halal certification to businesses, said yesterday it decided to withdraw the Halal logo from all local products. However, companies may continue to obtain the Halal certification for their products on a voluntary basis to facilitate exports etc, and such certifiction will be issued free of charge by the ACJU, according to the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce (CCC).Several leading Buddhist monks, ACJU leaders and industry representatives joined in announcing the Halal logo withdrawal from local products at a press conference organised by the CCC, at Hotel Cinnamon Grand. The CCC said they managed to work out a consensus on the Halal certification issue, following wide ranging consultations with all stakeholders including members of the Maha Sangha, ACJU and industry representatives.
Ven Prof Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera while welcoming the move said the Halal logo withdrawal does not mean that one party has won and the other has lost, but it was a win-win situation for all parties concerned. The thera addressing the joint media briefing said as Buddhist monks, they were glad the issue was brought to light and added that they were also glad that in the end the issue was resolved amicably. While acknowledging it was a right of Muslims to consume Halal food, the thera however said it was the view of a majority that inclusion of the Halal logo in all food products was not fair by others.
Ven Prof Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera said the Halal issue was not something which was threatening religious amity although some parties had tried to blow it out of proportion. He said although Sri Lanka is a pre – dominantly Buddhist country, there was full freedom to practice other religions. The thera said the issue had been sorted out following discussions with ACJU leaders and other stakeholders. The thera also thanked the ACJU for withdrawing the Halal logo from local products.
Addressing the joint media briefing ACJU president mufti M I M Rizvi said the Halal certification was issued as a service to the Muslims and ACJU had no intention of forcing it on all consumers. He said the inclusion of the logo had caused tension between some parties and the ACJU after consulting all stake holders had decided to withdraw it from local products. “Let us forget and forgive whatever has happened in the past and join hands for progress and unity,” he said.
According to CCC officials, special outlets in Sri Lanka catering to foreigners may sell products carrying the Halal logo at such outlets if they wish. Also until all finished products displaying the Halal logo are exhausted, the market will have such products. Manufacturers will begin the process of changing packaging immediately.
NOTE: Harihara is the name of a combined deity form of both Vishnu (Hari) and Shiva (Hara) from the Hindu tradition. Also known as Shankaranarayana (“Shankara” is Shiva, and “Narayana” is Vishnu), Harihara is thus worshipped by both Vaishnavites and Shaivities as a form of the Supreme God, as well as being a figure of worship for other Hindu traditions in general. Harihara is also sometimes used as a philosophical term to denote the unity of Vishnu and Shiva as different aspects of the same Supreme God. The exact nature of both Vishnu and Shiva (from their associated stories in Vedic and Puranic scriptures), and their position of difference or unity (or both), is a subject of some debate amongst the different philosophical schools.