By Yudhanjaya Wijeratne –
Once, in Europe, there was a country that had just gotten through a war. It wasn’t the best place to be. It wasn’t the richest country in the world. Nevertheless, it was home to large numbers of people from a variety of races. People were, by and large, getting along and getting up on their feet again.
Then some madmen came along and changed all that.
They incited racism. They incited hate. They incited riots. And finally, when all the reins were in their hands, they incited a holocaust. Perfectly innocent people turned against neighbors they had lived with for decades.
Let’s not pussyfoot around the issue. This WAS germany: and this, unless we act now, is also where Sri Lanka is heading. What was started by the religious extremist group “Bodu Bala Sena” is now spiralling into chaos.
Sri Lanka is corrupt, like a golden apple infested with orange worms.
Don’t get me wrong: I’m a Buddhist. My father, mother, and entire family have for generations been Sinhala and Buddhist. I believe in the Buddha. What we don’t believe in is the Bodu Bala Sena and their ilk. Let me spell out the situation in Sri Lanka right now. Buddhism, a pure philosophy that preaches nothing but tolerance and compassion, is being twisted in the hands of a gang of saffron-robed thugs. It’s being used as a weapon to incite hate, mass racism, and violence against the Muslim community of Sri Lanka. They aren’t monks. They’re terrorists.
The Buddha did not preach national security: he did not preach violence: he did not preach cultural barriers. He preached love, compassion, kindness. He preached getting along with your neighbors and fellow human beings, no matter what their race, religion or color. Right now that teaching is being twisted a hundred and eighty degrees by the Inquisition that is the Bodu Bala Sena.
It started before the Halaal issue. First it was the “Nolimit toffees” – a vague accusation that spread like wildfire: that the Muslim-owned Nolimit chain of fashion outlets had something in their free on-the-counter sweets that made people infertile. WTF. Look at it, written out: see how ridiculous it sounds. It was tactfully turned into a conspiracy: that the Muslims are out to rob Buddhists of their population.
Then came the Halaal incident: another prize piece of bullshit spewed by what I call “saffron terrorists”. Something we accepted with no qualms for generations suddenly turns out to be a “national problem”. Graffiti on the walls. Hoots and chants inside schools. That’s how the fire began. Many people – including some of my own neighbors – in their ignorance were fooled into somehow believing that Muslim kovils were cheating them out of their hard-earned money. And why would they doubt the so-called Buddhist monks who tell them this? That’s like asking the Pope if God exists. The tongue, like a sharp knife, killed without drawing blood. Shadow – talk of “preserving the integrity of Sinhala culture” abounded. The country is 70% Buddhist, has been and probably always will be: what more do you want to preserve?
Today I woke up and read that the Fashion Bug in Pepiliyana, a Muslim-owned enterprise, was attacked by a mob. The reason? Some shadowy claim that a 15-year old girl was raped inside by the employees. Really? Hands up those who believe it. What on earth was a 15-year old girl doing inside there at night? And what evidence is there? Security tapes? None. The plain truth is the attack was an organized riot led by the Bodu Bala Sena.
Buddhist monks were apparently the first to attack. No, I won’t call them monks: they’re an insult to this religion, this country, and every human being on the planet. Justice would see them hanged, except there is no justice for ones such as these. This country – united as one – fought off the world’s most powerful terrorist group, bleeding, rejoicing as one, and now these vultures come to take it apart. Go to the prisons: count the murders, the rapists, the convicted. Where was the Bodu Bala Sena for the rapes and crimes of so-called “Sinhalese?”
To my Muslim friends, we apologize. We do not believe in this bullshit. We do not condone it.
Sri Lanka, sadly, has forgotten one of the Buddha’s most important teachings:
“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”
― Gautama Buddha
If anyone insults you, pity them, for it is they who are deluded and sick inside. The Bodu Bala Sena and their teachings are a vile corruption of all that is precious about Buddhism. There are no Buddhists against you: there are only the pariahs, the dogs and vultures. We’re all human. We all bleed red. This country belongs to all of us and we will see it united, once again. We believe in Sri Lanka – not a Buddhist Ceylon, but a Sri Lanka that is home to everyone, regardless of race, religion or color.