21 October, 2020

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BBS Fundamentalism: Where Does It Stop?

By Kamaya Jayatissa

Kamaya Jayatissa

“I hear that melting-pot stuff a lot, and all I can say is that we haven’t melted.” – Jesse Jackson

Is post-war Sri Lanka truly multicultural?

For a country which finally came out of a protracted civil war we surely have not learned much of a lesson when it comes to tolerance and peaceful co-existence between communities. Lack of inter-communal dialogue, anti-Muslim propaganda, destruction of private properties, escalation of hate-speech against minorities, religious fundamentalism… Where does it stop? In these circumstances, it is legitimate to ask ourselves whether post-war Sri Lanka is truly multicultural or whether it just comprises of multiple cultures that are (hardly) living side by side.

From the outside, there is no doubt that Sri Lanka, as many other countries today, will appear as an internally diverse society. Whether it is through its history, its literature, its architecture or even its landscapes, one cannot deny the cultural diversity our country gained throughout the centuries. But when digging a little deeper, one can only wonder whether our mosaic remains undamaged. Indeed, how much do we exactly know about each other’s culture, religion, language? How much do we share with each other? Do we even respect, leave alone celebrate our differences? These questions need to be considered seriously, particularly given the dangerous escalation of religious fanaticism preached by groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena which claims that this island is neither multi-ethnic nor multi-religious.

For my part, I still want to believe that Sri Lanka remains a mosaic of communities that can live together in peace and in harmony. Nonetheless, I pity that we do not truly realize it and treasure it; thereby enjoying our diversity to its fullest.

Having recently visited an Araniya near Thihariya, I experienced quite an atypical moment which, despite the recent incidents, comforted me in my thoughts. This Buddhist forest monastery which was located on top of a hill was lost in the middle of nowhere. Its surroundings were so quiet and serene that one could easily lose track of time and space. Once I reached the top of the hill, I could hear resounding chants beautifully spreading into the forest. One chant came from the temple below where the monks had just started to recite their evening prayers while the other chant came in chorus from a nearby mosque. Though completely different in terms of resonance, the two chants fused as one. And while I am pretty sure that both the temple and the mosque must have perceived the noise made by their neighbor as quite irritating at times, to me that coincidental combination was one of the most striking melodies I ever heard. For a brief moment, it sounded as two religions, two cultures; one could even say two worlds, merging as one.

Unfortunately, as it has often been the case, we tend to forget that this Rainbow Nation of ours is way more than just a few communities living side by side. Too frequently do we tend to forget that, as a nation, we need to cultivate not only our commonalities but also our differences in order to foster respect, develop mutual understanding and mostly create a platform for open dialogue between our people so that no individual or community feels marginalized to the point of being considered as strangers in their own soil. The end of the war should have been the best occasion for such a platform to be restored. Instead, what emerged these past few months is an additional form of extremism, based this time on religious intolerance and racism, which juxtaposes itself onto the current socio-political and socioeconomic crises. And for such a form of extremism to have surfaced and grown this fast, in such a short period of time, it can only be due to the fact that we allowed it for already too long by remaining passive spectators of our own downfall.

Hence, what strikes me the most in all this mess is that most of the people seem to have stopped believing a long time ago, as if agonizing in silence was the safest thing to do. Although the Government must share its part of the burden, if no urgent and effective push is initiated by us, the people, there will be no interest or need for change at the top of the pyramid, leaving us once more with nothing else than a scattered and divided nation.

So far, one of our biggest mistakes was to fight solely for the end of the war rather than also for a positive, participatory peace. We forgot to forgive each other in the process and we are now facing the consequences of our own omissions by repeating the same mistakes over and over again. Mostly, we forgot that our diversity is also part of our culture and that it is our responsibility to preserve it as much as our communal traditions and beliefs; only then will we achieve lasting peace.

My only hope is that the present crisis does not go on forever and that we will be able to regain the communal peace our parents and grandparents once enjoyed, a communal peace that my generation never had the chance to experience truly. In this context, restoring hope and commitment in the nation-building process seems to be, to me, one of our biggest challenges as Sri Lankans. And for the cynics among us who are determined to play the card of skepticism, what better inspiration than President Mandela who once said “It always seems impossible until it’s done”.

*Kamaya Jayatissa, President of What’s Next!, is a PhD student in International Law at the Sorbonne University, Paris.  She holds a Master Degree in International Law from the Sorbonne and a Diploma in International Governance and Sustainable Development from Sciences Po, Paris.

