18 November, 2019

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Counter Potential For Anti Muslim Actions Through Education Campaign

By Jehan Perera

Jehan Perera

The wounds inflicted upon the body politic by the Easter Sunday bombing continue to fester and become more poisonous. They are not going away as might have been hoped for, and as might have been expected, in a country where much is eventually swept under the carpet to be forgotten by all except the victims. This increasingly looks like the fate of those who died or went missing in the three decade long ethnic war. The much debated transitional justice process, dealing with the human rights violations that took place during that period, which was being pushed forward by initiatives from the international community, appears to be derailed at this time with political attention shifting to the Easter Sunday bombings and its fallout.

Two months after the six deadly bomb blasts that claimed the lives of 255 persons, polarization between the country’s ethnic and religious communities continues to grow at a rapid pace. Even local government institutions are being subjected to division, with Tamils and Sinhalese joining hands in the eastern town of Kalmunai to demand an equal local government to match the one currently dominated by Muslims. The highest ranking religious clergy are not immune to this polarization that has the capacity to misguide them away from more universal values they are expected to uphold. One of the prelates has recently called for an economic boycott of Muslim businesses. He has even said that the stoning to death of suspected offenders on the other side of the divide, who are suspected to have engaged in illegal practices that are suspected to have cost many thousands of potential lives, is something that needs to happen.

It all sounds so irrational but it is deadly serious because mind is the forerunner of all states of being, and if we believe in absurdities we will be capable of atrocities. This includes mass riots and crimes against communities. These have happened in Sri Lanka and they have happened elsewhere. In Rwanda, people were described as cockroaches and a million were eliminated in a few days because they belonged to another ethnic community though they shared the same religion. Ten years after the end of the end of Sri Lanka’s three decade long war, Sri Lankans thought that our hard earned peace would be sustained. But it collapsed in the debris of the Easter Sunday bombing of Christians by Muslim extremists which had no internal logic.

Past Evidence 

Today we are reminded in different ways how close we are to the brink. A colleague recounted this morning that a traffic policeman who apprehended him had also warned him that there was intelligence information of a possible attack, though it was not specified what type of attack or where. There was supposed to be a larger presence of police on the ground on Sunday as a result, but there was no attack. If another bomb were indeed to go off, and take with it many lives, there could be a sudden descent into chaos. An acquaintance referred to the discovery of many swords in the places of worship and homes of Muslims which boded ill for the rest of the country. He spoke about the violent practice in Muslim countries of chopping off the limbs of those convicted of wrong doing.

Not content with stopping at the issue of swords in the present day, my acquaintance also referred back two millennia to the time of the great Buddhist kingdoms of India and to the ancient Buddhist university at Nalanda which was looted, burned and utterly destroyed by invading Muslims who also slayed thousands of Buddhist monks. He had no good faith or trust in the goodwill of Muslims towards the Buddhists. On the contrary there is the irrational fear that continues to remain deeply entrenched in the psyche of many people, such that eating the food prepared by Muslims can be dangerous on account of infertility drugs introduced to render the non-Muslims sterile and unable to reproduce their communities.

Indeed, I have noted that when I express my conviction that it is not possible for a single doctor to sterilize thousands of women in the course of Caesarian operations most of those I address remain dead silent, which makes me wonder if they think it is indeed possible and the truth. The government has appointed an investigation committee comprising medical specialists in the field but there are protest marches being organized saying this is not enough. I say that I am sure that the story of the doctor sterilizing women is implausible because he would be in the midst of teams of doctors and nurses who would be observing every step of the Caesarian procedure. But I am aware that my audience may be rejecting my views.

Urgent Need

The tragedy is that this situation of polarization, mistrust and hateful speech is likely to get worse and not better. There are two reasons for this. One reason is that business rivalries at both local and national level make it advantageous to spread misinformation that causes economic boycotts by one community on the other, even at though it adds to the hatred and mistrust on both sides of the divide. The second reason is that the country is careening into election mode where each side is preparing to win by any means possible including whipping up inter-religious and inter-ethnic hatred. This accords with the long observed strategy of politicians who promote such negative sentiments because that can yield the harvest of votes that politicians so greedily want to prevail at elections.

