By Mass L. Usuf –
Reference the article titled, ‘A Plea to our Muslim Brethren, Please look in the Mirror’ appearing in the Colombo Telegraph of 7th April 2018 written by Dr. Sarath Gamini De Silva. Upon reading it, what came to my mind was how a prominent Sinhalese personality blamed the Muslims on the ‘Wanda Pethi’ issue. “Why are you guys keeping silent? Why don’t you respond to allegations made against you? Your silence conveys the message that what has been said is true.” He ended with a paradox saying, “because of your silence, even the fellow who said the lie will get confused and start thinking if he has in fact told the truth.”
Some statements made by Dr. De Silva needs clarifications. If not, it will pass as if he has stated the truth. I will not be judgmental about his motives for writing this but, I will be objective.
You admit that the recent riots were, “cleverly manipulated by a group of people waiting to create chaos. This was possible because of the background of suspicion perpetuated among the Sinhalese over the years”. Firstly, I have to ask you, “who are this group of people?” Secondly, “who perpetuated suspicion among the Sinhalese?” Were they by any chance Muslims?
Under this sub title you have shrewdly packaged a lot of words straight from the vocabulary of the Islamaphobes. ISIS, jihad, killings, suicide bombs, large scale murders etc. I prefer to ignore the Islamaphobically packaged clichés as these words have been prostituted and clarified already. Here, you also say, ‘enforced conversions to Islam’. Now, this is a huge lie. The Quran states, “There is no compulsion in religion”. (See Chapter 2 Verse 256).
Interestingly, you say that in Madrasas training is given to instigate violence. I am wondering to which Madrasa did the LTTE leader Prabhakaran go to. He was responsible for thousands of killings. To which Madrasa did Hitler go to? He exterminated six million Jews? Or, more recently, George Bush who murdered millions of Iraqis. You can add to this Mao Tse Tung, Pol Pot etc. who killed millions of innocent people. None of them were Muslims nor were they ‘trained’ in Madrasas. In fact, the background of the latter two was Buddhism. My dear Doctor, it is highly irresponsible on your part to spew the same hatred that is already seen in the media.
Laws of a country
You have said that Muslim countries do not allow bringing into their countries artefacts of Buddha or Hindu gods. It is incorrect for you to take the internal laws of one country and paint all the Muslim countries black. In many Muslim countries there are number of churches, temples etc.
Can you practise medicine in the U.K. with your Sri Lankan MBBS? To practise in the U.K., you have to follow their rules. Similarly, if a country has a law of its own, then learn to respect that law. If Malaysia says, ‘drug traffickers would be put to death’, we must abide by that law. We cannot question their law. If you do not like their law, do not go there.
The point is one wants to earn petro-dollars to fatten his/her purse; Build homes, get electronic gadgets, educate children abroad and enjoy all the modernities. And, Doctor, you have the audacity to speak of non-tolerance towards the non-believers. This is like condemning the very hand that fed you. The year 2016 recorded the highest foreign remittances amounting to USD 7,241.5 million equivalent to Rs.1054.5 billion. You and I are surviving in this country, partly because of this money. Let us be grateful.
Speaking about non-tolerance – Let me give you an example right here, in Sri Lanka. Muslim students are not allowed to wear their Shalwar Khamis dress and enter into a Sinhalese School. Despite an Education Department Circular permitting such dresses. Tell me how tolerant is the non-believer towards the believer in one’s own country and also, violating the Circular? In fact, there is a Supreme Court case pending. My dear Sinhala brother, even when criticising try to be fair, reasonable and objective.
Love and compassion
“You state that Quran teaches love and compassion for fellow human beings but we see little evidence of that”. Shall we consider Mettha, Muditha, Karuna, Upekkha and see the evidence of it in the death and destruction during the 1983 riots, during the LTTE war, the Aluthgama, Gintota, Ampara, Digana, Theldeniya riots? It is normal for a monk to say, “Siyalu Sathwayo Niduk Wethwa, Neerogi Wethwa” (may all living beings be happy and healthy) – it teaches compassion, love not only of human beings but of all living beings including those in the animal kingdom. Consider the half a million Rohingyas of Buddhist Burma whose houses were burnt, villages pillaged, harvests stolen, men, women, children, infants murdered. Women some of whom were raped in the presence of the husband, father or son.
Dear Sinhalese brother, Buddhism has nothing to do with all these criminal activities. In the same way, do not equate the acts of some who call themselves Muslims (could be non-muslim mercenaries too) and speak about love and compassion in the Quran. Yes, the Quran speaks of love and compassion in a manner that none other extols for the peace and harmony of human beings. Please read the Quran.