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    If one’s mind is truly conditioned according to his own religious belief he will respect the beliefs of others as well whatever the circumstances. It is the weakness of the unconditioned mind that gets influenced by corrupt material needs that begins to hate the other believers. My home was not far away from a Buddhist Temple being at home on a Poya-Day I listen to the Bana Sermons that loudly come over the loud-speakers. Though the noise at times was disturbing I enjoyed listening to good preachings of the Sermons.

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      Dear Kamaya this is a very nice and noble piece of writing on the need for GENUINE Multiculturalism in Lanka, but the reality and imperatives of the POLITICAL leaders of the country are otherwise.
      The Rajapassa brothers and sons Inc. need fake Sinhala Buddhist patriotism and anti minority rhetoric and indeed another war to survive and DIVIDE, DISTRACT and RULE mother Lanka which faces multiple crises today.
      The Rajapakse regime is stoking a “new war” arranged by the Balu Sena (who they mentor and fund) to justify post-war militarization and to prevent what they fear most – REGIME CHANGE.
      This is the bottom line and calls like yours and mine for GENUINE MULTICULTURALISM, devolution and power sharing with minorities will fall on deaf ears. Get it?! IN the final analysis the Regime and politicians of Lanka and their goons (including the UNP politicians who organized the 1983 riots are the real threat to the country’s multicultural social fabric) and you need to factor this POLITICAL CULTURE into your analysis. Thus, ironically, minorities and the International Community are Rajapssa’s scapegoats and villains.

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    Religious fundamentalist are not only from other religions. It can be from Buddhists too. As long as we recognize it and shun it, our society is very tolerant.

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    BBS should respect other religions not only muslims,even other belief like christian,hindus,and others y are bbs going to kill ppl in the name of buddha , buddha taught us straight way ,i love his sayings he was genius he never taught to insult other religions so let to live sri lankan ppl calmly

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    sister every sri lankan should think like u think i loved to read ur article thank u

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    Nature is full of diversity and contrasts. The sound of the wind, the sound of the waves, the sound of birds chirping etc. The colours of the rainbow, the flowers, the leaves. The night and the day. The contrasting people, their appearance, colour, language, race, religon etc. To live in this world we have to accept to live with diversity.

    All are not made equal. Like the fingers on our hands we all have a role to play. Like the five senses we all have different perspectives. Like the organs in the body we all have different functions.

    To live in harmony with others and with nature is the ideal we must aim for.

    Nina and Fredrick – Listen to the Ocean

    There’s a world of sun and sand
    Full of sky and far from land
    Where evening breezes caress the shore
    Like a gentle comforting hand

    Fragrant blossoms, honey bees
    Careless laughter upon the breeze
    And lovers fade into pools of deep
    Purple shadows among the trees

    Listen to the ocean, echoes of a million seashells
    Forever it’s in motion
    Moving to a rhythmic and unwritten music
    That’s played eternally

    The sound of a seagull’s distant cry
    His wings like parentheses drawn in the sky
    And two white birds clinging like foam
    To the crest of a wave rolling by

    The silence of noon, the clamour of night
    The heat of the day when the fish won’t bite
    These are the things that remind me of
    The day you sailed out of sight

    Listen to the ocean, echoes of a million seashells
    Forever it’s in motion
    Moving to a rhythmic and unwritten music
    That’s played eternally

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    I simply believe that it is an another tactic of CURRENT regime to put off the LLRC implementation and any other steps focusing on the durable peace of the country. This kind of tactics they believe could help them but not these cant be red herrings. IC and UNO pay MUCH CLOSER attention how the rulers respect the UN resolution. The fact that came to surface through the universitiy professionals^S REACTIONS requesting state run MOBITEL to ban the BBS anthem being played anymore. Latter made very clear that BBS activities are carried out with the sponsor of the ruling GOSL. If the GOSL is that visionary one, would have they allowed such silly incidents to cause angers among good Buddhists of the country ? I wonder what the GOSL has to say about all these ? As it is common with them, they just pay blind eye as BBS^s deliberate calamities are just nothing.

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    There’s only one way out. Eliminate the Rajapakse’s! Period!!

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    A Monk who does not follow the teaching of Buddha, how can he claim to be a Buddhist Monk and why are the Buddhists tolerating this nonsense.

