By Latheef Farook –
The attack to demolish the Dambulla Khairiya Juma Masjd Friday 20 April 2012 is not the “beginning” as stated by the pro government Buddhist monk who led the mob to attack the mosque in an act of sheer lawlessness.
This unfortunate incident is in fact is the latest in the series of provocations unleashed to set the Muslims, who pose no threat or nuisance to any one, against Sinhalese. Most Sinhalese, especially those in the Dambulla area, distanced themselves from this vandalism stating that “we are living in peace with Muslims and this was done by people brought from outside”.
The unanswered question is who are these hired gangsters brought in from outside, who brought them and why did they agree to come?
Since the LTTE’s military defeat in May 2009 some racist elements who do not represent the mainstream Sinhalese began an organized campaign demonizing Islam and Muslims poisoning the minds of the majority community.First they used websites and the print media. Some of the articles in these websites resembled Sinhala translations of such campaign undertaken by Jewish funded websites.
These websites raised controversy over Daftar Jailini or Kuragala, 15 miles off Balangoda, which has been regarded as a holy place and visited by Muslim for centuries.
Sri Lanka’s well known journalist late M.M.Thawfeek in his book “ Muslim mosaics” pointed out that Dafter Jailani was the meditation centre of Islam’s greatest saint Qutub Mohiyaddin “Abdul Cader Jailani. The saint and his companions meditated here after pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak. During the saint’s sojourn of twelve years in this spot, the area was a close-set mountainous jungle”.
In fact there has also been a belief that the 14th century famous Moroccan traveler Ibn Batuta visited this place when he visited the “Foot of Adam” (Adam’s Peak) on his way to China from Delhi.
The chauvinist unleashed a fierce campaign whipping up a campaign to destroy this spot claiming that this is a Buddhist holy place grabbed by Muslims.
In the midst on 14 June 2011 around 11 pm Buddhist monks together with others attacked the more than four centuries old shrine of Sheikh Sikkandar Waliullah at Anuradhapura under the watchful eyes of the police. Muslims made a complaint to police and maintained calm .Later police filed case against the vandals.
It was as part of this program that mobs brought in from outside, led by a monk ,tried to destroy the Dambulla mosque and triggered the latest controversy pitting the two communities against each other not to promote Buddhism or build up a better Buddhist society but, perhaps, for political gains.
In an article published in the Sunday Times on 11 September 2011, I highlighted the orchestrated hate campaign against Islam and Muslims and the move to deprive them of employment and other opportunities to cripple their economic lifeline. Here I reproduce the article for those who are interested;
There is a growing feeling and fear among the island’s Muslims that a sinister campaign has been underway inciting Sinhalese against them. This campaign, involving eight Sinhalese language websites and ten English language sites, portray the island’s Muslim community as a threat to Sinhalese, Buddhism, Sinhalese culture and the country as a whole. They also started publishing articles inciting Sinhalese against Muslims.
One such article was on 1915 Riots in a Sinhala language daily .Hand in hand there was also campaign against cattle slaughter to rouse anti Muslim hysteria. This has been quite open and there are bill boards urging to stop cattle slaughter of what they describe as “milk giving mother”. The irony is that this orchestrated campaign by a handful of racists show that they have learned no lessons from the recent past.
All what the country needed now is to seek every possible means to heal the deep rooted wounds and help bring communities together to move the country ahead. Instead this potentially destructive campaign has taken the country back to the recent dark years.
In the recent past racist elements often said that “we will deal first with the Tamils and then take care of Muslims”. Now that the Tamils are weakened following the LTTE defeat, Muslims begin to question whether the racist elements are turning their guns on them. It is common knowledge that some, as rightly described by the Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana as professional extremists, in sheer display of ignorance, openly demand that the Tamils leave for Tamilnad and Muslims go to Saudi Arabia leaving the island solely to Sinhala Buddhists.
There were also several reports of incidents threatening mosques including attack on Muslims at prayer in Kurunegala district. A principal of a leading girl’s school in Colombo, named after a late prime minister, has told a Muslim woman, an old girl of the same school and a lawyer, not to enter the school premises wearing shalwar kameez-one of the most decent dresses for women in the world. If this is kind of racism can be found in the seat of learning what could one expect from students.
The irony is that such activities, in complete violation of Buddhist teachings, have been committed by a small number claiming to be guardians of Buddhism. Earlier they realized the reality that Sri Lanka is a multi racial, multi religious, multi lingual and multi cultural country where Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and all others inevitably need to live together , will be better for all and the country.
It is also a fact that politicians from all shades of opinion survived and thrived on racism which turned the country into a killing field. One should not forget that this same group made, according to many reports, fortunes during the 30 year ethnic war which they were responsible for. Now that the war is over this group is without business and, perhaps, may be trying to precipitate another crisis to thrive on others’ misery.
The irony is that these websites also started writing articles hailing Israel
Israel, sworn enemy of Islam and Muslims worldwide, which described Sri Lankans as ‘Monkey Looking People’ and trained both the LTTE cadres and the Sri Lankan government troops at the same time, has managed to sneak into Sri Lanka despite being expelled time and again. Do the politicians, journalists, businessmen and others who hob knob with Israelis , of course for cheap perks, know who these Israelis are, what their crime records have been and why peace loving people worldwide despise them?
Perhaps most people may not know that one of the main agendas of Israel has been to use racist elements to unleash violence against Muslims.
For example, citing Indian Interior Ministry report New Delhi based fortnightly “Milli Gazette” of 1-15 December 2009, disclosed that Hindu extremist organizations get lots of money from Israel via Europe to incite communal riots against Muslims. The report added that “in 2008 alone RS 7877 crores were given to Hindu extremist organizations which they used for subversive activities in the form of riots, bomb blasts and creating circumstances detrimental to Muslims. The report added that “investigation gives credence to the belief that Hindu terrorists are poisoning the socio-political atmosphere in India and Israel is helping them through financial help”.
Now the question we must ask ourselves is, ‘what is the guarantee that the Israelis would not do the same thing here in Sri Lanka’? Don’t be surprised if we find there are mercenaries operating in Sri Lanka.Can the island afford to take this risk especially at a time when all communities are looking forward to a peaceful future?
Already Israelis have started spreading their tentacles here winning politicians, local media, businessmen and others by dining and wining, sponsoring free trips to Israel, excursions and numerous other such incentives. Judging by the numerous distorted articles that appear in the print media it looks like they have penetrated certain section of the local media. Most journalists may be ignorant of the blood soaked history of Israel; it’s never ending atrocities and the sufferings of Palestinians at the hands of the Zionist government. They then become easy prey to Israeli manipulations.
The Muslim world, especially those in the Middle East, look to Sri Lanka with warmth and friendship .In response to Sri Lanka’s steadfast support to Palestinians some of these countries provided economic assistance and came to our rescue during difficult times including the recent war against LTTE. Of course with no strings attached. Almost a million Sri Lankans work in the Gulf States, remitting billions and cementing the island’s friendly ties. Which begs the question “is there any need to jeopardize this long standing friendship and goodwill”?
Under the circumstance Muslims, living scattered all over the island and who suffered a great deal during the ethnic war as they refused to support Tamil separatist war, can only turn to responsible elements in the Sinhalese community to ban this hate campaigns ,avert a potential disaster and save this country which cannot afford another carnage.
Read stories related to the mosque attack here