24 August, 2019

Blog

An Open Letter To Sri Lankan Muslims

By Soraya M. Deen

Soraya M. Deen

The recent spate of hate crimes and hate speech against Muslims in Sri Lanka is alarming. These acts of hate have targeted the entire community, devastated individuals, and above all ripped our countries process of reconciliation and co-existence, whilst threatening to undermine the most basic tenets of our democracy.

Mutating Muslim hate

One of the greatest and gravest tasks facing the Sri Lankan Muslim community today is to educate the public on the differences between hating a Muslim for an awful crime committed is not the same as hating people just because they are Muslims. Issue based hatred is not the same as blanket hatred towards a community irrespective of what they do or not do.

All Muslims have a crucial role to play in addressing this problem of mutating Muslim hate head on, whilst promoting a real and honest dialogue free of political correctness on the true nature of radical Islamists Jihadism.

The Bodhu Bala Sena Bodu Bala Sena, the Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organization headed by Venerable Galagoda Atte Gnanasara has openly called for the discrimination and annihilation of Muslims and establishing a Buddhist only government and nation. The hate speech spewed by this group has escalated. As reprisal for the Eater Sunday bombings that killed more than 250 people Anti-Muslim violence with mobs vandalizing mosques, homes and businesses is on the rise, bringing the Sri Lankan Muslim communities to its knees.

The recent rally of the BBS in the city of Kandy, for the second time prompted worried Muslim traders to shut their establishments and a majority of Muslims chose to stay confined to their homes that day. Does the mere mention of the Bodu Bala Sena and the fiery monk Gnanasara send ripples of fear and uncertainty in you? Do you chose to close shop and stay home because law enforcement has failed you?

Hate is acceptable in Sri Lanka 

Many politicians cry foul and condemn hate. They say hate is bad. But they fail to genuinely address hate and the root causes of it. This is not an oversight or an accident. It is because the most powerful forces, are those that are violating the rules. They have incredible power and influence. Not the ruling party, nor the opposition nor the other leaders will stand up to condemn that hate. There is no debate, there will never be. Let’s face that reality. Let’s know that it will only get worse.

It’s time for you to identify by name who these people are who are spreading and promoting the hate. Those who are staying idle. Your ability to build a coalition of people comprising other Sri Lankans from the Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and Christian communities will be critical to how successful you will be in agitating for action.

Build power, don’t learn to be helpless

I asked my relatives in Kandy, what they did when Gnanasara Thero was speaking just a mile away from them in Kandy on July 7th? They said, “Nothing, we can’t do anything now.”

I inquired, “Do you now 100 people in Kandy?” to which my cousin she replied, “Yes, of course.”

I asked her, “Why couldn’t a 100 of you have gathered, hired some private security, maybe informed the local police chief and shown up at the rally?”  I continued in true Sinhala fashion, “You guys will wait quiet, in your beautiful homes, reading the Quran until Gnanasara and his monk brigade washed his hands on your heads.” (Oluwata atha hodanakang)

We seek to remain powerless, helpless and innocent. It is expedient because it puts us in no danger. Yes, you can get killed for speaking up. Yes you will be attacked and ridiculed if you say the wrong thing. Yes there are a myriad of reasons why we chose to remain silent.

But your silence today is a weakness. We cannot look at hatred and bigotry in a vacuum anymore. The escalation and the impact these crimes have on our daily lives are reminders that any type of hate and bias ultimately hurt us all. We don’t have to go too far, just read our recent history.

Power is the ability to act. The ability to assert oneself to exercise influence. Innocence on the other hand is the failure to understand and acknowledge the reality of this power.

The people missing to make this happen are the Muslims. Work on your ability to get more people on board. People who will be passionate about the issues that impact you. People who are passionate about social justice. People who are committed to the process of peace and reconciliation. Mobilize, hundreds and thousands of them.. Muslims. Tamils, Sinhalese, Christians, those aboard, those visiting, those foreigners – everyone. Begin the process of organizing people for action.

Live in community – You can’t do this alone. Listen, more than you chose to talk. Who are the people of influence in your community? What talents, gifts and abilities do they have? Focus on how you can leverage these gifts?  Find out more about your community. What issues promote anger, frustration and concern? What values are being violated? What do you all have in common? Build consensus and solidarity around the issues that you hope to address.

Build power. Seek power and influence in the public arena. Understand how decisions  are made and get engaged in the process. Position yourself as a force to be considered.

People need a plan, a purpose,  a movement. Give them the tools to act. Too many people today are married to their smart phones and computers. Activism for some is confined to posting or forwarding a video or email via social media. We must commit to serious action.

As Gandhi would say, “The difference between what we do and what we are capable of doing would suffice to solve most of the world’s problems.”    

Hold our leaders accountable

Have you ever heard our political leaders say, “Lets join together to solve these national issues?” They will not. That is because their focus and goal is to get power for themselves.

Political leaders have failed and continue to fail in protecting the safety and rights of the Muslim population. Dr. King once said, “It is not the violence it is the silence that is deafening.”

It is this silence that is today an existential threat for Muslims. Some of our political leaders have become facilitators of this hatred. Some active and vocal, whilst some others passive and prodding.

