18 September, 2020

Blog

Before The 2015 General Elections

By Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

It has been a time of much confusion in our politics after January 8 but the fundamentals have been clear enough. We can of course have varying notions of what are the fundamentals. My first fundamental is that the time for the grand narrative is over. Most of us can hardly think nowadays in terms of an ideology and an accompanying program that is going to set everything right. The contemporary outlook, right across the globe, might be best described as political meliorism: identify what can be improved and try to effect that improvement. Probably meliorism in that sense has been at the root of the best politics right down the centuries except when a revolution is required. The most important dictum to remember in meliorist politics is that politics is the art of the possible.

Bearing all that in mind I would say that President Sirisena has done well enough considering particularly the very difficult position in which he was placed: the SLFP leader who came to power by grace of the UNP and backs a UNP minority Government while the SLFP has the Parliamentary majority, and so on. First of all by not compelling Rajapaksa to form another Party he has prevented the breakup of the SLFP and thereby he has been true to his mandate as SLFP leader. At the same time he has committed himself to the continuity of what many people see as the January 8 Revolution. It is arguable that as President he has shown the capacity to be true to his Party and also to transcend it to be true to the Nation. But we have to face up to the fact that he was not able to secure the resignation of the Governor of the Central Bank over the Treasury bond scam. At this point we must bear in mind what should be the second dictum of meliorist politics, the first being that politics is the art of the possible. The second is this: in politics the choice usually is not between the good and the bad, but between the bad and the worse. A Government headed by Ranil W may be bad. One headed by Rajapaksa would be worse.

ElectionThe fundamental problems on which we have to focus are those of the economy, democracy, and the ethnic problem. The economy does not pose much of a problem in regard to its basics because there is now a broad consensus, both locally and internationally, about them. The engine of growth has to be the private sector while the State has to play a regulatory role and also combine growth with equity. All that entails enormous problems of course. What I mean is that there is consensus between the two major parties on the basics, on how to handle the economy. Hardly anyone today wants to go back to the state-centric economy of the past. Differences of emphasis will continue: the SLFP may be more people-friendly because it has populism ingrained in it while the UNP could be more realistic on the economy but ruthless over claims of equity. But broadly there is a national consensus on the economy.

On the problem of democracy there is nothing like a national consensus. The surge of popular support for Rajapaksa in recent months shows the enduring appeal of what might be called racist neo-Fascism for a part of the Sinhalese Buddhist masses. This should be seen in the global perspective of the widening prevalence of identity politics. In Afro-Asian countries where democratic traditions are weak the turn to identity politics can slide into racist neo-Fascism. I will not attempt a definition of that term because such definitions are never definitive in the sense that they command universal assent. Instead I will jot down some points taken from an excellent account of what European Fascism meant in practice. The Fascist movements shared certain common features including the veneration of the state, a devotion to a strong leader, and an emphasis on ultranationalism, ethnocentrism, and militarism. Fascism viewed political violence, war, and imperialism as a means of achieving national rejuvenation, and asserted that superior nations and races should attain living space by displacing weak and inferior ones. I need not spell out to the reader how exactly all that fits the prominent features of the Rajapaksa regime, except for the out of context features of imperialism.

At the forthcoming General Elections the UNP may win but perhaps without a stable majority, or it may be an outright victory. In either case we can expect the appeal of racist neo-Fascism to continue among a segment of the Sri Lankan people. We have to try to eradicate it or at least contain it within a well-entrenched democracy. I have in mind the example set by India. The BJP had its ideological genesis in the RSS which was a far more extreme manifestation of identity politics than anything we have known in Sri Lanka under the rubric of Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. But the government of Vajpayee was a mild affair and although Modi is a far more redoubtable figure the potentially sinister forces behind him have been – at least up to now – been contained within India’s well-entrenched democracy. We have to hope for accommodation along those lines if the neo-Fascist appeal cannot be eradicated altogether.

The vicissitudes of Sri Lankan democracy have been far greater than those of India. There democracy broke down just for a couple of years under Indira’s Emergency, but has been dynamic for the rest of the time. Here democracy was nullified under JR and has been under fire during many periods. The determinant has been the civil society which has always been dynamic in India whereas here it became a door-mat under JR – mainly because he could be forgiven anything for having brought us colour TV – and was rather like a zombie for most of the time. But it made an impressive contribution to the January 8 Revolution. The lesson to be drawn is that in Sri Lanka the most important component of democracy is not a separation of powers or anything like that but a dynamic civil society. Its dynamism augurs well for our democratic future.

