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Friday, May 24, 2024

Is Sri Lanka heading towards another July ’83?

JHU demo against Muslims

By Latheef Farook
Is Sri Lanka heading towards another July 1983 type pogrom? This is the growing fear in view of the repeated threats on mosques and madrasas provoking Muslims. In the midst of this turbulence, the Criminal Investigation Department’s call for a list of mosques and madrasas – no information on worshipping centers of other religions was sought — has sent shockwaves among beleaguered Muslims.

Desecration of mosques is an act of provocation. Yet, Muslims have maintained remarkable restraint in the face of vandalism in Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Kurunegala and now in Colombo and Dehiwala.
As we all know Muslims worldwide are sacrificing their lives to preserve their religious rights and dignity from the vicious global campaign unleashed jointly by the Zionists, rightwing Evangelicals and India’s Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh under the guise of fighting the so-called war on terrorism.

Under such circumstances, if these provocations continue some infuriated Muslims may inevitably respond and create a potentially dangerous situation with unpredictable consequences. Certainly any sensible person would realize that Sri Lanka cannot afford such a disaster especially after the 30-year ethnic carnage.

Since the LTTE’s military defeat in May 2009, a sinister campaign demonising Islam and Muslims has been underway poisoning the minds of the majority community. Muslims suspect that ultranationalists who managed to get into influential positions in the government, perhaps, backed by Israel which managed to sneak into the country, have been behind this campaign which has all the ingredients to tear apart the country. In fact hatred towards Muslims has been the only binding factor between ultranationalists and the Zionist racists.

It all started with an internet campaign involving eight Sinhala and ten English language websites, portraying Sri Lanka’s Muslim community as a threat to Sinhalese, Buddhism and the country. They raised controversy over Daftar Jailani at Kuragala, a village 15 miles off Balangoda, claiming it was a historic place of the Buddhists.

They also started publishing articles and books inciting the Sinhalese against the Muslims. Hand in hand there began a campaign against cattle slaughter to rouse anti-Muslim hysteria.

It is common knowledge that these elements who, openly demand that the Tamils should be sent to Tamil Nadu and the Muslims to Saudi Arabia, often said that they would first deal with the Tamils and then take care of the Muslims. Now that the Tamils are weakened following the LTTE defeat, it appears they are turning their guns on the Muslims!

On June 14 last year, mobs led by Buddhist monks attacked the more than four-centuries-old shrine of Sheikh Sikkandar Waliullah in Anuradhapura under the watchful eyes of the police. Later mobs led by a monk, tried to destroy the Dambulla mosque on Friday April 20 this year in violation of all laws of the country.

Encouraged by the Government’s inaction to deal with the lawbreakers, a mob entered a mosque off Bullers Road in Colombo and warned the people there not to canduct prayers. A similar incident had taken place in a mosque at Ariyawatta in Kurunegala. Yet another mosque near the Dehiwala zoo came under threat from a mob led by monks on May 25.

Widespread feeling among the Muslims is that the Government’s has failed to bring perpetrators to book, Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne’s order to shift the Dambulla mosque, decision taken by Sinhala government officials without Muslim participation to postpone a decision on the issue for six months and now the CID’s calls for a list of mosques and madrasas indicate the Government’s patronage to mobs and its indifference towards the rights of Muslims.

Now comes the report that the Government is preparing to present regulations to apply sanctions on individuals and entities associated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban. The question is where does one find individuals associated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban in Sri Lanka? Isn’t this the global Zionist agenda implemented by the US and Europe?

The country is passing through one of its most difficult times since independence. There are numerous burning issues, both local and international, to be dealt with. The West in general has been hostile towards Sri Lanka since the defeat of the Tamil Tigers in May 2009. Muslim countries on the other hand are the only friends of Sri Lanka as proved time and again and even during the final stage of the war against LTTE.

Muslim countries remain sources of employment to almost a million Sri Lankans besides having friendly relations with the island. Only a week ago the Saudi Arabian government signed an agreement to set up a US$ 40 million nurses training centre in Sri Lanka. Under such circumstances, who wants to antagonise Sri Lanka’s Muslims and thereby antagonise the Muslim world? Do the mobs realise that we are not living in medieval era isolation but in a globalised modern world as part of the world community?
After 30 years of ethnic killings this is the time to bring communities together to take the country forward. Instead of concentrating on these issues, the ultranationalists started putting forward monks to lead attacks on mosques where one only finds Holy Quran and books on Islam. Don’t they realise that they are bringing disrepute to their own community which they claim to protect?

Instead of attacking mosques why cannot they campaign against the rising crime rate, corruption, lawlessness, liquor trade, casinos, prostitution, massage parlours and the likes to clean up society?
The unanswered questions are who are these vandals? From where did they emerge? Who is financing their websites and all other expenses involved in gathering, transporting and feeding the mob to attack mosques?

However, the mainstream Sinhalese people including politicians, journalists and Buddhist monks have distanced themselves from this campaign.

Sri Lanka was a shining example for the entire developing world, during independence in 1948, for its political, economic and social stability and ethnic unity with an enviable intellectual community known for its honesty and integrity. Where are we today? How did this happen?

Politicians of all shades of opinions, before and after independence, exploited racism to either retain or gain power. They flourished on promoting chauvinism. They created the ethnic conflict and flourished in it while the innocent people sacrificed their precious lives.

Unfortunately, the country is yet to see a statesman who could bring communities together and take the country to “truly a paradise which it is”.

Isn’t it time the mainstream in the majority community reassess racist politics? This is the need of the time because the Sinhalese, the Tamils, the Muslims and others should co-exist as long as this island remains on this planet.



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