4 April, 2020

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A Journey Of Secularism In Bangladesh – A Lesson For Sri Lanka

By A.B.P. Jayawardena

Dr A.B.P. Jayawardena

As Bangladesh celebrates more than half a century of independence after a cruel war in 1971 lasting 9 months in which an approximate 3 million died, due to bitter ethnic confrontation between the Urdu speaking Punjabis of West Pakistan and the Bengali people of East Pakistan, both whom are of the Islamic faith, Sri Lankans can learn from their history.

This is a country that has undergone far more cruel conflict than Sri Lanka. The flashpoint occurred when Prime Minister Mujibur Rahman won the majority of seats in the national parliamentary election and put forward several demands including that Bengali language should be the national language of East Pakistan. This was not agreeable to the Punjabis who started a campaign of terror. A campaign termed as Operation Searchlight hunted down the Bengali intelligentsia. Then army units were stationed all over East Pakistan. Even at my Alumini – the Agricultural University; The University Officers Training Volunteer Co. was in charge of a Punjabi. 

I was told that the hegemonic grip that West Pakistan maintained on East Pakistan was very humiliating to the Bengalis. e.g. Bamboos when grew freely were shipped all the way to the West via Colombo for manufacturing of newsprint and newspapers sent back to East without providing the technology and inputs to do so on the spot. The Bengalis have been historically, a proud people and are specially proud of their language which is renowned throughout the world, having as their spiritual guru, the famous Bengali Poet Rabindranath Tagore who was awarded the Nobel Prize. They did not relish humiliation being practiced on their people. The resultant liberation struggle established the Peoples Republic of Bangladesh.    

Although the major religion in Bangladesh is Islam, the national policy is secularism. Bangladesh was founded as a secular state but this ideal had many challenges, including when Islam was made the state religion in the 1980s. In 2010, the judiciary upheld the secular principles of the 1972 Constitution. Due to these developments, minorities in that country (Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and others) are treated with little trace of the discrimination found elsewhere in the region. This results in unity which has enabled Bangladesh to march forward economically with visibly good development indicators despite once being one of the poorest countries in the world. 

Can we in Sri Lanka say and feel that Sri Lanka belongs to people of all classes irrespective of religion and race, when one section strives to be dominant over the others?

What can Sri Lanka learn from Bangladesh? What is clear to me is that their policy of secularism has paid dividends. It is the duty of our leaders to act bravely and not bow down to extremists or they will get caught between the jaws of a “giraya”. We are heavily debt burdened but are still quarreling over who will rob the nation next. Chauvinism, extremism and racism are being used as propaganda tactics to divert the attention of citizens from the main issue which is the underperforming economy. The Sri Lankan passport is one of the worst in the world. Where is our national pride? It is swallowed up in a whirlpool of hate speech, with each one shouting more loudly than the other. One election comes after another election but what we see is the same set of rogues exchanging parliamentary seats, using ethnic and religious hatred to win votes and then behaving just the same.  

If we are not going to have secularism in Sri Lanka what other option do we have to bring about unity so that we can progress? It is a simple question. But seventy years after independence, we are still hopelessly grappling with the answer to that question. 

*The writer is a retired public servant whose years of public service in Sri Lanka were spent in the specialised policy areas of agriculture and veterinary science.  

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Latest comments

  • 14
    1

    Dear Dr Jayawardena,

    well said. See the benefits of unity. Our so-called leaders don’t see it. Same with India. We are all doomed until we give up this one upmanship.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Chinthaka,
      We don’t have leaders. We have looters since 1977. JR created this disaster. Maybe he didn’t realize what would happen when the power goes to looters and bandits. Worst looters came to power in 2005. Gentlemen like late Dr. N.M. Perera foresaw that possibility and tried their best to avoid it. This is Sri Lanka’s curse. We are worse than South Korea, Singapore, and Bangladesh. But we get awards for producing the best Housemaids (no disrespect to that lady who made an honest living). They deserve better.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Dr Jayawardana,

      “due to bitter ethnic confrontation between the Urdu speaking Punjabis of West Pakistan and the Bengali people of East Pakistan, both whom are of the Islamic faith, Sri Lankans can learn from their history.”

      Thanks for the article. It was about hegemony.
      500 years ago it was the hegemony of the Popes vs. I the kings and the secularists, free thinkers and the age of reason vs. religious dogmatism, and hegemony.