Should the UNP and Ranil W come to power with a stable majority the situation should be more propitious for a political solution of the ethnic problem than for a long time. There is a note of moderation in statements from the TNA and even more from the GTF. But the signals are confusing because Chief Minister Wigneswaran has been striking belligerent postures that have provoked the ire of the Opposition in particular. In this situation we must bear certain fundamentals in mind. One is that a fully functioning democracy of the sort that prevails in the West is essential for a solution. Our Tamils insist on a wide measure of devolution, which will inevitably spawn centre/periphery problems of a very troublesome order. Such problems cannot be handled smoothly without a spirit of democratic accommodativeness and trust on both sides.

There will never be a solution to the ethnic problem in practice unless there is a high level of trust on both sides. I believe that that high level of trust can best be promoted if the ethnic problem is handled in terms of a paradigm of racism. I have written several articles on that paradigm, so that I can be brief about it here. There are two reasons of fundamental importance behind the failure to achieve a solution up to now. The Tamils believe that the Sinhalese will never give fair and equal treatment to them on an enduring basis. The Sinhalese believe that the Tamils will never give up the quest for Eelam. Behind both those beliefs is the essentializing habit of mind that is at the core of racism. Unless the racist mind-set that is behind such beliefs is destroyed we can hardly expect to establish ethnic harmony in any worthwhile sense.

Note – The last three sentences of the earlier version of the article above was mistakenly edited out . We apologize to our readers and to the author

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Latest comments

  • 2
    2

    Kettikaran, Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam, Bensen Berner, backlash, Rajash, Old Yarlppanathan, Alex, …………………………….

    Where are you?

    • 5
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      Naive Vedda,

      “The Tamils believe that the Sinhalese will never give fair and equal treatment to them on an enduring basis.”

      I ask this ‘genius’ Izeth Hussain: Have any of the Sinhalese unitary governments since independence ever given fair treatment to Tamils?

      Tamils were subjected to state sponsored pogroms after pogroms whenever they asked for equal rights that Sinhalese enjoyed.

      They deprived many rights including citizenship, property and the right to life culminating in the genocidal onslaught in Mullivaaikkaal.

      Tamils have all reasons to believe that Sinhalese will never be fair to the Tamils if they govern Tamils.

      This anti-Tamil racist goes on propagating some myths as truths!

    • 3
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      All the names Native Vedda mentions are Tamil except for one whose ethnicity has not been identifiable. The exception is Bensen Berner. But he/she has not been insulting.All the rest have been extremely insulting. All Tamils, not a single Sinhalese. How come? There must be a story there. – IH

      • 3
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        “There must be a story there.”

        Please don’t use that as an excuse to write again. You must learn to leave the stage when your time is up. Leave it for the young folks. Don’t hog the limelight just because you have too much time in your hands.

        • 1
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          Robert R – I will certainly write again, I will be published, and I will be read – including by you. As for leaving the stage, the time for that surely has not come considering an encomium from Fr SJ Emmanuel,Dr Devanesan Nesiah declaring that he agrees with 99% of what I write, and the internationally eminent Pierre-Andre Taguieff getting a Latin American Phd student to read a 2014 article of mine. No wonder you say I am in the limelight! As for hogging it – it’s the Editor who decides what to publish, not I – and certainly not insignificant nonentities like you who won’t even dare declare their names.You are a right proper Bubbiya. – IH

          • 4
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            Thanks for your comments, only proves that you are so full of yourself and self praise.

            You sound like another broken record Dayan who also is full of self praise.

            Yes, CT will publish and that’s good, freedom of expression. Yes, I will read it for entertainment and also to expose you.

            • 1
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              Robert R – self-praise? Fr Emmanuel, Dr Nesiah, and Taguieff are not myself, they are others. I am citing them. How can that be self-praise? How can any one take you seriously?- IH

              • 2
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                Well you are citing their praise of you, that is self praise !
                A strong man does not need others praise but the fact that you cite others shows that you are a weakling looking here and there for praise.

