28 November, 2020

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Ethnoreligious Nationalism & The Crisis Of Muslim Leadership

By Salithamby Abdul Rauff

Dr. Salithamby Abdul Rauff

Dr. Salithamby Abdul Rauff

Ultra ethno-religious nationalism, government ignorance and betrayal of own leadership disturb the existence of Muslims in Sri Lanka

The Muslim ethnic minority of Sri Lanka has been facing an existential threat today that the community has ever encountered in recent times. The history points to that Muslim community of the country has been sporadically vulnerably targeted by recurrently surfacing ultra ethno-religious nationalism (whether Sinhala-Buddhist one incubated by those in political power or Tamil one actively practiced by Tamil militancy (LTTE) at the time of armed conflict in the country), ignored by governments and equally betrayed by their political leadership also when the leadership prioritised filling its own pockets and stomachs with perks and posts from successive governments at the expense of its people’s interests.

In 1987, when India’s and Sri Lanka’s governments signed an Indo-Lanka accord to settle Sri Lanka’s prolonged ethnic question, Muslims the second largest ethnic minority in the country after Tamils were systematically ignored by Sri Lanka’s government in the accord submerging their existence, aspirations, interests and problems under the guise of Tamil-speaking people. When Muslim community went to their political leaders for this injustice, leaders of the time were unreasonably muted.

In 1990s, when ultra Tamil nationalism pursued with Kalashnikovs by Tamil Tigers in the north and east carried out an ethnic cleansing against Muslim community forcibly expelling tens of thousands of Muslims from the north despite the north being Muslims’ traditional homeland too, when the same Tamil nationalism massacred Muslims in the east at homes, mosques, rice fields and markets, the government of Sri Lanka simply disregarded its inherent obligation of protecting these innocent Muslims from these painful events. The response of Muslim political leaders to this vulnerability against their own community was nothing but some senseless rhetoric.

In 2002, when the LTTE that was led by ultra Tamil nationalist forces who never accepted the existence of Muslims particularly in the North and East and Sri Lanka’s government led by Ranil Wickremesinghe began peace talks to end the decades of armed conflict and settle the country’s prolonged national ethnic question, the government systematically denied Muslims their rightful position at talks to represent themselves simply yielding to a demand from LTTE not to recognise Muslims as a separate entity at talks. When Muslims who became frustrated by this went to their political leadership for this ignorance, Muslim political leadership that was key political partner of Ranil’s government holding at least four key portfolios in his cabinet could not get government to accept Muslims as an independent group in the talks. The leadership rather than winning a separate delegation for its people misled its community falsely claiming that the leader participated at talks as a separate representative of Muslim community even though every Muslim in the country was well aware that he was representing the government itself at talks and that therefore he could not address the problems and legitimate aspirations of his community at talks independently.

In Rajapaksa regime, ultra Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism emerged in various forms as organisations such as BBS and Sinhala Ravaya in the country. Extremist Buddhist monks who publicly sowed anti-Muslim sentiment across the country led these organisations. When this ethno-religious nationalism targeted Muslims, destroyed their businesses and attacked their mosques and desecrated them smearing the blood of pig forbidden in Islam on mosque walls and putting its head inside mosques, the government instead of thwarting this infamous nationalism that could plunge the country into another ruin granted every access for it to continue its work against Muslims. Sadly, the role of Muslim political leaders in this was merely spectator.

Today, in the good governance of Maithripala Sirisena, the same ethno-religious nationalism continues unabated in another form of Sinha-Le. The nationalism calls on the good governance to outlaw slaughtering cow, and re-draw the existing national flag of the country removing the symbols that represent the existence of minorities in the country. The government still remains unresponsive over this despite it having unequivocally understood dire consequences of this call. On their part, Muslim political leaders repeat what they were in the past as just betrayers in addressing the issues affecting their community.

Today, the country under Sirisena –Ranil government is preparing to bring a new constitution to accommodate interests and aspirations of all communities in the country by a viable political arrangement. At this crucial juncture, Muslim political leaders rather than seriously studying the matter to submit suitable recommendations to be incorporated into the proposed constitution for their people are extremely busy distributing patronages they acquired from government, appointing their cronies and followers to their party national list, departments and other executive boards under their respective ministries offered by the government for betraying community.

