The reaction of the UK government to a controversy surrounding traces of pork DNA being found in halal products is instructive. Following the discovery of horse meat in beef burgers, testing was done on a variety of meat products, wherein traces of pork DNA were found in halal food served in prisons.
The reaction from the UK government was swift: the supplier was suspended and investigations launched simultaneously by the Prison Service and the local authority. The Food Standards Agency, which is responsible for food safety and food hygiene across the UK, called an urgent meeting of major retailers and suppliers on Monday, to ensure that everyone is fully aware of their responsibilities.
"It is the responsibility of food businesses to ensure the food they sell contains what it says on the label. We are considering, with relevant local authorities, whether legal action is appropriate following the investigation."
The Prison Reform Trust said it welcomed the immediate apology and investigation. Its director Juliet Lyon said: "This is not a matter of dietary preference but of Islamic law.
"There are clear hospital and prison rules that halal meat must be on the menu."
"This lapse will have offended and distressed high numbers of Muslim prisoners and their families so apologising, suspending the supplier and investigating the incident are the right steps for the Ministry of Justice to take." (from The Guardian)
Back in the Paradise Isle, the President instructs the Secretary to the Ministry of information and Mass Media "to take immediate action against those electronic and print medias, which spew venom against the Muslims."
What? Is the media the problem? It is the organisations behind the campaign, the very organisations that met the President that need to be brought to heel, not the media.
The President asked the organisations not to engage in activities seen to be promoting communal hatred and said that people should be mindful of attempts to tarnish the image of the country.
Mindful of attempts to tarnish the image of the country? Really? A more wishy-washy, watered down statement could not be imagined, worthy of Ranil Wickremasinghe, who for his part has remained deafeningly silent on the matter. No condemnation, apology or even a firm statement and nothing, beyond a vague promise to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee (which a long-drawn out, time consuming thing), of any action.
What a contrast to that of the UK Government which regards its Muslim community which has existed only for around fifty years as equal citizens.
To come back to my question, what should citizens do? There does not seem to be much, but on the eve of independence day, perhaps we should make it a point to go out of our way to patronise Muslim owned shops.
I've never shopped at No Limit, I never even realised it was Muslim-owned, I don't really need to shop for clothes either but I will drop in and buy something. Even if its only a pair of socks, a point needs to be made.