In these deeply troubled circumstances it is incumbent upon the rational elements in civil society to try and fill in the vacuum of a speedy mass education campaign that the government and political leadaers of all parties should be carrying out but are not. In particular, Muslim civil society needs to come out and publicly affirm that they do not subscribe to the agenda of the Islamic State-affiliated bombers when Sri Lanka is their home. Not once or twice, but all the time until the crisis ends as it will. There is a special need to advertise widely that swords were found in only two out of several thousand mosques, and that it is not true that they were found in a large number of mosques. The canard about infertility inducing drugs being found in food distributed by Muslims needs to be similarly exposed.

The millions and billions of rupees that business companies spend on their advertising campaigns need to be devoted to this more urgent and needed purpose. They need to be advertised and broadcast on multiple news channels and in both print and electronic media. It needs to be powerful enough to counter the political and social media campaigns of those who seek to widen the rift between the communities for their own purposes. This mass education campaign will need to be carried out at least until the presidential and general elections are completed and a new government leadership comes to power that, hopefully, will have the moral vision and credibility to speak the truth and counter the untruths that now dominate the thinking of the masses of people. Until this happens, Sri Lanka will be walking a tightrope between peace and chaos, which may be just a bomb blast away.

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Latest comments

  • 5
    0

    Lonely voice with sincerity but as he himself says will be met by deadly silence. So pathetic Sri Lanka

  • 6
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    No Sri Lankan leader throughout our history has pushed for, or practiced, policies that would unite this country, instead it was always policies that divided us for their own selfish political agendas. Even today, you can see the Buddhist leaders cater to the Buddhist vote by ignoring the attacks on minorities, and showing indifference even when shops, homes, and places of worship, are attacked. Unity must be instilled from Grade one, and children taught that the nation is far richer, when there is diversity, and that other religions must be acceptable, and part of, the rich Sri Lankan culture. We have to learn respect for others, from our childhood days, and make sure we do not end up with ignorant adults who easily believes the ridiculous stories of sweets being “charmed” to make the Sinhalese women barren. Politicians seem to care for their own pockets, and power, and could not care less about uniting this fractured country.

  • 2
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    all are cheating the Buddhists. Bhikkus can not talk and must only when they were asked to. Sinhala culture is being destroyed with liquor, drugs, and undisciplined people.
    govt is oppressing sinhala people and sinhala cuture with the ministry of Reconciliation, Language unification and other BS.
    On the other hand, some one is brain washing Politicians to talk about National questions, People as sinhala, Tamil and muslims. Schools are conducted as separate ethnic groups. That is all against anti-re-conciliatory. Prominent politicians are only for power. Mahinda Rajapakse and Ranil were at the fore front, Maithripala sirisena is not much different.

    • 0
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      JD, Sinhalese, or Buddhist monks did not fast unto death to close down the liquor shops (because they themselves cannot live without it). I will be glad to see monks fighting to close down the liquor stores (as Buddhism does condone drinking and drugs). Fight drug trafficking like in Philippines. Without standing for what you believe you create a monster and infer they are trying to take you down.

  • 1
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    Tara: You say: “Unity must be instilled from Grade I…..” I agree. But how long it will take from Grade I to many years of learning. Even if it counts to decades, it is good. But, all these “Political Vagabonds” in operation today, are not of yesterday’s learning. On average all of them (at Parliamentary & Local) would have had their education a couple of decades ago. Say 20 to 30 years ago, our education was not based on these types of “Ethnic Divide”. In schools, there were students of all communities sitting in one class and learning the stipulated stipulated subjects. Now the question is: Who brought this “DIVIDE”? The answer: Those very students who have leaned on a “Common” stream, who today “Acquired” the power to “Govern”. Just look at some of the “Leaders” who passed their age of 60 years of life and learning. Who are they and what have they done and for what? So long as this “SYSTEM” is continued without a complete overhaul , even the Grade I of today’s learning will have no other :CHOICE” but to forget the learning and some how “FIT” into the wheel that keeps turning on 24-7 basis. If not they know they have no future. So what is NEEDED is some capable and a determined group of people to replace all these “GANGS” of present day political bastards(of religious; ethnic, colours etc) and make that “CHANGE”. This rotten, decayed and stinking cesspit must be emptied and a new scheme must be installed. As otherwise no ESCAPE.