Now that various discussions and debates concerning the upcoming constitution are being held by those from other communities, particularly Tamils in the country and abroad, The ACMC party leader and minister Rishard bathiudeen recently announced that he was ready to work with the SLMC leader and minister Rauff Hakeem together on issues and other important matters associated with Muslim community for its interests. Hakeem had summarily rejected Risard’s invitation. The SLMC leader in his reasons for rejecting said that he did find any need to work jointly with one who got opportunity in politics by him and his party (SLMC) and made him Muslim political leader. The leader also said that there was not any need for him to align with a so-called political leader whose politics would end soon.

In a difficult time in which Muslims in the country are living with fear and threat being posed by ethno-religious nationalism and government ignorance today, Hakeem’s rejection was totally disappointing Muslim masses. Muslims want their political leaders to be united to speak in one voice for them to address their problems and win their legitimate aspirations and rightful position in politics. Muslims’ political priorities today constitute security and co-existence with other communities in peace and harmony. To achieve these, they desperately need one united political leadership. SLMC leader should understand this fact enough. Hakeem should remember that the late founder leader and his predecessor M.H.M. Ashraff established the SLMC to unite not only Muslim people throughout the country but also all Muslim politicians to work in one platform for community’s political successes. Mr. Hakeem should remember that he is the leader of a party that was underpinned by his predecessor Ashraff on an Islamic value “don’t disunite but firmly grasp the rope of unity.”

If SLMC leader Hakeem could join hand with Rishard in the last Uva Provincial Council election to enjoy more perks and posts from government, why only now can’t he do it for his community’s interests at this crucial time? If he could re-embrace those who on many occasions conspired to destroy his leadership and SLMC into the party and offer them most senior political positions in the party as well as in the Eastern Provincial council after its election, why only now can’t he do it with Rishard for their community political progress?

Mr. Hakeem speaking about others’ political end should remember that his politics also already started to decline. The SLMC’s politics under his leadership lost its legitimacy in Vanni and Trincomalee districts in the last general elections. The SLMC under his leadership would have lost its legitimacy even in Batticaloa District had the NFGG led by Rahman not jointly contested the same election in his party in the district. In last parliamentary elections, even in his Kandy District, his leadership has not been a matter for the Muslims in the district since Muslims there preferred more UNP’s Haleem and Kiriella than Hakeem of SLMC. All these facts point to that his political leadership survives only within Ampara District. This bitter reality requires SLMC leader to alter his political course and accommodate other political forces in the society to represent Muslim community in one voice.

*Dr. Salithamby Abdul Rauff teaches at Dhofar University, Sultanate of Oman

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  • 1
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    Dr. Salithamby Abdul Rauff

    RE: Ethnoreligious Nationalism & The Crisis Of Muslim Leadership

    1. “In a difficult time in which Muslims in the country are living with fear and threat being posed by ethno-religious nationalism and government ignorance today, Hakeem’s rejection was totally disappointing Muslim masses. Muslims want their political leaders to be united to speak in one voice for them to address their problems and win their legitimate aspirations and rightful position in politics. Muslims’ political priorities today constitute security and co-existence with other communities in peace and harmony. To achieve these, they desperately need one united political leadership.”

    2. In a nutshell, what you are saying is that , in the Land of Native Veddah Aethho, Illegally occupied by the Paras , Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim and others, stupidity is equally distributed, and the Muslim leadership is more Stupid in addressing the needs of the Sri Lankan Muslim Community.

    3. Why is that? Amarasiri calls it self-interest, manipulating the Fools to their self-interest.

    4. The Muslim leadership is not alone here. The Tamil and the Sinhala leadership and masses have more or less equally shown their stupidity.

    5. “Today, the country under Sirisena –Ranil government is preparing to bring a new constitution to accommodate interests and aspirations of all communities in the country by a viable political arrangement. At this crucial juncture, Muslim political leaders rather than seriously studying the matter to submit suitable recommendations to be incorporated into the proposed constitution for their people are extremely busy distributing patronages they acquired from government, appointing their cronies and followers to their party national list, departments and other executive boards under their respective ministries offered by the government for betraying community.”

    However. it appears from your witting that the Sri Lankan Muslim leaders are very good believers in “stupidity is a virtue” Revelation than their Par-Sinhala and Para-Tamil colleagues.