                I also want to suggest that given most of your life is behind you, you should leave the stage to those younger whose life is in front of them. Your old racist and narrow minded ways are what has led us to this state. Now let us try something different.

                If you do what you always do you will get what you always got. The time is ripe to leave old timers like you and try something different. If we try the same things you tried then we will be going around in circles.

                • 0
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                  Come come Robert R – praise by others is not self-praise.If you cannot acknowledge that fact, you cannot be taken seriously. – IH

              • 1
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                My dear Izeth,

                Someday, very soon hopefully, you may increase your fans besides that eternal trio Nesiah, Fr. Emmanuel and Taguieff that you quote ad nauseam. That’ll be the day.

                Backlash

                • 0
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                  Backie – those eminent names suffice and more than suffice. You are not eminent. – IH

      • 4
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        Izeth Hussain,

        Because the Sinhalese have left it to the BBS and Gnanasaras to deal with Muslims and turncoats like you, who is basically singing the tune of the masters who are still paying in your retirement.

      • 3
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        Here is the story:
        Once upon a time there was an old idiot who went round talking nonsense. When people told him that he is behaving in a stupid manner, he started hurling abuse at them. Due to his old age, his brain had got demented which prevented him from seeing reason. Despite people in good faith tried to correct him, this imbecile was continuing to unleash insults on them. As people could not tolerate him any further, one good soul, gave him a thundering body treatment which permanently silenced him. All lived happily thereafter without any hassle from this good for nothing codger.

        NB: Latest news is that he is in hell with 72 virgins around.

        • 1
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          A typical performance by Dr Gna. Not one fact refuted,not one argument countered. Just hysterical abuse. A perfect illustration of my characterisation of Tamil racist attacks on me as “hysterical hatred and mad dog rage”. He goes to the extent of imagining me as being permanently silenced by “thundering body treatment”. A mad dog is foaming at the mouth. I recall that in the early stages of the Tamil concerted attacks against me I used the phrase “a total annihilating hatred”. Quite apposite, surely.
          But Dr Gna is serving my purposes. No Sinhalese attack on me has ever matched his one for sheer mad dog rage. I will be writing an article to show that Tamil racism is much worse than Sinhalese racism. In conclusion I must repeat that Dr Gna is intellectually scum. Morally he is utter scum – I will give the reasons if challenged. – IH

        • 0
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          his comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2/

      • 1
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        Izeth Hussain

        You have still not confirmed whether you are a Chunni, Shiat, jhihadi, bhai,malay, kadiri, the modern Koja etc., Muslim.

        You seems to be one step further than the Muslims – a real fermented sambar or biriyani.

      • 0
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        Izeth Hussain

        “All the names Native Vedda mentions are Tamil except for one whose ethnicity has not been identifiable.:

        One hypothesis is that They All are Fallen Tamil Angels ( After LTTE) now called Tamil Iblis, Shaitans, Satans, Devils, Mara.

        This hypothesis goes a long way. ..to Judaism, Christianity and Islam,,

        The Origins of Shaytan Iblis The Devil in Islam

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JRJu9lUFBZE

    • 1
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      Dear Native Veddah,

      I have more useful things to do than to go after trash. As I and several others have written earlier, the man has “gone over” sometime
      ago. From the usual garbage of racism now to local politics. Clearly, the man has seen the writing on the wall relying entirely in his pet fetish – racist-centric articles. His backers in The Island have probably advised him to turn course. Not bad counselling.

      How about this for pure and unbridled audacity – “Don’t provoke me.
      I will hit” And, he thinks he is an outstanding intellectual???

      Kettikaran

      • 0
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        No time to respond properly to our Kettie, the most outstanding specimen of the Tamil lunatic fringe anti-Muslim racists. I therefore adapt a couplet of Dryden
        Others to some faint meaning make pretense,
        But Kettie never deviates into sense.
        Kettie recently predicted that I would be dying soon, and that I would die in a state of anger. No Sinhalese racist can match that.At my very advanced age I could go at any time. But Kettie is in such a state that he is actually hoping for my death. As for the anger, my dear Kattie, on the night before I was enchanted by a sizzling brilliant performance of the Debussy Iberia conducted by Claudio Abbado. You see Kettie, I may be in a state of anger when I reply to you. That is like going to the toilet. Thereafter I rise to the heights, which I am sure you can’t, you nonentity who won’t dare declare his name. – IH

        • 3
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          “Whom the gods would destroy, they first make mad” – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’

          This is certainly true in this case.

