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Sri Lanka's ambassador to Kuwait defends celebrations

Image Credit: Courtesy of Al Anba
The ambassador, seeking to end the deadlock peacefully, urged his compatriots to cancel the celebrations while the police said that the Sri Lankans had all the necessary permits and did not break the law.

Manama: Sri Lanka's ambassador to Kuwait said that the new year celebrations by his community last Friday disrupted by hardliners did not include hard liquor, drinks, dances, a graffiti on a car or the election of a beauty queen.

"We have held festivals and celebrations for 26 years, and we have never had any violations," K.S.C. Dissanayake said.

"The celebrations by the community on Friday were going on smoothly, peacefully and within the confines of the law. Regretfully, people outside were fed the wrong information," he was quoted as saying by Al Rai newspaper.

The day-long celebrations on Friday came to an abrupt end in the afternoon when a group of Kuwaitis invaded the field of Al Jahra Stadium, 32 kilometres north-west of Kuwait City, to demand that the Sri Lankans leave the premises for breaking Islamic rules.

The hardliners said that men and women were mixing at the celebrations and that they were drinking and playing music even though it was a Friday.

Negotiations between the angry protestors who threatened to escalate the situation and the organizers lasted more than 30 minutes, but failed to end the deadlock, prompting the ambassador to urge the thousands of Sri Lankans to leave the stadium.

The police said that the organizers had all the required papers to hold the celebrations.

"There are around 110,000 Sri Lankans in Kuwait, with 15,000 living in Al Jahra. We thought that we could share the celebrations," Dissanayake said. "We had the valid authorizations to hold our festivities which were peaceful and did not record any violations."

All participants were duly searched before being allowed to enter the stadium, organizers said.

"Our community has been in Kuwait for more than 50 years, and everybody says that we are a peaceful people who do not cause problems. The community was simply engaged in celebrating the new year and enjoying Sri Lankan food," the ambassador said.