    6. “even in his Kandy District, his leadership has not been a matter for the Muslims in the district since Muslims there preferred more UNP’s Haleem and Kiriella than Hakeem of SLMC. “

    Looks like the Muslim voters are getting more common sense at least in this area of politics, but they need work.

    However, the most serious problem faced by the Sri Lankan Muslims, more than the Stupidity of many of its leaders, is the Satan, Iblis, Devil Following Wahhabies and their clones, called salafis, Tauheed, Najdis, ISIS, ISIL, Taliban, Boko Haram, Deobandis etc.

    Revelation Vs, Reason and Observation Debate. when will the Age of reason and enlightnment arrive for the Muslims, which they had 1,000 years ago. Ulama still in power and Controlling?

    These Satan following Wahhabi and their clones do Satan’s bidding and promise their followers by making them despise their Fellow Muslims by calling them Idolaters, Grave Worshipers etc,. when they in fact pay respect.

    What is funny is that the Satan Following Wahhabies do not call themselves idol worshipers when they go around the Stone in Mecca on Pilgrimage.

    Do they, Wahhabies and their clones, show respect to One God or do they Idol worship a stone, instead of the 360 idols that were there before?

    Hadith of Najd

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith_of_Najd

    According to two narrations in Sahih Bukhari, Muhammad asks Allah to bless the areas of Bilad al-Sham (Syria) and Yemen. When his companions said “Our Najd as well,” he replied: “There will appear earthquakes and afflictions, and from there will come out the side of the head (e.g. horns) of Satan.” In a similar narration, Muhammad again asked Allah to bless the areas Medina, Mecca, Sham, and Yemen and, when asked specifically to bless Najd, repeated similar comments about there being earthquakes, trials, tribulations, and the horns of Satan.

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      Salithamby Abdul Rauff

      RE: Ethnoreligious Nationalism & The Crisis Of Muslim Leadership

      What are the other “Environmental Factors” contributing to the Stupidity is a Virtue, Revelation?

      Islamophiobia in Sri Lanka and Globally Synthesized by the West and the Zionists, and the recruitment by those agents to marginalize the Muslims, or to destabilize the Land of Native Veddah Aethho?

      Islamophobia Conference 2015 – Ramon Grosfoguel

      In this video Ramon Grosfoguel, a professor at the Department of Ethnic Studies at the University of California, Berkeley, discussed how Islamophobia is a multidimensional problem.

      Take this “Environmental Factor” into account as well, besides the stupidity of the Satan Following Wahhabies and their Clones. Have you heard about Afgahani, the 19th Century Reformer?

  • 1
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    I am not a Muslim but I am one who fervently wishes an unified Sri Lanka where our Muslim brothers play to the fullest the part that befits the TWO million plus Muslims who share this Paradise.

    I knew Sir Razik Fareed, I knew Badiuddin Mahmud, and I knew best the truly exceptional Senator A M A Azeez. Where, today, do the Muslims have leaders of their calibre? Where is the guidance in the community to encourage young men and women to study further and prepare themselves for leadership.

    Too much of bickering within factions has ensured that many who would wish just opt out or emigrate.

    Read what Dr Ameer Ali wrote 5+ years ago.[Edited out]