  • 0
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    ” This (Sweeping under the carpet) increasingly looks like the fate of those who died or went missing in the three decade long ethnic war. “ Jehan PhD personally went to UNHRC to defeat Tamils call for investigation. Is that Crocodile tears? Jehan PhD advised to the Appe Aanduwa to get the help of Lord Naseby, a paid performer of Lankawe, to defeat Tamils on their call for instigation.

    Muslim Ministers went with Jehan PhD to UNHRC and witnessed there that there was no life for Muslims under anybody like the one they had under Old Royals(, because Sinhala Cinema supporting actresses were sent along with this ministers). So Jehan PhD thought that Muslim-Sinhala government has to be blessed by Buddha for the rest of the 2500 years of the perceived Lankawe history. But already for the first time in Lankawe history, last few days, there were no Muslim ministers in the government. Muslim ministers refused to take bribes, but demanding for their rights (other than two). Here goes Jehan PhD ” Even local government institutions are being subjected to division, with Tamils and Sinhalese joining hands in the eastern town of Kalmunai to demand an equal local government to match the one currently dominated by Muslims. ” PhD is asking how can Tamils ask for something equivalent with Muslims have? How can some Sinhalese support for that? That is why Jehan PhD does not like Monks today and writing up this criticism.

    But he likes them a lot on the day when he took them with Rapist Army to Jaffna University to Teach the Tamils student about lesson of Religious reconciliation. Then he wrote if they had not sitting and listen to his conversion lectures, they did know what would be their fate!

  • 1
    1

    Here what Jehan PhD writing on the above: “Indeed, I have noted that when I express my conviction that it is not possible for a single doctor to sterilize thousands of women in the course of Caesarian operations most of those I address remain dead silent, which makes me wonder if they think it is indeed possible and the truth.” Is Jahan PhD expecting us too to be silent and believe his hypocrisy? Not at all. He just has to finish his money’s worth job. That’s all. But in reality, he even doesn’t believe himself. . Here he goes” “But I am aware that my audience may be rejecting my views.” When writing his mockery preaching, Jehan PhD never bothered about people trusting him. He, now, sees it is too late to fix the people’s problem with his writing. He just wants to forget about it and keep dumping more rubbish.
    All NGOs got the donation and kept pocketing without doing one useful thing. CPA, NPC, PAFREL…. But Nimalka was trying to do something at least for Sinhalese. So Old Brother Prince did his best to chase her out of the country (even to murder). Jehan PhD said Old Brother Prince was willing to work with NGOs. Precise time got wasted by Jehan PhD’s equivocal, double meaning talks. Now the season is fall well passed and mid of the winter. Jehan is PhD running around and looking for a toilet to down load. But it is too late. Here he goes: “The millions and billions of rupees that business companies spend on their advertising campaigns need to be devoted to this more urgent and needed purpose. They need to be advertised and broadcast on multiple news channels and in both print and electronic media. It needs to be powerful enough to counter the political and social media campaigns “ Ha ha ha ha…… How late Jehan PhD? When you read this Ranil may have resigned or even New King might have quit.

  • 0
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    Country will go the same way yogoslavia went, but in the long run it will be better.

  • 0
    2

    if Shri Lanka was a land with least litracy and education , then can try to educate the people.

    You can wake people asleep but how do you wake those who prentend to sleep.
    As long as we don’t have a constitution with majority rights gauranteed while Minority rights a protected and every single politician, including provincial Council members are answerable to the parliment and 100% tranperancy .
    We all will remain eternal as milking Cows.

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