18 July, 2019

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After Kandy Riot: The Way Forward

By Aboobacker Rameez

Dr. Aboobacker Rameez

Much has been written about the recent Kandy violence unleashed against Muslims by the Sinhala Buddhist fringe groups. The trigger of violence began with a personal altercation between a lorry driver belonging to majority ethnic group and four drunkards, who happened to be Muslims, that led to the demise of the lorry driver. In response, it triggered a full-scale anti-Muslim violence in the central province that resulted in 2 deaths, 28 injuries and damage on 445 houses and shops, 24 mosques and 65 vehicles. Although those perpetrators were brought before justice, nothing could avert a violence spiraling out of control with the involvement of Sinhala Buddhist fanatical groups and due to laxity on the part of law enforcement authorities at the time of crisis. 

Economy of the country collapsed

Kandy violence brought nothing but a colossal loss not only to the Muslims but to the economy of the country as well. It is reported that almost 1 billion worth of damage has been caused to properties owned predominantly by Muslims. Hotel industry has already suffered a severe blow with sudden cancellation of reservations made by tourists in the hotels, particularly in central province and many countries in the world have forewarned their citizens of impending danger waiting ahead of their scheduled visit to Sri Lanka. In short, tourism industry has experienced a huge disaster due to the violence occurred in the hill country, coupled with declaration of the state of emergency and censorship of social media. Although politicians took pride in saying that the telecom industry was able to generate some financial gains by the censorship on Facebook and WhatsApp, its effect on our country’s overall economy is far-reaching. Report of share market going down as a result of Kandy riot is already observable, while foreign investors and would-be investors in the country will revisit their intention of doing so in future.

Factors behind the riot 

I do not wish to do the post-mortem of what other writers have extensively dealt on the factors that contributed to the violence against Muslims not only in Digana or Teldeniya, but other parts of the country in the past too. Myth of sterilization pills ( wantha pethi), paranoia of population growth of Muslims and their inordinate wealth, among others, lack of integration and acculturation, and Islamicization of Sri Lankan society are highlighted as the key factors for wanton onslaught against Muslims. Medical practitioners and other scholars have effectively debunked these allegations against Muslims. However, it helped serve for fanatical groups, who are reported to be politically motivated, as an excuse to attack the Muslims in all parts of the country. It appears that anti-Muslim sentiment, due to incessant campaign by fanatical groups, has deeply entrenched in the psyche of the youth who are apparently misguided and misinformed of truth. Unfortunately, the damage has already been done in a large scale despite the violence has ceased. The peace that prevails now in Kandy and other parts of Sri Lanka is only ephemeral, since the government has not arrested the root cause of factors that led to the violence against Muslims. Instead, the government has apprehended some actors who were dancing to the tune of masterminders of the Kandy riot.  Then, what is the way forward for this malaise that has apparently deep-seated?

Way forward

In my view, the following are some of my suggestions to curb such violence in the country in future. For easy reference, I have listed in numbers as follows: 

1. Laxity of the government was largely highlighted as the key factor to contain the violence in Kandy. When a situation arises of this nature unexpectedly, onus is on the government to enforce full force of the rule so that the situation can be brought under control and the perpetrators could be held accountable.

2. Unit of riot police/force consisting of armed forces representing all ethnic groups will have to be constituted and mobilized in times of crisis.   

3. Strong actions will have be taken against all those who propagate racism/extremism in the name of religion or ethnicity either in social media or in open spaces.

4. The government should proscribe all radical elements, regardless of ethnicity or religion, in the country that propagate hate, lies and suspicion about an ethnic group among the psyche of youth in particular and the people in general.    

5. The government and civil society organizations will have to produce solid evidence to dispel the myth against Muslims surrounding sterilization pills, population growth of Muslims, their inordinate wealth, their Islamic behaviors, so on and so forth. Subsequently, this has to be disseminated to the majority community via electronic, print and social media and places of worship like Buddhist Vihara and Daham Paasala

6. Concept of pluralism or multiculturalism and comparative religion should be included in the curricula of schools and taught from the primary level of education.

7. Sinhala language as a compulsory subject in a Tamil medium school and vice versa should be introduced from the elementary level of education as soon as possible. 

8. Civil society groups will have to be formed comprising of cross-ethnic representatives/civil society activists so that they could counter the myth propagated in the name of religion or ethnicity.    

9. Interaction between the representatives of All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema and National Shoora, and the Buddhist Sangha will have to be held regularly, at least monthly, so that a lot problems could be mitigated.