      Perennial philosophy
      Aldous Huxley argued that all religions in the world were underpinned by universal beliefs and experiences. Was he right?

      https://aeon.co/amp/essays/what-can-we-learn-from-the-perennial-philosophy-of-aldous-huxley

      ‘The reign of violence will never come to an end,’ Huxley writes, until ‘most human beings’ accept the perennial philosophy and recognise it as ‘the highest factor common to all the world religions’. The only way we can wake up from the nightmare of history is by focusing on the ‘Eternal Now’. This requires a complete overhaul of society to install a new infrastructure of contemplation: ‘a society is good to the extent that it renders contemplation possible for its members’. This looked an unlikely prospect, so Huxley withdrew to the Mojave Desert to try to become a saint.

  • 12
    1

    I salute you, Sir.

    • 3
      2

      There is plenty of violence taking place against religious minorities in Bangladesh.
      Author seems a bit out of touch – to.put it politely!

  • 15
    1

    Bangladesh has elements of a liberal culture. The Awami League is to be commended here. Mujibur Rahman was a statesman. His daughter, Hasina Wazed is equally enlightened. But the complete picture in the country is more complex. The Rohingyas have grabbed the international spotlight. No one talks of the Buddhist Chakmas driven out of the Chittagong hill tracks. The Chittagong hill tracks were 90% non-Muslim. Those demographics have now changed due to ethnic cleansing. I have commented elsewhere that the Hindu population in East Bengal prior to partition was 29%. In the first census of independent Pakistan in 1951, the Hindu population in East Bengal was 22%. That declined to 18% in the 1961 Pakistan census. In independent Bangladesh’s first census in 1974, the Hindu population had further declined to 14%. In the 2011 Bangladesh census, it had fallen to 8 %. Liberal Bangladeshi Muslim writers attribute the continuous and drastic decline to religious persecution. This was religious cleansing. So in light of the Chakma Buddhists and the Bengali Hindus, independent Bangladesh’s record is not quite stellar.

    • 3
      0

      Tissaveerasinham,
      You are raising a valid point but, it is also important to understand that the nearly all social processes of change are essentially messy and the resistant from the incumbency will always be fierce making a smooth transition practically impossible. It shouldn’t even be a surprise if the succeed. However, in the age of information & increasing economic opportunities that helps to expand the middle class, the trend of secularization will succeed eventually.

      However, Is it true that SL is moving in the opposite direction? Some truly fear for such case. Even though it superficially looks so due to the surge of racism with the support from the clergy, I think what is actually happening is something else: Clergy is increasingly moving away from their prescribed conduct & invading the secular lifestyle. The increasing demand for political power & dominance is a result of this secularization. This quite different from Muslim fundamentalism which is an attempt to re-establish Sharia laws.

      • 4
        0

        @ DP,

        You provide food for thought. Thanks

  • 8
    9

    I don’t know what the author is talking. In Bangladesh, Islam is 89.5″ Hinduism is 8.5%, Buddhism is 0.6% and Christianity is 0.4%. How can we talk about Secularism. Who is aggressively expanding. I think the author has made a very big wrong analysis.
    Search for the beginning of the use of the word SECULARISM. It began in the CHRISTIAN SOCIETY in order to separate what is religious or influenced by the god and what is not religious not influenced by the god. For example, BATHING is considered a secular act. But nowadays it is used as a monopoly in political terminology and political talks.
    Sri Lanka was becoming Christian and Muslim since and after 1505. In Sri Lanka, minority religions except Hinduism is about 18% while in Bangladesh (in former Bengal or east Pakisthan) Buddhism has almost extinct. Christianity has grown up only to 0.4%. How do you say, it is Secular. It may be it is the govt brought legislation to stop any UNITED NATIONS ACCUSATIONS.
    In sri Lanka, there is aggressive encroachment of Buddhist ancient sites (compare those Of Myanmar and Thailand) as conversion.
    Nowadays, the most common is the spread of Evangelism to covert Catholics and Buddhists.

