By Mohamed R. M. Farook –
The above front page headline equivalent in Tamil in the mainstream Tamil language daily ‘Virakesari’ of 16th June 2018 gave a shock to the Muslims for at least two main reasons. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero was convicted for openly threatening the missing person Prageeth Ekneligoda’s wife within the Homagama Magistrate Court. Police filed action under relevant Penal code and the Court found him guilty on two counts and sentenced him for six months rigorous imprisonment on each count to run concurrently. Courts deliver verdicts based on law in dispensing justice and there is no question of anyone getting a gift from a verdict of a Court of law and if anyone were to attribute a verdict as a ‘gift’ it could amount to Contempt of Court. Further, the said verdict against Gnanasara Thero is not for any of his various public pronouncements and/or actions of incitements, insults, hate-speeches and instigations against the Muslims which harmed the Muslim community very badly in persons and properties for which legal remedy has not surfaced yet.
The other reason is that the Muslims do not nurse grudges against those who have harmed them, yet they want the law to take its due process so that they are not discriminated and singled out for attacks by racists and extremists. The forte of the Muslims in facing any adversary is leave the matter to God the Almighty (Allah) for His solutions – and when God’s (Allah’s) punishment befalls on the wrong-doer, there is no escape whatsoever for the latter. Even those who do not believe in God (Allah) are steadfast in the concept of fate (Karma) and repercussions for the wrongs done – and this must be thought of before wronging others. Definitely the wrong-doers will suffer sooner or later absolutely.
Newspapers usually print attention-grabbing headlines and this is alright for many areas such as politics, entertainments, sports, drama, unusual happenings and so on. But when it comes to community, communal, or religious affairs, the persons in charge of forming the Headline must be very careful that the Headline would not arouse the feelings of any group or community leading to unwanted or unnecessary misunderstandings that could hurt that group or community. Sometimes this aspect of care gets overlooked and confusion and chaos reign. This is what befell the above Virakesari Headline. It gave the impression that the Headline was the version of the Virakesari Newspaper whereas it is (was) not. When one reads the full article under the above Headline, it would be noted that the above Headline depicted what the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) said at their press meeting. Virakesari would have avoided all these unwanted commotions had they used a hyphen ( – ) and stated BBS at the tail-end of the Headline.
Few Muslims have shown their disapproval, verbally and in writing, believing that it was coined by Virakesari without reading the full article. Anyway, Virakesari must accept the condemnation of these few Muslims on account of the fact that they (Virakesari) did not give the source of the truth of the Headline in the Headline itself. Further, do not bring in past incidences (if any) where Virakesari would have erred in reporting matters in the affairs of Muslims. Let bygones be bygones. Let us be helpful to Virakesari to be sought after by the Tamil speaking Muslims in Sri Lanka. In fact, their coverage of Muslim events is praiseworthy and hope they will be more circumspective in reporting in the future.
*M.R.M. Farook – Chartered Engineer