        • 3
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          Hussain Nana,

          Be assured “I am not hoping for your death” – if that gives you any comfort. The truth is we need a weirdo to provide us with
          regular entertainment in this depressing world and in that respect you are almost indispensable. Death, after all, is inevitable and comes to all of us. BTW, in your own words, I note you reach your “heights” when you go to the toilet. Man, you need to see your shrink, pronto.

          Kettikaran

          • 0
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            Kettie thambi – your racist hatred prevents you getting anything right. I descend to the level of the toilet only when I deal with you and the likes of you.At that point I can experience anger. Later I rise well above it, which I am sure you can’t.Last night I heard an utterly beautiful version of Francois Couperin’s Premiere Lecon, even better than the version I had in the ‘fifties with Hugues Cuenod in the lead.
            This morning I was reading the poems of Elizabeth Jennings. Very fine but not of the first intensity. I can demonstrate that by an analysis of her rhythms. To the reader – The point of the cultural showmanship is this – It is the fact that I don’t fit into the stereotype of the Nana that drives these Tamil racists to mad dog rage. – IH

            • 1
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              Instead of constant anger, abuse and controversy with which your name is associated with in these pages, I would rather suggest
              you look at life differently at this evening of your life – in peace, friendship and love as did Robert Frost. I share with you the beloved poet’s immortal words :-

              The woods are lovely, dark and deep
              I have promises to keep
              and miles to go before I sleep

              Frost saw life (woods) and its wondrous gifts (lovely) its mysteries and complexities (dark and deep) and yet lived in peace, in harmony and usefully before he was called to his sleep.

              As to you, good Sir, I sincerely hope the time for you to sleep will be many years from now. Until that time here’s hoping you will remain strong and healthy to engage us and amuse us – not abuse and curse us on those occasions we disagree with you.

              Cheers

              Kettikaran

    • 0
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      Native Vedda

      Why didn’t you include my name.

      You are scared of me aren’t you? You are scared for my bullet firing shots.

      Thank you for this.

  • 5
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    A cow regurgitate its food. This piece reads like Izeth is doing the same.

  • 3
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    Your are right Mr. Hussein. The fact is that the JVP will be the big winner in this situation because the Sinhala voter – particularly younger generation – knows the truth about the UNP and SLFP corruption – the Central bank insider trader Arjuna Mahendran being a prime example of UNP corruption.

    CPA election survey is biased and useless because it makes no mention of the JVP which will be the third force among SInhala voters and the younger generation.

    Civil society will need to work on Democratization and REFORM OF POLITICAL PARTIES and democratization and cleaning up of political parties after the elections – to deepen democracy.

    1. New rules and regulations on GOOD GOVERNANCE within Political Parties need to be tabled in a NEW CONSTITUTION for Sri Lanka,
    2. preventing the cross over culture for the highest bidder in a Parliament,
    3. minimal education and moral standards for politicians
    4. Full assets and liabilities disclosure
    A chapter on political parties will need to be included in the new Constitution of Sri Lanka- this is a global trend to reform and democratize political parties which are the root of the problem of rotten political culture and leadership in Sri Lanka.

    Because of Sri Lanka’s rotten political party culture and leadership, the voters is presented with a choice between 2 evils – a greater or lesser evil – but evil nevertheless.. Ranil WIckramasinghe is an educated and corrupt DICTATOR in the UNP who has lost countless elections and MR the corrupt and uneducated dictator of the SLFP who has won countless elections.JVP will be the big gainer at the 2015 general election.

  • 0
    3

    Izeth Hussain,

    I have heard there is some progress on the Guru Bawa Centre issue in Chaati, Mankumpaan. I will let you and the readers know, when the feeding program resumes.

    Dr.RN

    • 0
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      Dr RN – Thanks.Please keep me informed. – IH

  • 6
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    Not once have you mentioned the word “Muslim” in this Article. Well done! Keep it up. That will be a big favour for the Muslim community.