    • 2
      0

      Dear Dr. Jayawardana,

      “Although the major religion in Bangladesh is Islam, the national policy is secularism. Bangladesh was founded as a secular state but this ideal had many challenges, including when Islam was made the state religion in the 1980s. In 2010, the judiciary upheld the secular principles of the 1972 Constitution. Due to these developments, minorities in that country (Hindus, Buddhists, Christians and others) are treated with little trace of the discrimination found elsewhere in the region. “

      Thanks for your article. It is about the hegemony of the so-called religions “leaders “, Ulama, Monks and Priests. So far, nobody has got to Heaven, or attained Nibbana or extinction, and the followers, generally referred to as brainwashed imbeciles, are all misled, as there is no independent conclusive proof regarding their beliefs and claims,

      One Monk is going after the Ulama interpretation of Islam in Sri Lanka and compared that to Pakistan.

      https://ceylontoday.lk/print-more/52541

      Who is being fooled by the ACJU? The Muslims, the Buddhists, the Christians , the Hindus, the Atheists, or the imbeciles, mean IQ 79?

      Read about Ibn Rushd , aka Averroes, and Ulama dispute 900 years ago, where Reason was downgraded and revelation raised above everything else by the Ulama.

  • 9
    0

    Dear Mr Jayawardena

    . . . . Where is our national pride? It is swallowed up in a whirlpool of hate speech, with each one shouting more loudly than the other. One election comes after another election but what we see is the same set of rogues exchanging parliamentary seats, using ethnic and religious hatred to win votes and then behaving just the same. . . . .

    I and many others in our warm and sunny island share your hurt. Immigration officers around the world eye our passport with disdain – as we carry some sort of communicable disease! Even decent people who travel are treated like pariahs due to the reputation of our politicians, slapping diplomats, and cruel officer class. Our political masters take great advantage by keeping our communities apart rather than bring them together. The outlook is hopeless; there is no national saviour in sight.

    • 5
      0

      “Immigration officers around the world eye our passport with disdain – as we carry some sort of communicable disease!”
      There is nothing wrong with the Sri lankan passport – compare it with the others!
      Thousands of bogus asylum seekers (economic migrants) are responsible for this.
      See the disdain looks of Middle Eastern Arab countries for all Sri lankans due to us depending on sending our poor people to work in these countries to earn foreign exchange!
      The causes should be addressed ……………………

      • 2
        0

        Lanka,

        “The causes should be addressed…….”

        1. Low mean IQ 79.

        2. Sinhala-only policy and The results of Sinhala-only education.

        3.Para-Sinhala Para-“Buddhism “, that is a distortion of Buddhism, and insult to the Buddha, called Buddha-Agama, prostration to the saffron clad monks, in order to maintain their hegemony, and the hatred shown by the Buddha-Agama to others, just like the Wahhabi-Salafies, who follow the Satan, per Hadith of Najd.

        4. Corruption at all levels.

        5. Lack of rule of law.

        6. Add your thoughts……,,

  • 8
    1

    Good article , although Urdu is the national/official language of Pakistan and the medium of instruction in most schools in Pakistan, it is the mother tongue of the Muhajirs the Urdu speaking immigrant population , largely from North India , who mainly settled in the Sindh province , during the partition. The Punjabi , the largest ethnic group in Pakistan ( then comes the Pashtun) still mainly speak Punjabi as their mother tongue , only the urban elite Punjabi now more or less speak Urdu. However you are correct in one way as they would have used Urdu and not Punjabi , as the language to subjugate the Bengali in former East Pakistan. Urdu ,Hi ndi , Punjabo are all very similar languages . Urdu and Hindi are in fact more or less the same language. The former has more Arabic/Persian and Turkish words written in the Persian script. The later has all these too but now has been deliberately Sanskritised by the Indian government and is written in the Sanskrit Devanagari script. Punjabi is very much older than these two languages in written in Gurmukhi script ( now largely used by the Sikhs) , whereas Punjabi is Pakistan is now being mixed with Urdu and is written in the Persian script , just like Urdu. The Hindu Punjabis, especially the ones living outside Punjab tend to speak more Hindi than Punjabi. Most of the dialogues and songs in most Hindi movies are really not in Hindu but in Urdu, as most of the script and song writers are Muslims. Urdu is also much sweeter and more poetical than Hindi. Bazaar Hindi or Urdu is more or less the same language ( like Serbo/Croat) it is common spoken Hindustani.

  • 10
    2

    Interesting article. It is a shame that our people cannot get their act together. It makes very good sense for any leader to unite the country, and make sure the minority are included, and treated the same, with no fear of being turned on by the majority by ridiculous stories , but unfortunately, religion has been weaponized, and used as a tool to win majority votes, and there is discontent and fear among the minority. If leaders want to have peace, unity, and progress, dividing the nation is not going to achieve all that. In any situation, treating the minority as outsiders will result in anger, extremism, and as we have experienced for decades, ethnic wars. Nations that have multi religious populations, that are treated the same, has been accepted, included, and made to feel they belong, have progressed, and most of all, there is peace, and prosperity.