10. Professionals like doctors, engineers, lawyers representing all ethnic groups will have to engage in constructive discussions about issues confronting their communities. 

If these suggestions are heeded or positively taken in the light of recent trend of anti-Muslim violence in the country, I do hope that Sinhalese and Muslims will live in peace and harmony as they lived in the country for more than thousand years in amity in the past.

Dr. A. Rameez is a Senior Lecturer in Sociology, Head/Department of Sociology, South Eastern University of Sri Lanka. He could be reached at: arameez@seu.ac.lk

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Latest comments

  • 6
    5

    How about the two sinhala people killed by you muslims. Why don’t you organize and pay some comphensation to the bereaved family with two children. How do you ask for one sided reconciliation just the wasy Tamils are asking. Do you think sinhala peole are that dump ?

    • 5
      2

      Mr.Jim,much worried about the brother who was killed by the 4 drunkards. But the point here is ,it was a personal problem .So why have to burn the shops and mosques etc and the belongings of another community?You can see this is as a total jealousy and a pure damage for the country’s economy.Don’t you think so?

      • 0
        0

        Rio

        Fortunately for you; there’s an excuse because they’d been under influence.

        But still the problem arises, how can even drunkards beat a single person (without another justifiable reason visible) to death for overtaking?

        Not arguing that it’s totally racial behavior but @ least there’s meagre doubt to take it as racially driven.

        Even if it’d been racially driven police should have stopped it @ earliest possible time.
        All the culprits must be taken to custody & dealt with.

        All the communities must accept/understand the fact that shedding the differences is the best/only way to end these types of conflicts.

    • 3
      0

      The Sinhala extremist intervene when the local muslims were organizing for collecting money to give the innocent driver who was killed by drunken driver. He needs to be compensated- no doubt.

      Another one who was part of mob who died by his own hand grenade got exploded while he was going to attack the Muslims shops and set fire houses. Karma killed him. He has to suffer- do doubt

    • 2
      0

      Jimjim;
      The family was already paid 15 laks Muslims and some budhist business men
      …..You , seems to be a Thug group, dont go and get a portion of the money from that family.. Why do you always write when you are under influence of ” KASIPPU ” ? .. You are the one in CT who got deleted most comments written by you which proves you are behaving as a extremist..

      Very good and inspiring article .. Keep on..

      • 0
        0

        JIM comments are stupid it is the backward thinking of illiterate people like him that is send our beautiful country into the stone ages. When has issue between people become are racial issues, it is pricks like this who cause it. Extreme Radicals believes have no place in this time and age. Leave religion and Ethnicity a side, first learn to love humans. We all are born with nothing and when we die we are nothing. Crime happens all over but the issue should not be divulged into what caste of people fought.. Regardless of ethnicity if you do harm you should be punished. You talk about the Muslim Thugs, what about the Sinhala Thugs.. STFD… We are all human in the end of the day, and Srilanka is my country as much as it its yours.. so take your radical thinking stick it where the sun does not shine son..

    • 0
      2

      The word is ‘dumb’. Surely by just being on this site and being able to string the words together to make your silly arguments it is evident that your parents have done their best. Sad to see you disrespect them by constantly publicly making a fool of yourself.

  • 4
    0

    Hi Dr. Aboobacker Rameez;I thought you also wrote “After Aluthgama Riots the way forward”!

  • 6
    0

    Dear Rameez, since you are living in eastern province, why not start the reconciliation program there and if successful can be followed elsewhere. Not only the Amparai incident between Sinhalese and Muslims, there are several complains of atrocities committed on Tamils by Muslims, which though brought to the notice of the authorities, no action is being taken. The tolerance and restraint shown by Tamils to these provocations by Muslims has been commended by none other than Mahanayake Thero of Malwatte. There is a lecturer in your university who is trying to appropriate land used for cremation by Hindus in Attapalam, Such people should be brought under control as they are creating disharmony. So do not blame Sinhalese when members of your community are behaving the same.

    • 3
      0

      Dear Rameez, further to the above, did you hear what Malwatte Mahanayake thero had told Faizer Musthapha when they met. He said Rishard Badurdeen is spreading hatred among Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities in Kurunegala. Please remember he can commit any atrocities on Tamils and get away, but not with Sinhalese. If Muslims do not take measures to control him, do not blame Sinhalese for any consequence.

      • 0
        0

        Were You there Dr.. when all this played out.. Did you hear Rishard Badurdeen spreading hate???.. Sit down… Do not promote Hearsay….

    • 0
      3

      Countless atrocities were committed by the Tamil militants against Muslims in the East.
      Dr GS could be less selective in his memory.

