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Zaharan’s mosque to become a Harmony Centre

The Mosque in Kattankudy where National Towheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Cassim breathed fire to his followers is to become a Harmony Centre where people from different religions and communities can come together

The shuttered mosque built and used by Zaharan Cassim leader of the NTJ/Pathum Dhananjana RepublicNext

The Mosque in Kattankudy where National Towheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim once exhorted his followers to kill non-Muslims is to become a Harmony Centre where people from different religions can come together.

Secretary of the Kattankudy Mosque Federation, Abdul Latif Mohamed Sabeel told RepublicNext “the government has handed over the mosque to the Federation and we want to turn it into a Harmony Centre where people from different religions and communities can meet.”

The ultra-modern building that does not look like a traditional Islamic place of worship has been shuttered since Zaharan went on the run after Police looked to arrest him last year.

The mosque is situated near Kattankudy’s beach promenade.

After the Easter bombings in April, which were carried out by NTJ suicide cadres, the government seized the property and it is being guarded by Soldiers and Civil Defense Service personnel.

Police say that their investigations have revealed that Zaharan received funds from overseas for the construction of this mosque and probably several others.

Zaharan, is a native of Kattankudy, a town reputed to be one of the most densely populated in South Asia where the population is almost totally Muslim.

Described as a skilled orator, Zaharan, attracted several thousands of worshippers for his Friday sermons, although the NTJ, according to police, had a membership of only around 150 people.

Zaharan, who died in the bombing of the Shangrila Hotel in Colombo on Easter Sunday, preached a Wahabist ideology that is an extreme form of the faith followed by the terrorist Islamic State.

In 2013, Zaharan turned his ire towards the Sufi Muslims whom he declared un-Islamic. He advocated violence against the Sufis.

By 2016 he was preaching against all other religions and urged his followers to turn Sri Lanka into a Muslim country by killing non-Muslims.