Because of their failure to address this issue there is today an escalation, a provocation and a sense of normalcy in the hatred towards Muslims. Be very specific about who said what and who did not respond to the hate. Individually name the hater and the one who promotes it. Be specific and general. Hold them accountable, ask them what they hope to do about it.  Write letters to the newspaper, hold a rally or march, organize a community awareness campaign, be active on social media, call your ministers and other community leaders, build solid partnerships with individuals and organizations who work on social justice issues. If you can’t run walk, if you can’t walk crawl, if you can’t crawl sit, for goodness sake do something.

Now is the time for you and the community and all of Sri Lanka to come together to prevent these incidents of hatred being legitimized by the silence of our elected leaders and from taking place in the first instance. Holding our leaders accountable is critical for us to prevent and prohibit such acts in the future.

The more you retreat, the more the haters will advance.

Look for the leaders who stand with you and support your aspirations. In a recent post the Minister of National Integration, Official Languages, Social Progress & Hindu Religious Affairs, Mr. Mano Ganesan stated, “The changes should come from within. Nobody outside Muslim community shall try pushing it. We will provide support through discussions. I am confident that soon Muslim moderates will take up the responsibility and provide leadership. Let us stand up as Sri Lankans.”

Stand up to the Islamists and the bigots 

Jordon Peterson reminds us that, “In order to be able to think you must risk being offensive.”

Express your outrage on Islamists terror. It is not an attack on Islam or Muslims. We must continue to remind people that it’s inevitable that our words will offend some. Silence will better serve our personal interests and communities image, but what is required in these times is to honor our deepest values of truth and love for our country and faith.

Sri Lanka has been a country where Muslims had no restrictions in the expression and practice of our faith. That right and the freedom to practice that right was always protected. It is the political Islam preached under the guise of Dawah that began to pose problems even within the community. Led by zealous Moulavi’s and self-appointed Ulaimas, we began a movement preaching on how society must be governed. From halal bids to segregated Islamic schools, women’s attire and role in community, began the movement not compatible with Sri Lankan culture and the Sri Lankan Muslim history. It is quite evident that these theocratic moves were well funded and led by a certain group of people who envisaged a Caliphate and Islamic rule in Sri Lanka.

Until recently the Muslim communities have failed and been mostly silent in denouncing some of the roots of violent extremism. It is only our fearless voices that will enable our youth and the generations to come, to speak up against this distorted view of Islam presented by the Islamists that does not serve us anymore.

For far too long we have been wearing bubble wraps lest we offend. Let’s not forget that no matter who you talk to we will not find agreement on all ideas, particularly in religion. We will live with tension. We must talk about those thoughts that lead to tension. Unless we talk with each other, we will embolden the other to descend into tyranny.

According to Wikipedia, “Islamism is a concept whose meaning has been referred to as diverse forms of social and political activism advocating that public and political life should be guided by Islamic principles, or more specifically to movements which call for full implementation of sharia.”

The Islamists calls for a global caliphate is well known. Global Jihad is an old concept finding new roots in the modern world. Support for such calls from within Sri Lanka were not new. What is new is that the scale of violence we witnessed in the Ester Sunday Attacks of April 21st 2019 to meet those ends.

During a recent visit to London to present at the House of Commons, my views on Sharia courts and the need for One Law for All, I visited several mosques. After several conversations with leaders of mosques, I note with grave concern their chilling responses, that Islam is the best religion and must be the final solution to all of mankind.

It is this hypocrisy that infuriates me. Look out for this in your communities. Address it head on. Here were religious leaders who left their Muslim sharia law ruled countries, now living in the West, enjoying incredible freedoms and benefits, their children receiving well rounded education but dreaming of a Sharia state in the UK.

Islam desperately needs a revaluation and Sri Lankan Muslims must lead the way in openly calling for reform that is social and religious. We must candidly and honestly admit and acknowledge that some challenging verses in our scripture have given doctrinal legitimacy to violent extremism and our failure to recognize this fact and educate the community on the contextual realities has legitimized the violence. Our continued failure to do this will push us to the brink of – reform or face rejection.

For the vast majority of Muslims world over, the very idea of the dangers of Political Islam is well understood. The records of the fifteen (15) countries that implement a form of Sharia law, namely Afghanistan, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, certain regions in Indonesia, the Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen are self-evident.

Sharia might appeal to you because you are Muslim. But look at these countries that enforce sharia!  Don’t be complacent about small scale Islamist activity – The “Halal” controversy must be well etched in our minds. The truth is that “Shariasm” has indeed hijacked Islam and we must be awoke. This is not entertainment. This is a crisis.

Today your identity centers on being a Muslim and not being Sri Lankan. Our nation is puzzled more by your withdrawal rather than the lack of your engagement. If we delay, deny or don’t take on our responsibilities to discuss these debilitating issues within our community, others will do it for us. The challenge is to find moderate voices and rally around secular liberal values and freedoms. Let’s stop defending Islamism. We must call for human rights, democratic secular values to be protected and promoted. If extreme nationalists get what they, want they will come faster at you.

It’s you

The Janaposha Foundation – Unknown to many they have been feeding serving the poor and underprivileged meals to visitors to the country’s main general hospital since 2012. They are supposed to have fed over half a million people. Due to political pressure the organization stopped feeding the poor.