You write, “While claiming to be just one people of Sri Lanka, Muslims are doing their best to show that they are different to those of all other races or faiths.” Logically, this statement leads to an absurd conclusion, reductio ad absurdum. Further, there is no correlation between the two.
For example, the entire humanity is one people. Nationally, each country is different. Can anyone say that one country is trying its best to show it is different from all other countries? When, in fact, they are already different.
If you as a learned man are confused between the identity of citizenship and the identity of a person racially or religiously, what can one expect from the lesser mortals? As citizens, we are one people. As a nation, we are one people. We travel abroad with the Sri Lankan passport. When we are abroad, we call ourselves Sri Lankans. Racially and religiously, the Muslims are different like any other. Logically, there is no need for Muslims to show they are different.
Call for prayer
You say, “the loudspeaker calls from mosques for prayers ……a source of irritation”. You also have the temerity to state about pirith as ‘occasional’ chanting. Be honest to your own conscience. The call for prayer at most takes 3 to 4 minutes. In contrast, the pirith and all other forms of chanting every day, early morning at 5 a.m. and in the evening, continues at very high decibel for at least half an hour. In many of the junctions one can experience this. While you say that the 3 to 4 minutes call for prayer is an irritation, have the Muslims ever complained against this daily continuous pirith chanting? Who is then more tolerant?
In addition, to these on Poya days one can here songs (some of which I also enjoy). Sadly, the Buddhist songs of Mohideen Baig are rarely heard these days. The social media has it that he is a ‘tambiyah’ and his songs should not be played. Is this tolerance? Personally, I am against the Muslim call for prayer over the public-address system. It must stop. What is your stance good doctor in relation to your ‘occasional’ pirith?
You allege that there is an abundant source of supply coming from rich countries and Muslims are establishing schools, universities. Are you making wild allegations and condescending yourself to the level of racists who spread these types of exaggerations? What do you expect the Muslim child who is not given admission in government schools to do? To sleep at home or find alternative education. The demand has obviously created many private educational institutions. Why do not you speak about the so many non-muslim private educational institutions? You speak about universities. What about the Buddhist and Pali university? What exactly is your motive doctor?
Wilpattu and Dighavapi are subjects that have been prostituted by politicians, NGOs, racist organisations and by some pseudo environmentalists with vested interests. This subject is stinking and too putrid for any comment.
Rule of Law
You complain that the non-Muslim is helpless (the majority are the victims theory!) because the rule of law is not implemented in relation to Wilpattu and Dighavapi. As for the Rule of Law, I will support you fully. The rule of law is supreme and should be implemented against everybody. But, the Muslims are also helpless. Why is the rule of law not implemented against the racists who attacked, killed and caused destruction in Aluthgama, Gintota, Ampara, Digana, Theldeniya etc. The rule of law should also be implemented against the monks who were directly involved in these violences. The rule of law must be implemented by charging them under the ICCPR without soft peddling charges under the Penal Code. Have you forgotten about Lasantha, Ekneligoda, Thajudeen, the list can go on? So which rule of law are you talking about?
Speaking about the rule of law, the constitution guarantees the freedom to practise one’s religion. Then why doctor are you bothered about the number of mosques? The fundamental rights guarantee to dress what one wants. Then why doctor are you commenting on the Muslim’s dress? Fundamental rights guarantee right to education? Then why doctor are you questioning about the Schools? So, then, what is your concept of the rule of law?
You make another fantastic claim of “Maldivian invasion” into Sri Lanka because their land mass is getting submerged. You state: “The Sinhalese and other non-Muslims appear to have become a threatened majority”. See the blatant discrimination in this. Then what about the Muslims in this country? Are not the Muslims part of this country and feel threatened by this alleged fantastic theory of invasion as much as you do? You discriminate and then want the Muslim to look in the mirror!
Another wrong claim in your writing is that the medical profession immediately responded to the ‘Wanda pethi’ issue. Were you living in Mars all these days? The ‘vanda pethi’, ‘drug-laced toffees’, ‘gel’ in the ladies’ bra and under wear were utterly, baseless, deprecating lies that has been doing its rounds in the social media etc. for over a year. Where were you and your doctors then? If they had acted at that time, the Ampara incident would not have taken place.
I absolutely agree with the idea that Muslims must look in the mirror. Let me tell you and, my Sinhala brethren, please look in the mirror yourselves. It takes two hands to clap. Besides, the Sinhalese brother is our elder brother.
Finally, this reply originated because of my respect to the wisdom of my Sinhalese friend who said, “do not keep silent, speak your side of the story. If not, the lies will be believed as the truth”.