    Shame on all our politicians for playing their dirty games.

    • 0
      6

      Does anyone in the Tamil, Muslim or other minority receive anything less than a Sinhala from the majority community!! All these minorities enjoyed privileges far more than the majority during Colonial times and it seems that they want the status quota to stay the same after 71 years. We had the JVP civil war which the government brought under control. Sri Lanka nor any nation would accept the Tamil minority to divide the nation using LTTE terrorism. The SL armed forces of the nation annihilated these morons. Sri Lankans have had no restrictions in following their own faiths and have enjoyed religious freedom. SRI LANKA IS UNITARY NATION with ONE LAW for every citizen.

  • 5
    4

    Dr. Jayasundara must understand that Bangladesh or former Bengal India must have been mostly Hindu and Buddhist. Now, it is 89.5% Muslim and only 0.6% Buddhist. It is against UN rules to eliminate major religions completely. So, Bangladesh must have such rules.
    Take Sri Lanka. You can not argue that Sinhale had 11% Muslim (see just 1400 years old religion has surpassed Christianity which is 2000 years old) and Christianity is only 8%. So, what has happened to 99% buddhists ? Should we allow more aggressive expansion and fraudulent conversion by saying secularism.
    We were accommodating others. That is why two of these religions are 20% today.
    What is your view Buddhism as society friendly in comparison to two middle eastern originated religions.

    • 1
      0

      JD,

      “Take Sri Lanka. You can not argue that Sinhale had 11% Muslim (see just 1400 years old religion has surpassed Christianity which is 2000 years old) and Christianity is only 8%. So, what has happened to 99% buddhists.”

      What religion did the people have before they were polluted, brainwashed and the hegemony was set up by the monks, Priests and the Ulama, in the Land of native Veddah Aethho?

      Not Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity or Islam. Has anybody who has been brainwashed been to heaven or to Nibbana, extinction? No, conclusive proof yet. The only prof is fossils, skeletons, if they were buried. If burned, only ashes,

      • 0
        1

        Amarasiri: stupid argument. Take out pf context and, At the beginning, there can be some Hindus and all should be Buddhists (99%). Then Christians and muslims came and now expanding.
        Jayasundara was very dishonest writing the article. He found something in his defence and screwed it up.

        • 0
          0

          JD,

          The Native Veddah Aethho were not Hindus, Buddhists etc.They worshiped their ancestors, who gave them their chromosomes.

          What did the Hindus and Buddhists do? The priests and the monks promise the illusion Nirvanna and Nibbana, no believer, has attained, just an illusion. They did mot contribute any chromosomes.

          In addition, they had to prostrate to the monks too, and ask for the blessings of the monks, Sangam Saranam Gachhami, too. What a racket and deception,

  • 3
    0

    Attention of citizensIn order to become and achieve high income country Status story highlights history step up Explorations identified significant quantities of natural gas reserves reliance with japan There are more than 5000 garment factories in Bangladesh with American companies
    Fisheries and marine fisheries had a production volume
    Professor Muhammad Yunus adopted financial principles so they poor could help themselves. Poor people escape from poverty by providing loans US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton describe him ( micro-lender ), tremendous model” for the developing world,

  • 13
    2

    Dear Dr. Jayawardena,
    What you have said about secularism is so obviously refreshing that one wonders why it has not dawned on us for 70 years? Our state is built around fostering and checking permanent enemies. It started with the trade unions in 1947 and then extended to the various minorities. Our laws have ceased to make sense. When a political party and its intellectual backers need travesties like incriminating an innocent Dr. Shafi to come to power, we expose our nakedness.
    Once we lose our sense of the law we bury our intellects. We cease to think. Quality goes out. Our universities become paper mere factories. Even having legal scholars in our midst trained in eminent foreign universities, too many of them have been content to become stooges of power, rather than empower ordinary citizens to realise their rights. The only thing we would be good at producing are khakied heroes we would have best done without, who would keep us a third rate people in a third rate country.

    • 2
      4

      Dr Hoole

      Shall we start with banning names like HELA Urumaya, TAMIL National Aliance and MUSLIM Congrres from the electoral register?