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      U know PARK;
      He should have a history at the time he was studying for his degree. Lanken CID could screen all these. But what are they – so called defence secretary – stroll with BBS sympathisers on the streets. So what goes through GR ^s head – nothing else than building up the fences to protect his and Rajapakshe reign. No doubt almost every good buddhist monk would disgree with the leadership of BBS by going through the manner that they behaved in the last few weeks along the unncessary issue raised against the innocent muslims. In an Interview, I have seen on the screen that so called BBS secretary had no better arguments at the time raised the question why those buddhists distributed Quran of muslim to the swine in the mud. How would have been the buddhists, if the muslims or christians would have done the same to retaliate – throwing the buddhawansa to unrepected places ? Nobody seem to be thinking about all these, but supporting blind fundamentalists that creat disharmonies among the peaceful folks.

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    Theory and practice are 2 different things.

    Buddhism is a theory which is antagonistic to the very fundamentals of Islam ( which believes in one God ).

    Islam is much more tolerant towards Christianity and Judaism as all 3 subscribe to the notion that God actually exists and that one day God decided to discuss matters with some prophet like Moses, Abraham, Jesus or Muhammad, somewhere in the desert.

    Although there are many Muslims who would prefer nothing better than to mind their own business and leave other religions alone, there are also MANY OTHER MUSLIMS ( FANATICS ) who consider it their scared duty to convert all countries including Sri Lanka into Islamic republics.

    It is no secret that Muslims consider Buddhists to be Godless, idol worshippers. If the Muslims are intolerant towards their own sects ( shias, ahamadiyas etc ) to a degree that they want to exterminate them as is happening in Iraq, Pakistan etc, it is difficult to imagine they will be kind to other religions. The only reason Muslims tolerate other religions is due to the fact that Muslims are largely powerless as far as world affairs are concerned and are too scared to offend other religions.

    Knowledgeable Buddhists who are aware of this, fear that their easy going Buddhist culture which does not demand much and their lazy Buddhist way of life will be eradicated and replaced by a much rigid, strict Islamic society which demands,
    (1) prayers 5 times a day,
    (2) fasting for a month once a year
    (3) that women wear restrictive coverings & imposes all
    sorts of other restrictions on women
    (4) that homosexuals be executed
    (5) that a man or a woman who commits adultery be executed
    (6) that those who make remarks about their prophet be put to death
    (7) that anyone who disrespects a holy book be executed
    etc etc…

    Hence opposing hardline organizations such as the BBS which oppose the spread of wahabism etc have come into existence. This is a natural social phenomenon which can be explained away by the scientific concept of social Darwinism. As the Dalai Lama once said if a wolf is attacking you, only thing that will help you is not theory but a good stick.

    I am not saying that Islamic extremism is a dominant force in Sri Lanka at the moment but only trying to explain the underlying factors that gave rise to the BBS etc..

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      Take a break. These are applicable only if you are living in Saudi. In Sri Lanka BBS wants to implement buria not sharia.

      Tithata Matha, Casino, Beachboys, 3859 rape & sexual abuse incidents against women & children have been reported in 2012 – Dinesh

      Let people live the way they want and enjoy life. You seem to be suffering from paranoid xenophobic dementia. Better see a shrink.

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      American Mama says:

      “only trying to explain the underlying factors that gave rise to the BBS etc..”

      Hence the necessary justification of BBS’s creation, existence and its thuggery.

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        The underlying factors are a convicted psychopath , masquerading in and desecrating sacred yellow robes, together with other deviants . Doing the bidding of demoted perverts in sanctimonius political white, in an attempt to mobilise the deprived classes to create a diversion from the current political crisis.
        The tamils have become boring.
        The muslims as a target are fresh and more exciting.

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      God is not the notion of some people. Man didn’t just happen.He is the creation of God.Since man has advanced in science and technology he may deny the existence of God.An atheist may say show me God ,I’ll believe. That,s like saying show me the wind I’ll believe. We don’t see the wind, but we accept that wind is there. Why? Because we see the signs of the wind.The branches of the trees move,the leaves rustle,and we say it’s the wind.Though we cant see God his signs are every where.Once I happened to be in Matara and went to a mosque (Bazaar mosque) for my evening prayers .It was dusk.Inside the Mosque there was a very sweet fragrance. The fragrance was overwhelming. I asked somebody who happened to be from the area as to who was wearing such strong perfume.To my astonishment he said that it was no perfume,but the fragrance of the flowers which was in the garden. He said it was called “Night Queen” and bloomed only in the night.It was a small white flower not so conspicuous. And then it struck me, that most night blooming flowers were white which is the most visible color in the dark.And the insects coming to pollinate it will not miss it.Even if they fail to see it the strong fragrance will bring the pollinating agents straight to the plant.Oh Lord I thank thee for showing me thy signs.