No matter what the hardship, I think that was a very short sighted course of action. Are we acquiescing our rights to citizenship to become mere subjects? No matter what you do, you will be tolerated by those who attack you and at the same time defended by those who protect you. Don’t give reason to be tolerated, give reason to be celebrated. The poor people you feed, need you. Always remember we the people are greater than our governments.

Step into your citizenship. Fly the Lankan national flag on your lawns, and mosques. The green color on the National flag a profoundly radical act of inclusion for that time, is a representation of Muslims in Sri Lanka, and that includes you.

Give your best to Lanka. Our good is sometimes not our best. Always remember, “Freedom is lost not because the oppressor has taken it away, it is lost because its defender is too weak.”

*Soraya M. Deen,  is a lawyer, community organizer and an award winning international activist. She focuses on countering violent extremism by educating and empowering women to action. She is the founder of the Muslim Women Speakers Movement. Author of “101 Community Service Projects for Muslim Youth.” She is also the President and co-founder of the Interfaith Solidarity Network, one of the largest interfaith organizations in Los Angeles.

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Latest comments

  • 16
    2

    Good write-up. Lets get going, do you part even if it’s a little.

    The racists will withdraw as soon as they see decent Sri Lankan rise.

  • 27
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    Its all good to write when living overseas, the Author is not in Sri Lanka to face the music, what can she lose, an annual trip to SL, will her children suffer the consequences. In Sri Lanka the reality is different, the 100 people she is asking to turn up may have been assaulted and be hurt. Its high time the people living overseas understand the situation before writing. If the same contents were written by a local activist who had experienced the actual situation currently faced by Muslims in SL that would have made sense.

    • 16
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      Ramiz,
      As a fellow Sri Lankan, I am truly sad to read your words. Together we will build better Sri Lanka tomorrow. Ms Deen gives a pretty good prescription. Take her word seriously.
      Cheers!
      PS: Situation for Muslims overseas is not any better than in SL. In fact, it is worse in many places.

      • 11
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        Ben Hurling,
        It is sad that you cannot understand the feeling of Ramiz. So many people said many times together we will build beteer Srilanka tomorrow. Truth is tomorrow never came for past 70 years and there is no signs of coming for another 700 years. Day by Day Buddhist monks with the support of Sinhala only military and police force continue to violate all the norms and not a single political leadership is capable of stopping that violations. Have you heard of that Monks are forcefully building Buddhist Temples after destroying Tamil temples in the North?

    • 12
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      I have been where you are. I hear you.
      When my son was bullied repeatedly for being a Muslim, I took action steps.
      Today I head one of the largest Interfaith Solidarity Networks in Los Angeles.
      We stand up strong for each other. No hate crime goes by us.
      Fortunately we have great community relations with law enforcement.
      We have robust clergy councils. Every month we sit with law enforcement and share our grievances. they tell us theirs..
      I live in both place. Next week in SL thru September. Organize your community, I will come and share some perspectives.
      The world is n a bad state, but everything will become still worse, unless each of us does his best.
      thank you – Soraya

    • 5
      2

      Ramiz, can’t agree with you more brother. But, there is something she and the guy who lectures to us from Australia can do, if their concern for the Muslims in Sri Lanka is Real.

      They can easily form a group in Canada or Australia or anywhere else, explain the plight of the Muslims here to other Sri Lankans living there and urge them to take matters up with their associates in Sri Lanka, so that the local Sri Lankans, Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils can get together to arrest the situation before it gets worse.

      My sincere request to the Muslims living overseas is to STOP telling us what to do, but do what they can, with little sweat, to make life better not only for Muslims but for ALL Sri Lankans living here.

    • 1
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      Be thankful that someone from overseas has penned this article of Solidarity and encouragement. It’s up to the community together with like minded people from other communities to unite as one and confront these rabble rouses. Not through violence or animosity but by peaceful At least let us make a start.

  • 8
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    Sri lankan muslims knos the outside and inside of the story. The problem is Wahhabis and muslim NGOs. It is a team of Wahhabis who killed 300 people and I heard even yesterday one injured died. So, it is continuing. 500 are maimed. Sri lankan buddhists, BBS are bashed continuously for not screaming loud and WESTERNERS OF EVERY RELIGION ARE CRYING OUT LOUD FOR Sri lankan MUSLIMs. I here even a UN agent, on behalf of UNHCR, came to study something new for Srilanka THAT IS RIGHT TO ASSEMBLE. So, what they will do during the election, and Arab spring or colour revolution ?
    Why Srilanka is not proposing in establishing a new world body parallel to UNITED NATIONS which understand Asians. There should be a strong attempt to do that. I think, Africa and most of Latin america too will join.

    • 4
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      Hey JD – Hang on, What is/are or who is/are Wahhabis? I know how to doubt a big-talker

      • 0
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        We really don’t know anything about Wahabism and neither am interested in knowing anything about it. We follow ISLAM in it;s purest form and will suffice for us.