      Soma

      • 1
        0

        soma neither of either sex who’s neither here or there and who’s always in a deep coma?
        a typical lazy yak.?
        =
        The TNA and the Muslim Congress are clean political fronts and their’s no cause to be delisted.?
        =
        the helauramaya and their fellow associates especially those who are disgustingly connected with the rajapuka’s have to be first and then culled.?

        cheers, R. J.

        • 0
          0

          R.J.
          One promotes race and the other religion. How does that fit into the agenda of becoming secular.?

          Soma

    • 0
      3

      Dear Mr Hoole,
      If Sri Lanka had not produced the “Khakied heroes”, you would be the man servant of LTTE terrorist murderer Prabhakaran washing his bloody feet. Who killed all the Tamil intellectuals and leaders! Your hero Prabhakaran. It is your personal opinion that Dr Shafi is innocent let it be sorted out in the law courts as you and I are not the judge nor the jury. As a ordinary Tamil citizen did you use your right to stop LTTE terror dogs abducting Tamil children, tying cyanide capsules round their necks and forcing them into the battle front. If you are not happy staying with third rate people in a third rate country please emigrate and go wherever you want – Sri Lankans will not miss you.

      • 2
        1

        Dear Lanka,
        .
        By (roughly speaking) January 2009, it is true that it was necessary that Prabhakaran and his cohorts had to be “liquidated” – somehow. What makes you think that Prabhakaran was one of Dr Rajan Hoole’s heroes?
        .
        Quite the contrary. After Dr Rajini Thiranagama was shot in the streets of Jaffna while cycling to work, it became necessary for Dr Hoole to live unobtrusively in the South of Sri Lanka, carefully and heroically recording the facts about the War.
        .
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2bCXoD-NEY
        .
        Please look at and listen to those 12 minutes. Please try to contribute towards reconcilliation. When you interact with Dr Hoole please remember that you have the privilege of knowing one of the heroes of our time, in the twilight of his life, now quietly living in Jaffna.
        .
        Venerate one of the greatest men of our time. Don’t listen to him, or read him uncritically. There still is a formidable amount of work to be done.
        .
        Soma, why have you returned to plague us with your “clever” comments? The fact is the two major “Parties” – United National and Podu Peramuna are really dominated by Sinhala Racism. There is little to choose between that and the worst of Tamil Racism which is (mercifully) no longer alive.
        .
        Some readers may require to be given one other word of warning: there were many Hoole brothers. Two are now prominent/ famous: Dr Rajan (never became Professor because of his sojourn in the South) and Professor Jeevan Hoole (who helps Dehapriya conduct elections). Both are great and honest but very different, one from the other.
        .
        Panini Edirisinhe aka “Sinhala_Man”

        • 1
          0

          Dear Sinhala man
          Don’t you notice that those who are excited over going full secular and come out with high praise for the article are the very same people who are clamouring for the country to be divided into blocks based on race and religion.? Being proficient in the English language can you give me a word for that kind of behavior?

          Soma

          • 0
            0

            soma,
            The word you are looking for is “hypocrisy”! Some times, it could be unintentional.

    • 1
      0

      Rajan,
      Your frustration is reasonable but, don’t you realize that it has become an oft-heard cliche’ not just in cheap media talks but also in the circles of intellectuals. For example, did you listen to the discussion between Dhamma Dissanayake & Dilantha Vithange in Vithanage’s Sithamu program on the issue of University education & the role of the Gvt? I thought that, if Dhamma represents the general thinking of SL Uni system, the system is doomed b’cos I really believe that, not a single undergraduate anywhere in the world ever study without some kind of a career in mind!

      I think that SL public lost its faith in the intellectual community it had during the days of Paranavithana, Sannasgala, Sarathchandra, after failed NM policies of 1970 Gvt. Failed JVP politics made it worse. But, this changed somewhat by 2015 when the intellectual community began to join the voices of democracy & the independence of the justice system. However, the leadership to the voice came not from universities but from a Buddhist monk – Maduluwave’ Sobhitha. However, the life of this movement was very short-lived due to several factors all of which can be summed up by the term “betrayal” by all who participated -chief among them is MY 3 & Ranil.

      I believe that it is the failure of 2015 movement that gave life to the fake intellectual organizations such as Viyath Maga & Eliya. There is no any other way to explain a surge of an intellectual movement that put forward conflicting themes of racism & the so-called “neo-liberal economics”. However, the overall success of Viyath Maga has nothing to do with the theory, I believe; rather, it was to do with voters’ desperate desire for a change due to apparent lack of coherence within the Gvt.