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    You are not an ethnic group but a religious group. Your ethnicity is Tamil just like your fist name suggests.
    Followers of Islam are called Muslims and they belong to and cut across various racial ethnic linguistic groups. There is not such thing called a Muslim ethnicity or race any where in the world. Muslims belong to many races ethnicities and linguistic groups. Only in Sri Lanka a fake Muslim ethnicity that was never there was created deliberately, at the insistence of the selfish power hungry Southern Muslim elite, claiming a fake imagined Arab/Moorish heritage for the island’s Muslim population,to divide the island’s Tamils. First by the British colonials who loved to divide and rule and then by all Sinhalese governments again for the same reason.
    The Portuguese incorrectly called the entire Muslim population in the Indian sub continent as Moors, after the Moors who ruled the Iberian peninsula, as these were the only Muslims they ever met prior to their colonial conquests. The Sri Lankan Muslim elite used this incorrect identity to call themselves Moors and classify themselves as Arabs, as they did not want to acknowledge their true converted,largely low cast Dravidian Tamil origins and they also felt that it will be advantageous to them, to not identifying themselves as Tamils, as most of them (70%) lived amongst the Sinhalese and they wanted to escape the deep seated historical hatred that the Sinhalese had for the Tamils. So unlike the other Muslim communities in the sub continent, they stuck to this incorrect Moor identity given to them by the Portuguese and claimed a fake Arab/Moorish heritage for the island’s Muslims and brain washed the island’s Muslim masses to believe in this fake Arab origin despite speaking Tamil, looking like Tamils and following Tamil customs. The British and later the Sinhalese obliged the, with this fake identity and ethnicity, as this suited their divide and rule agenda.
    The so called Sri Lankan Muslims are descended from largely low caste Tamil Dravidian immigrants from Kerala and Tamil Nadu. A few hundred families having a little bit of Arab from a very distant male Arab ancestor does not make them Arab. We all have a lit bit of something.
    Just look at your photo and the photo of all the Muslims. There is nothing Moorish or Arab about you people. Look like typical low caste Dravidians that you people really are. You people do not want acknowledge this or your real Dravidian Tamil origin from India but claim a fake Arab origin. Even the Arabs have classified the Sri Lankan Muslims as low caste South Asian converts.
    No one recognises your fake concocted ethnicity, even the Sinhalese know in their hearts you people are Tamil by ethnicity and Muslim by religion.
    The North and East are not your traditional homelands it is the traditional homelands of the indigenous Eelam Tamils. From ancient times the history of these two provinces is Tamil and Hindu or at times Tamil Buddhist. The place names are all Tamil, Sinhalese or Islamic place names only came after independence. Just take a look at all maps prior to 1950 of the north and east of the island. Every village town city river mountain ford ETC is Tamil. All the rulers of these tow provinces were Tamil. Even when parts of the east came under the Kandyan Kingdom the kings were Tamil Naickers. Nothing Muslim or Islamic.
    You people only arrived here as refugees seeking asylum a few centuries ago and since independence have been conniving with the Sinhalese on how to steal the land from the Tamils make it an Islamic homeland for your immigrant community from India. Do not concoct history.
    Yes the LTTE chased around 50000-60000 Muslims from the North as they were spying and conniving with the racist Sinhalese armed forces and hiding arms supplied the Sri Lankan armed forces in their mosques to attack the Tamils. The LTTE did not want a repeat of what happened in the south and in the east to the Tamils at the hands of the Muslims and Sinhalese so cleared the Muslims out. It was a time of war and the Muslims were conniving with the Sinhalese to kill and destroy the Tamils in their own lands in the north. Prior to this the LTTE did not ever bother with the Muslims in the North. Do not twist and lies.
    As for the eastern province your accusation that the Tamils killed and ethnically cleansed thousands of Muslims is really laughable. It was the Muslim home guards who were heavily armed by the Sri Lankan armed forces who joined hands with the illegal Sinhalese settlers and armed forces and killed. ethnically cleansed thousands of Tamil Hindu villages, especially in the Trincomallee and Amparai districts. Even now these ethnically cleansed Tamils are not allowed to return and the Muslims are occupying these lands. Just like in the north the Muslims used to hide their arms in their mosques, as they thought it will be safe there and then collect them from the mosques and pray to Allah before attacking the neighbouring Tamil Hindu villages to kill rape and ethnically cleans. The huge Kattankudi mosque that is still a hot bed or Salafist/Wahhabi Islamic extremist was one of the main places, where they hid their weapons used to kill loot rape and ethnically cleanse the indigenous Hindu Tamils of the east who are the real owners of the land. This is the reason Karuna and his group attacked this mosque, just before another armed attack against another Hindu Tamil village.