  • 20
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    I am 65 years old and know the writer and her family well as we grew up in the city of Kandy. I think she too could relate to what I have to say. Looking back we are talking of two eras in our lives. Both very different to each other.
    The first was the time we came to understand what life was all about which would have been in the late 1970’s and the second era in our twilight years the present, which is the last year of the second decade in the 21st century.
    In the first era life was very different and all communities lived in harmony especially with most going about their religious practices in silence and obscurity. The Buddhists visited the temples and the Muslims went to the mosques, the Christians to Church and the Tamils to the Kovils. There was no hullabaloo how they practiced their faiths which was generally limited to the older folk of the respective communities.
    Things changed drastically after the Middle Eastern oil boom and half educated Muslims crossed the seas to be indoctrinated with an Arab culture completely alien to what was prevalent in Sri Lanka at that time. The practice of Islam as to how it was done in those countries became the corner stones of those Sri Lankan Muslims, who shed their upbringing and embraced it with open arms.
    It would have been fine if they remained in those countries and practiced it the way the Arabs did it and let their bodies go six feet under. But they did not do so as the immigration laws in those countries are very much different to what is being practiced in the West. These Sri Lankan Muslims with their brains screwed up came back to Sri Lanka and tried to impose themselves on the Sri Lankan populace.

    • 5
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      AshyD

      When you wear the trouser and coat this is western attire all should wear the national kit, Prime Minister is wearing western kit, President is wearing the national kit, Opposition is wearing the National kit red ribbon. There are appearing in front of the world as divisions.

      • 2
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        Ashy please inquire as to of the 225 that includes elected and appointed parliament members how many of them have a basic educational qualification?
        You would understand where this country stands.

      • 1
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        Who wants to wear the national ambude and do you want us to travel by bullock cart?

    • 6
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      AshyD ..did you ever think why in the first place troves after troves Muslims had to go to the Middle East for their economic prosperity? Let me tell you during that time in the 70s and 80s the country was going through a rapid sinhalisation with almost of the government jobs going to the majority. Muslims youth had no other choice but to go out and seek employment. Local politicos were quite content with the Mulsim community as they were not demanding for job or anything else from the government but merely giving them the votes for the few crumbs thrown at them. You rob one community to treat the other and the social fabric inevitably changes. If post-independence SL had taken care of all its citizens, Sinhala, Tamil and Muslims equally , this tragedy that we are facing today with the total collapse of the country we could have averted it.

      • 10
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        Lee,

        I don’t agree with you. (By the way it should be “Droves and NOT troves” ).

        I am from that era so am quite conversant to disagree with you. Government jobs were few and I know of many Muslim men and women who joined that sector if they had the required qualifications and the aptitude to pass the interviews.

        The late 1970’s and early 1980’s saw the JRJ government in power, with the open economy opening up many job opportunities for men and women alike.

        The Muslim community especially the Moors kept their daughters from school after they attained puberty and hence did not educate them. Other than in the large cities the girls of the Eastern province and some fanatical parents even in Colombo, Kandy, Galle and other areas kept the girls at home and gave them in marriage when they turned 14, 15 or 16. This is ONE REASON that the screwed up Muslims are fighting to keep the MMDA in tact.

        The Muslims boys too gave up their education to opt into business and started working in a shop or began selling various wares instead of pursuing their studies.

        So, blaming the country for your own faults is not the remedy. If you look around there are many Muslim men and women holding top positions in government and the private sector, but they are a few. If you are educated and suitable you have a place anywhere.

        Note: It is NOT only the Muslim men and women who have opted to go to the ME seeking greener pastures but the majority out there are NON-MUSLIMS.

        Lee, your argument does not hold water.

    • 6
      2


      “The Muslim men who came back from the ME started wearing the Arab dress, the “kandura” minus the head dress. They adopted this dress as it was most economical and practical in that part of the world. Most of the Muslim men including those of the other communities were on bachelor status without their families.
      These Muslim men were attracted to the mosques because they had nothing much to do after work.Mosques were in close proximity to their workplaces and when prayer time was announced they all moved to prayer. Ignoring the call to prayer had certain repercussions especially with the majority around them being Muslims.
      They moved around with other nationalities like the Bangladeshis, Pakistanis, and Indian Muslims. It was a competition of sorts among these nationalities to show each other as to who practiced Islam better.
      Those who were in labor camps or working in hotels and some companies where cluster accommodation was accorded were looked at with a hawk’s eye as to who attended mosque and who did not.This rubbed down on them especially with the virulent, vitriolic and vituperative preaching that was prevalent in the mosques before and after prayers by preachers who came from other countries where problems were galore. There was a sort of generalized brainwashing that was being practiced. Those who were vulnerable in the congregation swallowed the pill.
      Most of these preaching were directed at the Israelis and the Americans and the need for Muslims to stand up against what these preachers called the genocide of Muslims. In the UAE there were instances where some preachers were surreptitiously deported when they crossed the line and went a bit too far.

    • 8
      2

      AshyD,

      .” Looking back we are talking of two eras in our lives. Both very different to each other.”

      ” These Sri Lankan Muslims with their brains screwed up came back to Sri Lanka and tried to impose themselves on the Sri Lankan populace.”

      You are spot on.

      You are describing the effect.

      The Cause is Wahhabism ,Salafism and it s clones, and many orthodox Ulama, and their interpretation of Islam. Sufis are marginalized and attacked.