      • 1
        0

        Cont….
        I think that Viyath Maga is already dead; Gvt is struggling to move forward on its path. Key figures of the movement either went back to Uni jobs or fighting to win nominations in the parliamentary election. One of them is no other than Dr Sarath Weerabandara ( Kurunegal hospital) who helped to instigate Dr Shafi saga. Once they are uncovered for standing behind GoRa’s efforts to shut down cases like “Mig Gate” & “the Airbus Gate”, their “intellectual virginity” will be blown out in the same way 2015 movent went down.

        No intellectual movement that aims to educate the general public can survive once they continue to back the political leaders exposed for unethical behavior. Dambara Amila should have abandoned Ranil right after the Bond Scam came out; Charitha Herath must abandon GoRa for his efforts to interfere with CID to save his own skin. Also, people like Dhamma Dissanayake must understand that Gvt has a contract with the public defined as “for the people, by the people, of the people”. He also must understand that “knowledge is not just for the sake of knowledge; and that knowledge can become a “moon in the jungle” if it does not meet Aristotle’s “final cause”!

        • 0
          0

          Thanks D.P.
          That was informative and thought-provoking. My starting point was much simpler. I think an education system that teaches students to master Euclid, as Plato believed, serves us well. We seem to have lost that and are ready to put up with mediocrity in all aspects of life. Much of it is no doubt political. We have lived to see University life become notably corrupt. Where does reason stand in our academic culture?

          • 2
            0

            Rajan,
            Thanks.
            About University life becoming corrupt, I would say that it is an inevitable outcome of spreading corruption deep into the whole SL social system. Dhamma Dissanayake refused to accept that there are “loyalty groups” in the teaching staff of SL Universities but that is not true. Forming loyalty groups is a human nature. In the intellectual community, the softer version of grouping is referred to as “school of thoughts” which usually are highly instrumental in supporting heated debates which in turn help expand knowledge. But there is also a “hard version” which includes a few close friends of extremely “territorial”. I strongly believe that this hard version is dominant in SL universities. I think that they stand as one of the major impediments to progress of knowledge.

            I don’t believe that Plato’s philosophy is a good model for modern education. It may be OK for religions which believe that everything is minor deviations from the ideal but, since Darwin, science is working on the assumption that variation is the fundamental nature of Universe. Euclidean world is also Platonic. However, one thing is certain: A deep knowledge in philosophy of science is almost nonexistent within SL intellectual community. A lack of interest in this field is hurting our education big time. This may be the one of the big reason why Uni dons fail to grip with relationship between the education & economic/social progress.

            By the way, didn’t Plato live a nearly a century before Euclid?

  • 3
    6

    in 1956 when Ceylon thanks to the racist swabasha idiots began to drive itself in reverse gear down and down the pallans Bangladesh was not conceived.
    =
    then in 1971, the battle began for separation from the corrupt infidel Pakistanis became a reality.?
    =
    today this babe of an island is miles ahead of it’s long distanced sad shitty sorry Sri Lanka has an economy which is booming beyond one’s wildest imagination.?
    =
    if not for the Muslims who are allowed by their religious beliefs are allowed to have many a wife and many a concubine or little houses are the mistresses are well-known as.?
    they do not believe in the arts of family planning and as most of them are stricken by poverty have no social lives have to continue unabated many an act of fornication after fornication.?
    =
    they too have an apparel trade where many Lankan garment makers have been forced to set up shop due to it’s much talked of proven low costs of production, great quality and low wages.
    =
    even in other products, this nation is miles ahead of Sri Lanka.
    =
    sad, shittiest sorry Sri Lanka has to do a copy cat if they do not sink themselves deeper and deeper into the bog in the cesspit.?
    =
    cheerless, R. J.

  • 6
    2

    These words of wisdom from ABPJ are important in the present state of affairs – when uniformed practitioners of one religion are intolerant of all others.
    The videos of one of them slapping a man of another religion and getting away with it, in the presence of law enforcers is chilling.
    Even India is mostly secular.