      • 3
        0

        SJ both have committed atrocities on each other in the past, but since 2009 it is the Muslims who are the offenders. According to Sinhala armed services personnel even before 2009, Muslims committed worse atrocities on Tamils than other way about.

  • 9
    5

    Easy, stop Arabizing your selves , wearing Arab dresses, taking Arab names , becoming intolerant, aggressive and practising the extremist Wahhabi Saudi Muslim cult. What happened to the Indian sarees, pavadai . Thavani, and Salwar that all Muslim women wore a generation gone by or the South Indian dresses that Muslim men wore? It suited the climate and their Indian looks and heritage , than all this black sack cloth covering Muslim females from head to toe, in the hot tropical heat. Very bad for the health. Were they devout or Muslim? They blended in with Sinhalese and Tamils of the island. Now they stand out like sore thumbs, stating I really do not belong here but to the deserts of Arabia. This sort of behaviour in more contained in the Sinhalese areas but in the Tamil east , especially in the Caliphates of Kattankudi and Kalmunai it is open and virulent and very aggressive , as the Muslims here feel that they can get away with this type of behaviour , as the Tamils are now powerless in their own areas , after the defeat of the LTTE , that contained this sorts of Islamic extremism. You are no Arabs but Tamils , whose ancestors migrated to the island from South India a few centuries ago. Being Muslim is not synonymous with being Arab. Most Muslim in the world are not Arabs. Sinhalese racism should be rightfully condemned but so is Arab Islamic Wahhabism. What happened to your rich Sufi Tamil Islamic culture from South India? This is what happens when you imitate others and not be yourself.

    • 1
      1

      Well said, Pandi Kutti

  • 0
    2

    Dr. Aboobucker has done a wonderful piece of job here which is felt at this hour of need. All stakeholders should try and put this in practice no sooner than later.

  • 1
    2

    Good article

  • 2
    1

    Aboobacker Rameez
    We had 70 years of targeting Tamils. Muslims are in the radar now.
    Your suggestion “The Way Forward” may be misinterpreted to mean “Go after Tamils”

    • 0
      5

      The Muslims had suffered longer than a century of targetting.

      • 1
        0

        SJ the stupid Sivasegaram, when were yours chopped.

  • 1
    3

    Good article.Keep it up.Only neutral people could understand the value of your article.In the post war scenario of Sri Lanka Sinhala people are suspicious on Muslims and Tamils and Muslims are suspicious on Sinhalese.Sinhala people are of the view that Muslims are planning to islamise Sri Lanka and make Sri Lanka as an Islamic country and Tamils are planning for a seperate country.At present Muslims and Tamils do not trust Mahinda and his family where the majority Sinhalese prefer them to others because they are of the view that Mahinda and his family are injurious to their living.This is the main cause of these ethnic violence.

    • 7
      1

      Aroos, you missed an important point, that is Tamils do not trust the Muslims for their deceitful behaviour in the East and in Mannar especially grabbing lands belonging to the Tamils. Muslims have their work cut for them to earn the trust of both Tamils and Sinhalese, by behaving and living as normal civilised society than being driven by radical Wahabist ideology. Muslims themselves had burnt mosques in the East, used as places of worship by the Sufis – which happened during the regime of MR who chose not to act against as he and the armed forces were using the Muslims as the third front in their war efforts did not want this to spoli that relationship. If it was okay for the muslims to burn down mosques, why complain now. Where else in Sri Lanka other than in Kathankudy would you witness a welcome arch on a main road, in a language that is not spoken in Sri Lanka, namely Arabic. The adoption of an alien Arabic attire by both muslim men and women is another relatively recent phenomenon which is traceable to the 1990s that had gone unnoticed as much focus at the time was on the war in N-E. Just as the extreme Sinhalese, Muslims too should introspect their attitudes and actions against their fellow countrymen to identify the true undercurrents that has brought us all to this point, if there is to be peaceful coexistence as humans.

  • 3
    0

    The country is going backwards not forward.
    There is no forward thinking politicians in the country

  • 4
    2

    Way forward is to reduce the number of Muslims by educating the Muslim women (who are no more than chattel), educate the Mullahs, educate the ACJU, amend the MMDA, reduce the number of mosques (Katthan kudi alone has 56!!!!!!!!! on the last count), reduce the economic strangle hold Muslims have on the whole Sri Lanka economy. Its a religious trading monopoly. (The Muslims make their money by selling their wares to the majority Sinhalese population and then try to destroy that very community indirectly). The Kandian and Eastern Muslims were given refuge by compassionate Buddhist kings, when the Catholic Portuguese gave special, extra persecution (because Muslims had invaded North Africa, Spain and Portugal). Now they are trying to destroy the people who showed them compassion. When Ltte evicted Muslims in Jaffna at gunpoint in Oct 1990, again the Sinhala Buddhist govt gave them refuge. Deegavapi Buddhist lands in the East are being stolen, so is Kuragala. Now they are trying to destroy us by underhand methods. This is the gratitude we get.