      No reasoning, no thinking, no Philosophy , no science, only root memorization of the Quran in Arabic, a language they do not even understand. Just look at the GMAT scores of the Wahhabi Saudi graduates. They are the lowest in the world, at 330.

      Quick Post: L&V’s National IQs predict GMAT scores across 173 nations

      http://humanvarieties.org/2014/02/02/quick-post-lvs-national-iqs-predicts-gmat-scores-across-173-nations/

      Regression Plot: The regression plot for GMAT scores and L&V’s (2012) Estimated National IQs is shown below.

      https://humanvarietiesdotorg.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/gmatregressionplot.png

      There is a whole generation of Sri Lankan Muslim youth, Madrasa graduates, who have memorized the Quran in Arabic but do not know what it says, do not know the Multiplication tables and believes that the Sun goes around the Earth and the Earth is spread out like a carpet.

      Interfaith dialogues will only make a marginal dent,

      It is science, reason, critical thinking and philosophy that will make a difference. The the Muslims can compare what they have been brainwashed with with the actual facts and observations. Then they can get to the age of reason and enlightenment.

      • 0
        4

        Amarasiri

        When they receive money them Wahhabism ,Salafism and it s clones, is not in count, Hungry man eats what ever he is give. Full stomach man he reads the menu card before he eats.The meaning of life is not to go up, to achieve it is not simply to exist, to survive, but to move ahead, It is not brain washed people go where they are happy

  • 13
    10

    I read with some sort of amusement Soraya M. Deen’s article – amusement because as a Muslim and a lawyer who I believe studied in Sri Lanka fails to understand that the “spate of hate crimes and hate speech against Muslims” is something they brought upon themselves LONG BEFORE the Easter Sunday attack of 2019.

    Pre July ’83 riots Sri Lankan Muslims were comfortable and content in living in a pluralistic society sans restrictions in any form from within the Muslim community, however, Post ’83 ethnic riots and the beginning of the (mainly Muslim) returnees from the post revolutionary Iran influenced Middle East, brought with them a Fundamentalist brand of Islam and the funny “gunny sack” type of Arabic clothing, the Niquab, Burkka, Hijab for women and the Wee Willy Winky Night gown worn by men etc. which was followed by the introduction of (over a period of time) Islamic Banking, Sharia Law and Halal branding of everything from water, food, spice powder and even a bag of cement (prior to this NO MUSLIMS died of starvation and neither did they refrain from building houses).

    This self segregation and withdrawal into a SINGULAR society by the Muslims was tolerated albeit, with the occasional flare-up was tolerated by the MAJORITY Buddhist/Sinhala community until the Easter Sunday Attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists that was followed by the lies and deception of the Islamic clerics, Muslim elders and politicians – in a classic case of TAQIYYA – the best example was the statement made by Minister who said that the more that 50 machetes that were found in a mosque were there to clear the shrub-land in the area, however he forgot that the mosque was in Slave Island and that there was NO shrub-land ANYWHERE in the area!

  • 4
    2

    The recent spate of hate crimes and hate speech against Muslims in Sri Lanka is alarming.

    BUT IN NEWZELAND Dubai’s Public Diplomacy Office on March 23, 2019 shows the Gulf emirate’s Burj Khalifa tower lit the previous night with an image of New Zealand’s Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in appreciation of her solidarity position with her country’s Muslim community following the March 15 massacre of 50 worshippers in a mosque in Christchurch by an Australian white

  • 7
    6

    I read with some sort of amusement Soraya M. Deen’s article – amusement because as a Muslim and a lawyer who I believe studied in Sri Lanka fails to understand that the “spate of hate crimes and hate speech against Muslims” is something they brought upon themselves LONG BEFORE the Easter Sunday attack of 2019.

    Pre July ’83 riots Sri Lankan Muslims were comfortable and content in living in a pluralistic society sans restrictions in any form from within the Muslim community, however, Post ’83 ethnic riots and the beginning of the (mainly Muslim) returnees from the post revolutionary Iran influenced Middle East, brought with them a Fundamentalist brand of Islam and the funny “gunny sack” type of Arabic clothing, the Niquab, Burkka, Hijab for women and the Wee Willy Winky Night gown worn by men etc. which was followed by the introduction of (over a period of time) Islamic Banking, Sharia Law and Halal branding of everything from water, food, spice powder and even a bag of cement (prior to this NO MUSLIMS died of starvation and neither did they refrain from building houses).

    This self segregation and withdrawal into a SINGULAR society by the Muslims was tolerated albeit, with the occasional flare-up was tolerated by the MAJORITY Buddhist/Sinhala community until the Easter Sunday Attacks by Islamic Fundamentalists that was followed by the lies and deception of the Islamic clerics, Muslim elders and politicians – in a classic case of TAQIYYA – the best example was the statement made by Minister who said that the more that 50 machetes that were found in a mosque were there to clear the shrub-land in the area, however he forgot that the mosque was in Slave Island and that there was NO shrub-land ANYWHERE in the area!