  • 5
    1

    Dr J., Your article hits the nail on the head, unfortunately the ordinary mass doesn’t realise this and are fed with hatred and paranoia by certain media and politicians with vested interest, which is further dividing the country and with it any progress

    The proof of the pudding is that the country is going backward for the 50 years without any signs of light at the end of the tunnel

  • 4
    0

    This article prompted me to request knowledgeable friends to go through the Constitutions of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They tell me that an amendment was brought to the Bangladeshi Constitution making Islam the State religion whereas in the Sri Lankan Constitution whether it is the 1972 Constitution or the 1978 requires Sri Lanka to give Buddhism the foremost place. AT NO STAGE DID THE SRI LANKAN CONSTITUTION RREQUIRE THAT BUDDHISM BE THE STATE RELIGION. Under such circumstances, Sri Lanka has been more secular on paper than Bangladesh. Moreover, a petition in Bangladesh to revert back to the secular status was summarily dismissed after a log time. Therefore I fail to appreciate the point that the author is trying to drive in saying that courts upheld the secular principles of Bangladesh. What matters here is the attitude of the public. Do they wish to treat each other with mutual respect, recognizing them as humans irrespective of ethno-religious considerations or do they wish to be tribal dividing each other on whatever social classification the society wishes to recognize. I had to be educated to know the meaning of a derogatory remark in Sinhala one fellow made “Oka Kevulek”. It is easy to divide the humans on whatever pretext. It has sadly become difficult to recognize that we are one human race. Leave the Constitution and the law to the legal experts. We, as responsible persons must cultivate human values and crusade or be champions of oneness in society.

  • 0
    1

    This article prompted me to request knowledgeable friends to go through the Constitutions of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. They tell me that an amendment was brought to the Bangladeshi Constitution making Islam the State religion whereas in the Sri Lankan Constitution whether it is the 1972 Constitution or the 1978 requires Sri Lanka to give Buddhism the foremost place. AT NO STAGE DID THE SRI LANKAN CONSTITUTION RREQUIRE THAT BUDDHISM BE THE STATE RELIGION. Under such circumstances, Sri Lanka has been more secular on paper than Bangladesh. Moreover, a petition in Bangladesh to revert back to the secular status was summarily dismissed after a log time. Therefore I fail to appreciate the point that the author is trying to drive in saying that courts upheld the secular principles of Bangladesh. What matters here is the attitude of the public. Do they wish to treat each other with mutual respect, recognizing them as humans irrespective of ethno-religious considerations or do they wish to be tribal dividing each other on whatever social classification the society wishes to recognize. I had to be educated to know the meaning of a derogatory remark in Sinhala one fellow made “Oka Kevulek”. It is easy to divide the humans on whatever pretext. It has sadly become difficult to recognize that we are one human race. Leave the Constitution and the law to the legal experts. We, as responsible persons must cultivate human values and crusade or be champions of oneness in society.

  • 2
    6

    “The Sri Lankan passport is one of the worst in the world.”

    Says who? Millions of satisfied tourists enjoy their time in Sri Lanka every year. Look what people are saying on TripAdvisor: “best holiday ever”, “We had the most spectacular time”, “Sri Lanka is a beautiful country and we wish everyone was able to visit”, “Sri Lanka was wonderful, an unforgettable experience.” Just because some kallathonies lost the war doesn’t mean you have to hate the country. These people are opportunists who don’t even get along with each other, due to caste differences. Anyway, secularism is not an issue in Sri Lanka, except among some minority groups who try to convert others. Buddhism is “liberal” by nature, no one is forced to convert or go to a temple. In the Abrahamic religions, there is a strong impetus to convert others. That is why Buddhism was nearly wiped out of India due to Muslim rule. The extremism you see in Sri Lanka has to do with racism and nationalism, not religion.

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      Lester

      Why would I want to mix with half half like you with an inferior language and culture Look at the THUG MR he cant resist going to THIRUPATHI & VARANASI. How many Hindus flock to Buddhist Temples. Do you have any World famous ones if tourists are arriving in their millions. Even the Dalai Lama has never been to Thalatha Maligawa

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        Kali, even though Eelamists whine and shout about fake racism and genocide, the tourists enjoy their visit. While the Eelamists (Tamil diaspora such as yourself) are paying big money to white lawyers to investigate Gota and others, the tourists are riding elephants and enjoying the beach. Are you so brain-dead that you can’t see the irony here?

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          No Lester you ignorant.