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    This country is for all of us

    Harry Belafonte – Island in the Sun

    This is my island in the sun
    Where my people have toiled since time begun
    I may sail on many a sea
    Her shores will always be home to me

    Oh, island in the sun
    Willed to me by my father’s hand
    All my days I will sing in praise
    Of your forest, waters,
    Your shining sand

    As morning breaks
    The heaven on high
    I lift my heavy load to the sky
    Sun comes down with a burning glow
    Mingles my sweat with the earth below

    Oh, island in the sun
    Willed to me by my father’s hand
    All my days I will sing in praise
    Of your forest, waters,
    Your shining sand

    I see woman on bended knee
    Cutting cane for her family
    I see man at the waterside
    Casting nets at the surging tide

    Oh, island in the sun
    Willed to me by my father’s hand
    All my days I will sing in praise
    Of your forest, waters,
    Your shining sand

    There is no place better than Sri Lanka if we learn to respect each other and live in harmony.

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    All the very good patriotic contributions are appearing in this site. Actually the learned and who have access to this will have the opportunity to clear their negative perceptions.

    On Sunday I saw a seriously touching article in a web site saying that during an event organized by the Police in Kandy Ulamas and BBS have compromised and walked hand in hand leaving behind certain bitter things during the recent past.

    Sadly from Monday, the day after the said event there appears new posters urging the us the Sinhalese to patronize only to Sinhala businesses, boycott Muslims business etc. and these hatred posters are still sitting on the walls nice and tidy.

    What I am puzzled is that if the Police were so keen in bringing about an amicable settlement towards co-existence and arranged such meeting between Ulamas and BBS how can these posters come up and sit there for over 3 days ???….

    If the Police were genuine their night patrols could have prevented them coming up specially busy places like Kandy Market area or at least they could have cleared them the very next day but nothing has been done to date why….?????

    The other comedy is that the BBS (Dollar Bala Sena)stalwarts who wanted to have Avurudu without Halal are not even in the country to celebrate Avurudu they are on a tour to USA to pluck Dollars from their main sponsors.

    Oh Loard Buddha bless this land with true monks to preach and promote your noble teachings in place of these rowdy dollar mongers.

    Harin S

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      Harin Sanjaya

      So you saw Sunday Sil and Monday kill.

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        Native
        from a reliable source,I got to know that sales at
        maharagama nolimit on the sinhala/tamil new year
        reached record high.Where do you put the BBS?
        Buddhists love Watalappans!

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    Is “Aramaya ” the right place to get the pulse of our poor inhabitants, the great majority of whom are battlers trying to make a living?.

    Shouldn’t this Lankan Parisian be pounding the pavement in places like Wellawatta to learn about Multiculturism?

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    It is said that ‘pirith chants’ are in the pali language and that the monks do not understand a word of what they say in a singsong voice for long periods.
    It is also said that the ‘calls to prayer and chants’ in/from the mosques are in the arabic language and that those who chant,or broadcast these by loudspeakers,do not understand most of what is said.

    Is there any point in saying/chanting anything which is not understood?
    Those who listen to these chants appear to gain some sort of mental satisfaction.

    Those who are not buddhists or muslims find these sounds a nuisance,especially over public address systems.

    Loud bell ringing in hindu temples and churches too,are a nuisance to non-hindus & non-christians in the vicinity.

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      The Muslims’ call for prayer does not go on for hours,The most would be five minutes.And every practising Muslims knows the meaning.

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    Western-style democracy will never work in the East. That is why Japan has a very tight immigration policy, even though the population is aging and shrinking and there is a demand for more workers. Even Singapore, despite its successes, has arcane punishments for people who throw a cigarette into the street. Then there are the Islamic nations like Indonesia and Malaysia, where the only “law” that matters is what a cleric or mufti says. So, while an Eastern Asian can catch up to the West economically – as Japan and South Korea have done – cultural and other barriers will always mean certain aspects of Western democracy are rejected. Diaspora activists like Kamaya Jayatissa – despite having good intentions – should use phrases like “rainbow nation” with caution. The goal of most Eastern nations is not to become a “melting pot” with perfect equality for everyone. Where a society is heading depends on its unique cultural predispositions.