    • 1
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      Why do you think Halanwas not in Muslims lives just because you didn’t see it stamped. Things to ponder Nugara. Ignorance is no excuse

    • 3
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      Daneelo Nugara, well said. Radicalisation of the Muslim community is the main reason for ethnic conflict in the Island. There is hard evidence that certain Arab countries funded the extreme groups of Muslims in this country to spread Wahaibism along with Arabization of the Muslim community. This naturally caused fear among the Sinhalese. The 21st Sunday attack by radical group of Islamic fundamentalists proved the fears of the Sinhalese without doubt. There is going to be reaction and the entire blame should be taken by the radicalised group.

  • 8
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    Comment 1
    .
    “Today your identity centers on being a Muslim and not being Sri Lankan.”
    Unfortunately Ms Deen, by titling your article ‘An Open Letter To Sri Lankan Muslims’, you are inadvertently reinforcing and strengthening the historical descriptive label (Sri Lankan Muslims) used to differentiate our community from other Sri Lankans. The verb of this label identifies our community primarily as ‘Muslims’, while the adjective describes us subsequently as ‘Sri Lankans’. The verb will always be emphasized, while the adjective will be discounted. Therefore, as long as we continue to refer to our community as ‘Sri Lankan Muslims’, our ‘Sri Lankanness’ will be perceived as being weak.
    In all our present and future discourses, written and spoken, we must ensure that we describe ourselves as ‘Muslim Sri Lankans’. This is just the beginning of a long journey for our community in our quest to be and to be perceived as equal sons and daughters of Mother Lanka. If we find it difficult to describe ourselves primarily as ‘Sri Lankans’, then how much more difficult it must be for other communities to perceive us primarily as Sri Lankans ?
    As a matter of interest, President Obama and Prime Minister Trudeau refer to their Muslim citizens not as American / Canadian Muslims, but as Muslim Americans / Canadians respectively.

  • 9
    1

    Comment 2
    .
    Ms Deen, the segment of your article under the sub-heading ‘Build power, don’t learn to be helpless’ appear to suggest that our community should adopt a strategy of confrontation when dealing with anti-Muslim groups. Unfortunately, this would result in reducing all such encounters to zero-sum games. It would only serve to strengthen the anti-Muslim forces, both in terms of numbers and passion. When we conduct ourselves in a manner that is seen as reflecting the words and deeds of anti-Muslim groups, then we run the risk of being identified as ‘extremists’ ourselves.
    Would it not be more pragmatic to adopt a strategy of circumvention in the present circumstances ? This would in fact be in accordance with the exhortation of the Holy Prophet (sal) that we resolve our problems through the processes of consultation (shoora) and consensus (ijma). Our focus in building bridges should not be with anti-Muslim groups, but with the vast majority of tolerant, non-racists in all communities through a give-and-take process, which if successful will serve to neutralize and marginalize the anti-Muslim forces.

  • 7
    4

    Sir,
    Ms Soraya M. Deen for Minister of Cultural Affairs in SL’s new cabinet 2020!
    The new ministry will include Sports, Media & Religious Affairs under one umbrella.
    Any unsolicited, loud screams against her appointment from Sinhala-Buddhist Bigots or Primitive Islamist lunatics will not be entertained.
    Cheers!

  • 6
    6

    Soraya Deen wants to delight Western thinking people and ideas. For you, everything that the so-called Western-educated people do may be acceptable and fine. That’s your choice. We don’t care. But we, Muslims should live like Muslims not as you or someone wants us to live. There are plenty of social and religious issues in every community.

    • 7
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      What you are saying Gaus is that your Islam is greater than any national identity. So if you want to live in the way that you think a Muslim should live, that is fine. Live the way the Prophet (OWBP) lived, but don’t do it in a Buddhist country.

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    The language/religion-divide started as a shallow rut, grew cliff-size and is now a chasm.
    VIPs of successive GoSL exploited the ‘divide’ to enhance their wealth.
    .
    An example: Acting on ‘information’ on forced sterilisation of non-Muslims provided by some doctors at Kurunagala Teaching Hospital, Kurunagala Police took Dr. Shafi Shihabdeen into custody. The DIG Kurunagala has told courts that there is insufficient evidence to sustain the charge. The Kurunagala Magistrate has re-remanded Shafi to enable police to investigate Shafi’s wealth.
    Compare with Gnanasara Thera, the founder/Leader of BBS-Buddhism. The incriminating criminal acts of anti-Muslim violence is well known. His wealth is increasing by the hour.
    Gnanasara is roaming free.

  • 9
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    I agree with what Nugara had said. I have spent life with Muslims for a long time in SL and it had been very pleasant always. They were hospitable, friendly and simple and had no extremism in their ways. They never felt that they were different or “superior”. All happened after 83 and also the ME money and these people, mostly ignorant and not well educated, fell victim to the Arab way of life and even started to feel and believe that they are a different entity. A superior chosen people by Allah, similar to our pathetic “Sinhala Buddhists” beliefs of a chosen people by Buddha. These confusion and mix up led to all the chaos in Lanka. It is sad to say, that fundamentally Islam is a somewhat violent religion to a great extent and there is severe intolerance. They are brain washed by Quran to believe that non-believers are sinners and no right to exist. Sadly Catholics too had this warped mind and thus they were too at conflict for a long time. Hell and heaven were foremost to them. Among Muslims, murders in the name of Islam is justified. Their beliefs and practices are mostly archaic and outdated and even primitive. But no one can tell them. Thus slowly but steadily the traditional Lankan Muslims have transformed into a fanatic form of Muslims and their demands and practices naturally not only irritated others but even threatened others. They may say that it is their fundamental right. But if so, why all over the world Muslims are at the receiving end and viewed with suspicion and fear. God and religious faiths are in our hearts and not in what we display. Sadly this is followed by Sinhala Buddhists and they too well and truly made Buddhism into a Taliban type Buddhism and thus all hell broke loose.