          The tourists have stopped and hotels are empty and closing down. Islamist may strike any time while Gotha is hiding from Stae Department. As for the Tamil Diaspora spending millions on Lawyers it is well spent. Whereas you lot( SINKALA DIASPORA) pay billions to Promotion Companys either to arramge visits by GOSL to meet State Department Officials or speak on behalf Sri Lanka with no effect. Billions wasted which is bound to get worse with Gotha under threat from State Department . END IS NIGH

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            Kali, I think your logical skills are declining faster than your backward English. Tourism has increased by more than 1000% since 2009, according to the data (https://www.ceicdata.com/en/indicator/sri-lanka/tourism-revenue). My point is that Sri Lanka has an economic problem, not a racial or ethnic one. The only difference between outsiders (tourists) and natives is the income level. So Gota is on the right track by focusing on economic development and ignoring the noise from human rights champions.

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              I meant to say, tourism revenue has increased by more than 1000%. Not tourism.

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          At Least for fun, no one is publishing those photos of tourists in the north talks politics, in the south ride elephants and enjoy the sunny beaches.
          I can not imagine why this doctor did not think about the other side of the story. Looks he was biased at the beginning.
          So, it is emotions that made him write this article and not the reasoning.

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    Sir

    You have written this article in good faith and I appreciate that. Nevertheless It contains many factual inaccuracies and misconceptions some of which are mentioned in the others’ comments to your article.

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    The writer Jayawardena is either intentionally hoodwinking the Lankans or has no idea what is going on in Bangladesh. The Hindus of Bangladesh are systematically marginalized and occasionally massacred by the radical, fanatic Moslems. Not only that, Bangldesh exports ISIS fanatics to the West including recent suicide bomber in New York (who failed to detonate). The tragedy of this overpopulated hell hole of Islam is best captured by the woman Taslima Nasreen who wrote the book Lajja (Shame). I implore the readers to do their own research and learn about these matters. This writer is totally wrong is his assessment. Bangladesh is not only a failed experiment in secularism, but also a totally failed state where population has exploded into a human tragedy of unimaginable horror, all due to Sharia and Islamic illiteracy, comparable only to the other hellhole called Pakistan.

    Donald Trump is visiting India at the end of February. I implore the readers to watch the spectacle of the leader of the Free World being greeted by millions of non-Moslem Indians, and feted by Modi. That is the future of the region, not the ghettos infested human wasteland of Bangladesh filled with Moslems breeding like vermin. Lanka should emulate India, not Pakistan or Bangladesh.

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    Dr A.B.P. Jayawardena

    As Bangladesh celebrates more than half a century of independence after a cruel war in 1971 lasting 9 months in which an approximate 3 million died, due to bitter ethnic confrontation between the Urdu speaking Punjabis of West Pakistan and the Bengali people of East Pakistan, both whom are of the Islamic faith, Sri Lankans can learn from their history.

    *** With all due respect there is no parallel between Banglaesh and Sri Lanka . Let me tell you why.

    1) Balngladesh was part of Pakistan and more or less ruled by Dominant Urudu speaking Pakistanis.
    2) After Mujibur Rahman won a landslide he wanted to split and Pakistan resisted and butchered 90,000 on the last day before India intervened and gave birth to Bangladesh.
    3) Despite America sending the 7th Fleet ( I think) Mrs.Ghandi sent Indian Army and liberated Bangladesh and Pakistan surendered but Bangladesh was never Greatful.
    4) There is no enthnic divide inside Bangladesh as in Sri Lanka.
    5) It is the religious and Ethnic divide which is the cause of conflict in Sri Lanka where we can never unite as one.

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    Does anyone in the Tamil, Muslim or other minority receive anything less than a Sinhala from the majority community!! Of course, they do!

    (1) When you give foremost place and State protection to Buddhism, the followers of other faiths have automatically become second class.

    (2) The armed forces of the country are made up of 98% Sinhala – Buddhist according to the Army Commander.

    (3) The public service is manned by 90% Sinhalese when they constitute 75% of the population.

    (4) The Tamil National Anthem is not sung at the Independence celebrations. What it means is the Tamils and their language are relegated to second class.

    (5) The Diplomatic postings are 99 % Sinhalese.

    (6) The die-hard Sinhala-Buddhist Minister Wimalavansa ordered a name board in Mannar to be removed since Sinhalese was not given first place. This despite Tamil being declared the Administrative language of both North and East.

    (7) Trincomalee is 72% Tamil speaking, but the district has not seen a Non-Sinhalese posted as District Secretary since independence. Same goes to Amparai District!. The Sinhalese who constitute 38% of the population is allocated 65% of the land area.

    (8) The Amparai district was created through process of state-sponsored Sinhala colonization. This has reduced the Tamils in Amparai and Trincomalee to a minority!

    I can go on, but space does not permit to do so.

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