    • 0
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      Ahmed Reza – Your response to my last article was irrelevant as it did not take up any point I made.Your present response is insulting.Don’t provoke me. I will hit. – IH

      • 3
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        Boo Hoo lol I am sure we are all scared !

        One should know to retire gracefully when the time comes (I am also looking at you MR and CBK)

        You certainly are way past your sell by date, best let the young write, its our future, you belong in the past with your racism and narrow mindedness.

        • 1
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          Robert.R

          Insult where insult is due.

      • 2
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        Izeth Hussain

        You ‘will hit’ or hit back.

        ‘Will hit’ is jhihadi crusade of one sided violence. Hit back is a defensive posture.

        We know who you are. You must be subscribing to the ISIS crusade.

      • 4
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        I never asked you to respond to any of my comments to any of your Articles. My comments were sent in the hope you would shut up.

        Although I have not doubted your intention to serve the “Muslim Cause”, in so doing, your propensity to put the foot in the mouth has served as fodder for that virulent anti Muslim segment of the CT readership. Your style of writing, inability to expound one complete thought in one article, without the need to continue into Part 2 and Part 3 and on and on, has been your undoing. The resulting disconnects have helped the anti Muslim segment of CT readership to heap on us shame and ridicule. For proof, count the thumbsdown against the thumbsup. Over 75% cannot be evil, unless you consider yourself a Messiah.

        Your outburst “I will hit” has only demonstrated your egocentricity and blindness to all else outside of you. Muslims do not need a friend like you. We ask just one favour: please, please do not write for us or about us in the future. Thank you.

        • 0
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          Sorry Ahmed Reza- I have to punish you. You say that my inability to complete one thought in one article has been my undoing. That’s an utterly bizarre idea. The content of a newspaper article is usually limited. But some subjects are complex and require more space.That is why many articles going into more than one part appear in the Island and elsewhere. No one else seems to have had your bizarre idea.
          How have my three-part articles been my undoing? Consider the following facts relating to my articles over a period of just one year. I started receiving encomiums, mostly from Tamils, including one from Fr SJ Emmanuel head of the GTF. An expatriate magazine in Canada published two of my articles in Tamil translation. A think-tank offered to publish my 24-part articles on the SL Muslims in book form. Some weeks ago Dr Devanesan Nesiah, who got a doctorate in the US for his thesis on racism, declared in an article that he was in agreement with 99% of what i wrote. More recently I have been informed that the internationally eminent theorist on racism Pierre-Andre Taguieff got a Brazilian Phd student to read a 2014 article of mine. Does all that show that I have been undone?
          As for the Tamil racist attacks on me, the facts are as follows. The concerted attacks against me stopped long ago. Since then a very few Tamil racists – for the most part Kettie joined occasionally by one or two others – have been attacking me. They are pathetic and insignificant. Their quality can be gauged by Gr Gna’s latest outburst in which he imagines me being killed after a violent attack.
          Ahmed Reza, it is obvious that your attacks against me have been motivated by envious hatred.You must recognize that I have not been harsh in punishing you. But don’t provoke me again. I will hit harder. It will hurt. – IH

          • 1
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            Izeth,

            Dont you know the damage you are doing to yourself by not knowing when to shut up? The rambling garbage you churn out is the result of your very poor thinking skills and atrocious writing skills; your convoluted explanations that the subjects you wrote about were complicated is just poppycock. [Edited out]

            • 0
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              My Dear Ahmed Reza, by my sober statement of facts and sober argument I have given you a whacking from which you can’t recover.You haven’t even tried to question any of my facts or refute any of my arguments. You can’t. Therefore you resort to abuse – garbage, poppycock etc. No wonder the Editor ha edited out part of what you wrote. If you give vent to your envious hatred again I will have no alternative to punishing you again.So – Don’t. – IH

  • 0
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    “Our Tamils”

    Nice to see the usage and development/Change. Thank you.