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      You say “Then there are the Islamic nations like Indonesia and Malaysia, where the only “law” that matters is what a cleric or mufti says.” – all bull

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    Burqa and Niqab are not prescribed in the Koran or Islam – it is a cultural thing manipulated by Wahhabis – Taliban etc.. are muslims in SL so dumb to follow it.
    people say they are paid to wear it too.

    i cant imagine how fanatics can call others fanatics

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      Have you read and understood Quran before? Do not comment of something you don’t know. I suggest you that you better study Quran first and then come and comment here. Burqa or Niqab is something which has come from Prophet Muhammed’s (Sal) time and it came into practice after the below Ayah’s was revealed (Allah knows the best). Below is the Ayah

      “O Prophet! Tell your wives and your daughters and the women of the believers to draw their cloaks (veils) all over their bodies (i.e. screen themselves completely except the eyes or one eye to see the way). That will be better, that they should be known (as free respectable women) so as not to be annoyed. And Allaah is Ever Oft‑Forgiving, Most Merciful” [Al-Noor 24:31].

      Just because some people didn’t do it, it doesn’t mean that it was not revealed. People not following the religion properly is a common thing in all the religions, it doesn’t mean that the religion is wrong.

      In future when you come up with comments, pls make sure to write the correct thing. If you want to write something which is not true better write something which no one has any clue :P

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        Just because some people didn’t do it, it doesn’t mean that it was not revealed.

        Now you are saying the “God” also has a sense of fashion? Next you will tell us he shops at Odel.

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          @Lester
          You always distort the meaning of what a person says.
          You always distort what the Scripture says.
          You always distort what Science states.
          You cannot comprehend Mathematics
          You cannot comprehend what scriptures say
          You cannot comprehend what people say.
          You think you know what people say
          You think you know what Economists say.
          You think you know what laws of Science and Mathematics
          UNFORTUNATELY ALL OF US KNOW THAT YOU KNOW SweetFANNY ADAMS ABOUT ANYTHING AT ALL,

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            @ Jamal:

            Big words for someone who believes the Earth is flat and the World Trade Center was destroyed by a “controlled demolition.”

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              @Lester, by saying whatever you wish without addressing the issues properly only exposes yourself that you are a peerless ignoramus and also a matchless charlatan. The technical issues you raise sometimes ,although all inappropriate, gives one the impression that you wish to impress on the non technical readers of your expertise. This reminds me of the village schoolmaster in Goldsmiths poem …..While words of learned length and thund’ring sound. Amazed the gazing rustics rang’d around, And still they gaz’d, and … . At least the school master knew what he was talking about!!
              By the way the Qur’an does not say the earth is flat in shape. As for the controlled demolition, that is the only way to bring down a building on its FOOTPRINT.
              Log on to http://physics911.net/stevenjones/ to educate yourself.

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      Shiva -is it any skin off your nose if the Muslims women cover themselves? When someone tries to follow his religion to the letter he is labelled as a fanatic,an extremist,a fundamentalist.In Islam there is no moderation There is no moderate Muslim as some believe.If God says don’t drink. That’s it no more .Not even a drop.But some say,I drink but I don’t make any problem to anybody.Maybe some are yet lagging to carry out certain commands of God .May be God willing he will gradually come to follow all the commandments.The Quran was not revealed in one day.But on other hand , just because somebody cannot obey Gods law does not mean that God’s law is wrong.All the problem which takes place in the world is because people are so filled up with desires of the worldly gain and they want to enjoy life at any cost.The so called moderates.

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        If you cannot prove that God even exists, then what is the value of these so-called “revelations.” Unless you prove God exists, then there is no way to say that the “revelations” did not come from a source other than God .

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          If you don’t want to believe there is God.It is O.K.That’s up to you.Nobody is forcing you to accept God.I am a Muslim. Islam tells me.”No compulsion in religion”.You go your way.I’ll go mine.But there is death.No one conquers death.And there is a life after death.If there is no God,and no life after death,I have nothing to lose.But—-If there is a God,and life after death.I will be a winner if I had lived according to the commandments of God.Sorry. Can’t say the same for you. I am extremely sorry my vocabulary is limited.I cannot describe the taste of pudding to you .The proof of the pudding is in the eating.Wanna try some.

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    No BBS that time, it is an old news – CT

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