    The Tamils are the real owners of the east not the Muslims who only came here as asylum seekers and were given refuge by the eastern Hindu Tamils a few centuries ago nor the Sinhalese who were only came to the east after independence and were deliberately and illegally settled by all Sinhalese Sri Lankan government including the current government. Until the 1950s the Tamils were the overwhelming majority in the east and a majority in all the districts. Now they have been reduced to a 40% minority in their own lands in the east. Due to deliberate illegal Sinhalese settlement since independence, large scale killing and ethnic cleansing of Tamils in the east at the hands of the Sinhalese and their Muslim allies who are conniving to take hole of the east from the Tamils for a Salafist/Wahhabi Islamic land with the help of certain Muslim states. Came here begging for asylum a centuries ago and now claiming and wanting to take over the land from the real Tamil owners. Just look at the percentages of the east. It is the Muslims who have benefitted out of what happened and the Tamils are the real losers and this man has the audacity state all this.
    The TNA individually won the most amount of votes and seats in the east, however what did this Muslims do? instead of joining with their fellow non Muslim Tamils, they connived and joined hands with the Sinhalese settlers in the east to block the TNA forming a government and took power with Sinhalese help and are now doing everything within their power to damn the Tamils in the east and take hold of their land.
    It was only the Eelam Tamils who fought for their ancient historical homelands in the north and east, for the survival of the Tamil language and culture and their just rights and not the Muslims despite being ethnically Tamil speaking Tamil and following the Tamil culture. Why? Because the north and east is the ancient historical lands of the Eelam Tamils both Hindu and Christian. You will only fight for what is really yours, Your child , your home your land and will be willing to loose everything. This what the Eelam Tamils did when they had no other option and all peaceful methods and struggle failed to defend their land their language and their culture. They lost more than 300000 lives 1.2 million of them were chased out of their lands and were either internally displaced or forced to move overseas largely to the west. They were emptied of their lands, chased out of their homes and many lost all their wealth and possession. Yet despite all this they fought and struggled to defend what theirs. In contract the Muslims just sat their did not do anything and were only making maximum benefit of the situation and the plight of Eelam Tamils for their immigrant community. Both in Colombo and other parts of the south and in the east. This was noticed even by the Sinhalese. Why they did not care as this land the culture the ancient Tamil Hindu/Buddhist history of the north and east was not theirs. They were an immigrant refugee community, so had no real feelings for this and or culture or the compulsion to defend it and safeguard it from outsiders. On the contrary they making the best use this situation to see how they can gain from this for their immigrant community and were overtly and covertly helping and conniving with the Sinhalese to kill murder rape ethnically cleanse and commit genocide on the island’s Tamils so that can steal their land, especially in the east. They really do not want the Sinhalese or Tamils to reconcile as they feel their immigrant community will loose out. Even when there was an agreement was made to take out the present Sinhalese majority areas in the east and join the rest of the east to the north the Muslims vehemently protested and derailed it. Now why should they be bothered about this. The reason is they want the entire east for themselves and are using the Sinhalese settlers support to steal it from the Tamils,so if the Sinhalese factor is removed from the east, they will not be able to gain their Salafist/Wahhabi Islamic paradise for their immigrant community, from which they will start to create chaos to the rest of South Asia and the region.
    The Tamil had to fight for their land language and loose hundreds of thousands of lives loose their homes wealth land and flee as refugees. 1.2 million in a population of 3.2 million ethnic Eelam Tamils. Whilst they just sat there doing nothing reaping all benefits, overtly and covertly supporting the Sinhalese to kill rape loot ethically cleanse and steal Tamil lands homes and wealth and when the west India and the UN get concerned and want to do something for the island’s Tamils to safeguard their land language and culture, they come again like party poopers again to spoil everything claiming what about us? We want large chunks of the Tamil land and only Tamil land despite 70% of them living amongst the Sinhalese. Strange they will never demand anything from the Sinhalese and want to live amicably with them but want to steal lands from the Tamils, destroy the Tamil language and culture, despite speaking Tamil and being ethnically Tamil. They are like the cuckoo bird that slowly comes and then takes over the nest kicking all the original inhabitants out.

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    ‘In 1987, when India’s and Sri Lanka’s governments signed an Indo-Lanka accord to settle Sri Lanka’s prolonged ethnic question, Muslims the second largest ethnic minority in the country after Tamils were systematically ignored by Sri Lanka’s government in the accord submerging their existence, aspirations, interests and problems under the guise of Tamil-speaking people.’
    The purpose of signing the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was to monitor the activities of Wahabbism in the Eastern Province. As far as the Muslims are concerned they are a Tamil-speaking race. Muslim is not a race. The architect of the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord, G.Parthasarathy and other Indian diplomats were concerned of the rise of Wahabbism in the Eastern Province which was eventually a threat to India from the India Ocean. The Muslim community could have asked that Sri Lanka be divided into Five Provinces when the Accord insisted for the merger of North-East Provinces or to implement the 13th Amendment. That is why when the Indo-Sri Lanka Peace Accord was tabled before the UN General Assembly, it was applauded by the West. Countries such as India, USA, UK are concerned of the threat of Wahabbism which began to emerge after 1970.

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