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    [I have been where you are. I hear you. When my son was bullied repeatedly for being a Muslim, I took Today I head one of the largest Interfaith Solidarity Networks in Los Angeles. We stand up strong for each other. No hate crime goes by us. Fortunately we have great community relations with law enforcement. We have robust clergy councils. Every month we sit with law enforcement and share our grievances. they tell us theirs..]
    Dear Ms Deen, in theory what you say is correct. Silence is worse than violence. But you are talking in the perspective of LA, a land despite all its hatred and racial biases, yet there is law and order and there is avenue to seek justice. There is room for salvation. There are men and women from all shades that have the duty and morality to stand for justice and fair play. Americans are not bogged down in this nonsense of historical ownership, natives, blah..blah… but a land built by all nationalities. But sadly in SL we are totally bogged down in racism, religion and tribalism and history. We are hell bent on creating new history than creating a productive nation for all to live in prosperity. There is no government here, no justice here, no law and order here, no religion here, no honesty here no courage to stand up and talk here. A sinhala thug or a priest could just walk into your house and murder you and no one will deal with them. When Sinhala fanatics and monks utter murderous racism no action, no law and no constitution. But when a Tamil or Muslim say some thing even legitimate they are arrested and locked up. Even if you wear an underwear with a design somewhat closer to Buddha or the Dharma Chakra (but no dharma here) and you are locked up.

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    Private Media too has a hand Hate Speech.

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    Soraya Deen… Its easier said and done.
    The healing must come from the Catholic Church. The Cardinal who took the initiative must follow through.
    Also the Clergy of the Northern Catholic Church led by Rayappu & Emmanuel are responsible for the Northern terrorism. They have done nothing.

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    Soraya Deen writes with sincerity and passion. That she does from LA is beside the point. We all now live in a global village. The Easter bombings did not kill just Sri Lankans. Her message is a simple one; that we act, and that we leave no stone unturned in our quest for a return to sensibility, and reconciliation. Sadly, here in Sri Lanka, other forces are at work. No power-hungry Sri Lankan politician will stop any one in a saffron robe from spewing racist bile and hatred. In fact our politicians compete to attract their support.

    Personally, I do not believe in any superior almighty being. It is all crafted in the mind of men who use it to control and influence lesser beings. It is an oxymoron to call this superior being ‘almighty’ and at the same time witness the mayhem that goes on around us. One part of organised religion is to subjugate women, and Islam does this best of all.

    What do we have to do to reach a secular world, where we live and breathe free, only beholden to the laws that We the People make?

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    Soraya M. Deen

    The recent spate of hate crimes and hate speech against Muslims in Sri Lanka is alarming. These acts of hate have targeted the entire community, devastated individuals,

    And above all ripped our countries process of reconciliation and co-existence, whilst threatening to undermine the most basic tenets of our democracy.

    *** Which world are you living in. Real or Dream world. What makes you think there is RECONCLIATION. Frankly there is a lot of cover up to hide the truth attempt to protect the guilty tamperring with every inquiry to get at the truth.No one has been punished except the people who fought fror FREEDOM from Sinhalese Tyranny.
    There is no democracy in Sinhala Lanka . Even Africans have advanced not SINKALAMS. Dont make me angry.
    Death penalty should be applied to MR. GOTHA , MS then wen can talk about Reconciliation and moving forward.

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    Open letter to all is refrain from believing in hell or heaven. Refrain from believing in rebirth according to the so called merits or demerits. We all expecting a life after death. This is the route course for all misconducts. We have one life. Try to live this life happily and make others happy. Love ,compassion, kindness, just , fair and equality should be our key features. Try to make this world a heaven for everyone not for a selected people. We everyone equally inherit whole universe.All resources in the universe are for all of us. That is the truth. I have not seen any writing that the resources of the world are belong to some section of people.We have divided ourselves according to land,race and religion. We are fighting for the land ,religion and nation. Understand we are going in a wrong way. Due to these wrong religious beliefs and divisions thousands of people are suffering . Bitter truth is under the roof of religion we cheat our conscience.Open your eyes truth is not in believing what is not seen , truth is not sharing the world equally. You may see people die and suffer due to poor and injustice. Your heaven is make them comfortable and your hell is make them worse. Do not forget we all are same human being . No one is superior . Take a good breath and meditate a while . Keep vigilant and try to find the truth. Be enlightened. That is the answer for what we are talking today. Peace be with you.

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      Ranasinghe Perera,

      Spot on. Religion is the opium of the masses, said the Philosopher, lover of wisdom, Karl Marx.