    Islam has been a curse on what was predominantly (but not exclusively) Buddhist Asia from the time they started invading more than a thousand years ago. It was all destruction, plunder and pillage and rape. Lets face reality. Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia; those areas were all once Buddhist, now they are all Islamic disasters. (You can add Nigeria (Boko haram) and North African countries to that list as well, more Islamic disasters).

    Even the 1500 year old Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed by dynamite by the Taliban in March 2001, several Buddhist places in Pakistan and Bangladesh, were destroyed in 2007 and 2015,Buddhist monk was killed in Bangla in 2015), both of which were Buddhist countries.

    • 0
      0

      Good Student ,

      Round-the-clock nagging ! Good Student ? The teacher ? Dharmapala ?
      Compassionate Buddhist Kings gave refuge ? Of course Buddhist Kings
      looked after their Muslim subjects with due respect not only because
      the Kings were compassionate , but also their Muslim subjects well
      deserved it ! Because Muslims were useful to the Kingdom ! Remember,
      the racist GS , there are TWO SIDES on a coin ! The law of the country
      today is not SINHALA BUDDHIST ! It is Roman + Dutch + British sugared
      by American and French on the top ! And today’s Sirisena , we voted in
      to serve SINHALA BUDDHISTS and Muslims and Tamils ! It is that power
      you fellows find hard to digest ! Don’t you know Mr Noble GS how the
      last of your compassionate King of Kandy got refuge in TN , India ? You
      can not go back to the Kings to claim credit for their actions in order to
      justify your crimes against humanity ! Of course Muslims fought wars,
      they won wars and lost some . So ? Were Buddhists in Afganistan your
      Sinhalese ? Pakistan and Bangladesh ? Maldives and Indonesia ? Why
      call up these countries for your blood thirst and not India ? Why India
      is Hindu and not Buddhist ? How come you are the saviour of Buddhism
      and not India where Buddha was born served and died ? Tell me , in
      which country in the recent past , about a couple of centuries , Islam has
      made advances so that you have reasonable fears that the same can
      befall you ? AND BEFORE ALL THAT , IS IT BUDDHISM AND SINHALA
      that is your topmost concern ? George Bush and Tony Blair also said
      Saddam Hussain has weapons of mass destruction and that is why they
      go to Iraq and they found enough petrol there !

  • 0
    0

    Muslim population is on the increase . Most of them are in Business . They are
    building Mosques everywhere . In brief , Muslim’s presence in the country in
    every sphere of life is “BEYOND HOW IT HAS TO BE ” meaning , to be within a
    limit either EXPECTED OR DICTATED (through private and later public hatred)
    by GOONS ALONG WITH THE COMPANY OF SOME YELLOW ROBE THUGS while
    majority DECENT Buddhist clergy and majority DECENT general public just
    carry on with their everyday tasks AS IF NOTHING THAT MATTERS TO THEM
    is happening in their PARADISE which is now the MIRACLE OF ASIA . The
    hatred campaign involves two key brand IDs that cover the whole MAJORITY OF
    SIHHALA BUDDHISTS AND SIHALA (even if they are non-Buddhists) . So , the
    gang is operating for all of them ! WHAT IS THE FIRST ACTION HERE ? These
    gangs have got to be SEPARATED from the SHELTER they have sought with
    success , among the SINHALA BUDDHIST CLERGY AND THE PUBLIC ! Let them
    loudly say and act , ” NOT IN OUR NAME.” Not a difficult job . When they do
    this , THE DIRTY POLITIS that is hiding behind this campaign , the Pseudo
    Nationalists , False Yellow robes and the Criminal Goons hidden under the
    masks of SINHALA BUDDHISTS , all can be dealt with the EXISTING LAWS
    and INSTITUTIONS ! In full honesty , the vast majority has another bitter
    experience here that , whether they like it or not , Muslims and Tamils have the
    same rights of Sinhala Buddhists to live in this country and Numbers won’t
    work here ! Numbers are now only being CALLED OUT by the ROGUES of all
    hues from the majority .

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