  • 1
    1

    I have been a fierce critic of IH in the past and do not always agree with his commentaries. However, in this instance I must congratulate him on succintly analysing the current situation in SL as follows:

    “There are two reasons of fundamental importance behind the failure to achieve a solution up to now. The Tamils believe that the Sinhalese will never give fair and equal treatment to them on an enduring basis. The Sinhalese believe that the Tamils will never give up the quest for Eelam. Behind both those beliefs is the essentializing habit of mind that is at the core of racism. Unless the racist mind-set that is behind such beliefs is destroyed we can hardly expect to establish ethnic harmony in any worthwhile sense.”

    Well put, IH!

  • 2
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    greetings Izeth Hussain

    My dear learned country man and rest of the tamils.

    I wish to point out a matter which hurt my heart.

    Tamil is a language orginated from India, also we got tamil
    Speaking people in Sri Lanka.

    I got lot of tamil friends in India who are muslims, even the
    late president Abdul Kalam is also a Tamil who is a muslim.

    Abdul Kalam made the Tamil language rich, he made tamil
    Reconised as oldest language as Saintscript.

    It is very incorrect to say that tamils have problem with muslims.
    The known fact is we have several different language groups following
    Muslim religion. One example is Malai Muslims. There mother language is
    Malai. We also have Arabic and other groups of people in Sri Lanka.

    The Christian tamils have different Sub culture as muslims, eating habits such as
    Beef and so. Even in Hindu tamils we have different Sub. Culture.

    If we differentiate in this Sub Culture to protect our life style and then we Can end up
    In all kinds of differences.

    If we could see the similarities we could unite as one people.

    In Sri Lanka we could for example say prowdly I am Muslim Bramin, but in India the bramins are devided in to several race some are excempted to do prayers in the big temples. Same way we talk about one Muslim rays in Sri Lanka but in Arabic countries there are wars because people are devided between Shia and Sunni. Even people are not allowed to Marry between Shia and Sunni.

    By saying bad things about a community is rediculars. A social cultural behaviour patern Can be changed if enough effort is given to improve the behaviour of these people and willingness to change. The Core values are difficult to change so local adaption needs to be made, example the Christianity in Sri Lanka has some retuals related to local traditions similary the Christianity in Russia has its local traditions.

    • 1
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      Thanks Yoga – there are differences between SL Tamils and Muslims. We mustn’t ignore that fact. There are also commonalities between them . We mustn’t ignore that fact either. I am interested in the figure of Guru Bawa who had both a Muslim and a Tamil following.I am told that he was originally a Tamil who was far advanced as a yogi. He then became a Muslim because some aspects of Hinduism are very close to Islam. A Muslim friend who is well versed in these matters tells me that his Tamil mystical poetry is of high quality. Would he be comparable to Kabir in India. No one knew whether he was Muslim or Hindu. Abul Kalam was a Tamil Muslim who was universalist. He should be our role model. – IH

  • 3
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    Izeth Hussain / Dr Rajasingham Natendran

    Please watch the video news in today’s Lankasri Tamil webpage under ” tense situation in Kalmunai – people protest against Nisam Kariappar” to find out how Muslim mayor of Kalmunai acts against Tamils living there. This is a continuing episode with no end in sight but Izeth Hussain keeps his eyes closed and think the whole world remains dark like the cat in Tamil saying.

    Let us hear the views of both.

  • 0
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    Greetings againIzeth Hussain

    Guru baba is a muslim he was visiting kataragama and exploring different religious aspects.
    He learned about Hindu sastra and retuals.

    He is a Sufi religious philosopher aswell as he had Extra ordinary powers, people went to him related to sickness, mental sickness, religious guidence.

    When I meet him with my father he was a man followed by lots of people well to do crowd in Colombo, at that time he had come to Colombo from USA. He had lot of speaches, songs and people felt that they found meaning or understanding of life, birth and death. I understood rich Indian pasi type people accomerdated him since they had big houses and people could visit him.

    If you contact these families in Colombo you will get more information.

    My father found peace in his Soul and relaxed in his gathering, his speaches were highly rich. I was a small boy at that time so I dont remember much about it.

    Here is a link I found about him:
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bawa_Muhaiyaddeen

    • 0
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      Yoga – thanks – fascinating material in Wikipedia. The SL Muslims have a rich tradition of saints going back over the centuries. But Guru Bawa seems to be the only one who has crossed the religious divides, and the only one to get an international reputation. I must learn more about him. – IH

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