      Priests, Monks, Ulama etc. promise Heaven, Nibbana, Nirvana, demonstrationAfterlife, Rebirth etc. and scare the faithful claiming that, if they do not follow their faith or ideology, they will end up in Hell-Fire, Apaya, Purgatory, Limbo etc. until eternity or until rescued.

      So far, no conclusive demonstration to their beliefs and Ideology.

      What has been demonstrated so far is that the Earthlings who appeared by evolution and natural selection, will die a natural death and the energy and matter that was taken from the Earth will be returned back to Earth. The only afterlife or rebirth is by those organisms that take up the matter and energy from the many decaying former organisms.

      So, the Priests, Monks and Ulama have a Field day fooling the suckers, and the politicians have joined the feeding frenzy.

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    Well said Ranasinghe but the guys around sadly have no ability to think or understand. These guys want conflict, confusion, confrontation, violence, destruction, killing all in the name of race and religion. The Sinhala Buddhist monks are a curse to Lanka and as long as these illiterate idiots are around, Lanka has no salvation. These morons are born on evil planetary influence, unwanted births, born out of infidelity and many other curses and I am compelled to believe that their curse of birth has an evil signal. Either eradicate this pest or will get eradicated.

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    I went to private Christian boy’s school in the 1970s and 80s. My friends came from all communities. Among them were Muslims. No group asserted their identity in a specific way and we all respected the Christian traditions and culture of my school. Growing up, I had never seen a hijab or a burqa apart from some Muslim parents who covered their heads with the saree. (the good old 70s !) I left SL in 1986 and returned to SL 30 years later on holiday. I saw how things had changed. Muslims in particular were asserting their ethnic identity by adopting a Middle-Eastern like dress code. Some of my own classmates had beards upto their belly and their wives looked like clones of Darth Vader. I could not understand why Sri Lankan Muslims had become so conservative as I personally found coming face to face with these people rather confronting. Fast forward to 2019, BBS is only an extreme reaction to a growing Neo-Arabic subculture being adopted by Muslim communities everywhere. While BBS’s actions must be condemned in the strongest possible manner Muslims should introspectively ask the question “Where did we go wrong?” What the BBS propagates explicitly is what a majority of Sinhalese mutter behind closed doors. This is not limited to SL. I see this across Europe from UK to Austria, Holland to Sweden and Germany to France. The city of Luton in the UK has gone from being a quaint little town in the 1960s to look like a back street of Karachchi with exclusive no Christian zones. The bottom line is this; countries have something called a Parent Culture. Whenever that culture is threatened the majority pushes back.

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    “Does the mere mention of the Bodu Bala Sena and the fiery monk Gnanasara send ripples of fear and uncertainty in you?”

    These monks, if you listen to them, are saying the country has a Sinhala-Buddhist heritage/history which is under threat from outside forces. First they warned against the Cholas/Tamil invaders, then the Christian missionaries, then the LTTE and Western NGO’s, now there is some perceived threat from Islam. If you look at demographics, then the monks have some justification. The Muslim demographic is growing faster than the demographics of Tamils and Sinhalese combined. What will happen when Muslims make up 40% of the population in the East? They might ask for a separate state, as was the case in India, Kosovo, and Singapore. So this is a real threat, the monks have good foresight to comprehend social dynamics.

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    Still Muslims dont understand why they are disliked worldwide? They got themselves isolated owing to blind faith.

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    Why didn’t you gather 100 people known to you in Kandy during the BBS rally rather than conveniently enjoying the peace and security in the UK. The problem in Sri Lanka is that there is no law and order. Looters and arsonists can walk scot-free and your rhetoric will not work in lawless banana republic.

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    Kattankudy Ahamedlebbe started SLMC with Ashraf as leader. Power greedy Ashraf who couldn’t secure a seat in Kalmunai from SLFP to contest, used SLMC to contest. He took a cue from Thondaman and wanted to be a kingmaker. If we compare the number of anti Muslim violence before creating SLMC and after, the reason is obvious.

    The Muslims should dissolve all Muslim political parties and join the mainstream parties it they want to be safe in Sri Lanka.

    • 0
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      Old Muslim

      This canard you put forward “Thondaman wanted to be a king maker”
      was an invention of some mischievous persons in the media. People close to him told me the old Trade Union supremo dis-associated himself from this claim – put forward more by Sinhala extremists to inflame the majority Sinhalese. Thonda had nearly 10 MPs with him
      in the late 1970s and he used this strength to improve the lot of “his people” Ashraff may have had his own calculations. Whether these eventually helped the Muslims at large, you know best. No doubt it helped Ashraff beyond his dreams personally, professionally and politically. As to what happened to both EP Muslims and others resulting from Ashraff politics across the island ex-UNP Minister
      the affable A.R.M. Mansoor prophetically said it best “Ashraff’s (SLMC) narrow politics will ultimately harm all Muslims” Ask yourself, if this is true or not.

      Dravidian

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    Srilankan so called muslim community is filled with “munafiks” (hypocrites ) . The fake all ceylon jamiyathul assholes are a den of thieves who’s main concern is their businesses than preaching the real Islam. According to Allah, the munafiks are bound to get a painful torment. That’s exactly what they are experiencing right now.

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