1 December, 2021

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Hidden Agenda Of An Ethno-Nationalist President

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

“Civilizations in decline are consistently characterized by a tendency towards standardization and uniformity”, wrote Arnold Toynbee, the foremost historian and philosopher of 20th century. What is happening now in Sri Lanka in the name of one country one law (OCOL) is a sinister exercise to inaugurate a legislative process to destroy the nation’s historic cultural diversity and replace it with a uniformity in the image of a politically deformed Buddhism championed by an ethno-nationalist president supported by his Viyathmaga and sections of the Sangha. At a time when the ruling regime has failed to fulfill even an iota of the promise it made to bring prosperity and splendour to the nation, which failure forced the president to apologize in public, to pushforward the OCOL program is a sign of desperation for the pilot of a sinking ship. He is planning to restore his cascading popularity by reigniting the ethno-nationalist tinderbox in targeting the Muslim community in particular.

It has now come to light that not only the Minister of Justice Ali Sabry was unaware of this men-only task force, but also even the four Muslims included in that group were caught by surprise to read their names in the Gazette notification. It also appears that a member from the Tamil community would be included to make the TF representative of all three communities. However, the most disturbing aspect of this TF is that it is headed by a man whose notoriety in disrespecting the law, ignoring court orders and provoking anti-Muslim riots is plentifully recorded. In a recent media interview, this monk revealed the hidden agenda of the President when he elaborated that the idea behind OCOL is to create ultimately a nation of Sri Lankans and not a nation of Sinhalese, Tamils or Muslims, and went a step further and expressed his dissatisfaction over the current system of Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslims schools. He had actually let the cat out of the bag.

Although it is the Muslim personal laws as enshrined in the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act of 1951 (MMDA) that are going to be reviewed, reformed and redrafted immediately, and in a manner that would completely destroy its religious identity, Gnanasara would also be advancing reforms to remove even the existence of Muslim Schools. These government schools and private madrasas are an eyesore to this monk and his Buddhist hardliners. They believe that these educational institutions are hot beds of Islamic fundamentalism and vis a vis Muslim extremism. Already the Minister of Public Security, Sarath Weerasekara had been instrumental in proposing anti-madrasa legislation in the parliament. To Gnanasara those legislations have not gone far enough.

What the future holds for this country and under this regime is the systematic dismantling of the historic scaffolding that protected and strengthened the cultural and religious diversity, which won international fame. It was the attraction of this diversity more than anything else that drew a galaxy of international leaders to Colombo for the NAM Conference in 1976. To allow this heterogeneity to be destroyed by an ethno-nationalist mindset that shamelessly call itself Buddhist is an insult to the founder of Buddhism. These are the villains of Gautama led by President Gotabaya Rajapaksa.

The Gnanasara TF is a slap on Minister Ali Sabry’s face, and disrespect to the legal brains of this country as evident from the Bar Association’s published communique. All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) urges the Minister not to resign his position. Won’t his resignation send a strong message to the world community? The ball is in his court. Even if the President wanted a Buddhist prelate to head his TF there plenty of more enlightened Buddhist monks than Gnanasara, who cherish cultural pluralism and consider it as an asset to build unity and not a liability to get rid of.

There are far more urgent tasks at the moment calling for serious attention and action from the President and his cabinet than OCOL. The economy persists in remaining enemy number one. Already, the president’s secretary has sounded that the next budget would be “non-traditional” and that it would focus on the future. That is an excuse to cover the budget’s vacuity about the present. Mr. President, people are fed up with more and more of your promises. They want their basic needs be satisfied. Ethno-nationalism is not going to feed, clothe and shelter the downtrodden, whose number is increasing by the day. One doesn’t need your finance minister to tell them eat manioc if they cannot get rice. They are already doing it. At the least, will the minister reveal in his budget how much of his brother’s previous budget promises been delivered so far?

In short, OCOL is an instrument of deception, and the TF is a means to deflect people’s anger and frustration over the regime’s failure and its preparedness for   sacrificing the Muslim community to remain in power. Muslims should be on extra guard to prevent any of its members acting like idiots to start a flare up. This battle has to be fought politically and intellectually and not on the streets as Gnanasara and his boss want.

*Dr. Ameer Ali, School of Business and Governance, Murdoch University, Western Australia

 

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Latest comments

  • 6
    2

    The Basic concept of One Country One Law(OCOL) is already violated by Rajapaksa Family. How can one family enjoy the Post of President, Minister of Defence, Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Sports Minister, Minister of Irrigation. All these Ministers had Court cases for corruption and murder until they became Power again in 2020. What law is there to investigate their involvement in Easter Bombing?

  • 5
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    Standardization and uniformity is bad !

    Try introducing new ideas of religion , social science, politics in Saudi ( or any Muslim country )

    • 1
      2

      Deepthi,
      “Try introducing new ideas of religion , social science, politics in Saudi ( or any Muslim country )”
      Your brush is too wide. Try replacing the word “Muslim” with “Buddhist” for example. It’s got nothing to do with religion. Why ignore Malaysia, Turkey, Indonesia, Bosnia, Albania…? Don’t let your prejudices cloud your thinking.

      • 1
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        OC
        Thanks for that.
        I will add that Islam under the Moguls was a great modernising influence on India despite some rotten rulers. What passes for North Indian culture (food, clothes, music and art) today is very much Mogul inspired.

  • 3
    2

    “…one country one law (OCOL) is a sinister exercise to inaugurate a legislative process to destroy the nation’s historic cultural diversity…”
    —-
    The cultural diversity that exist in Sri Lanka/Sinhale is a result of compassion and tolerance of Sinhala Buddhists towards people who faced desperate situations. But now some people condemn them as ‘Sinhala Buddhist Supremacists’, ‘Buddhist Fundamentalists’. The question that boggles the minds of indigenous Sinhalayo is ‘What good this cultural diversity has done to them?’
    During British rule, people who were accommodated by Sinhala Buddhists took the side of the enemy of indigenous Sinhalayo, helped them to oppress Sinhalayo and exploit this country. After independence, whenever Sinhalayo made an attempt to bring changes as an independent nation, Tamils started attacking Sinhalayo and later they tried to break this country and massacred Sinhala Buddhists for three decades to grab their land.
    In 1915, Muslims started a riot against Sinhala Buddhists by attacking people taking part in a procession and helped British to massacre them. Muslims want to convert this country to an Islam Caliphate, carried out terrorist attacks and ruined the economy. Some Muslims have started to claim East is their ‘Traditional Homeland’ forgetting the fact that a Sinhala Buddhist King settled their ancestors in the East after saving them from persecution by Portuguese.

    • 1
      0

      EE,
      Sinhalese or “Sinhalayo” or Sinhalé are known inhabitants of this “Resplendent Isle of Sri Lanka” from may be medieval times, which was inhabited by Nagas and Yakkas and indigenous group.
      Prakrit was the common language of inhabitants.
      Circa 1017 CE.
      The height of Chola Imperialism and the demise of the Pandian Kingdom, the virtual protectors/underwriters of Sinhalé and their rulers against invasion, by outsiders through marriage of rulers of Sinhalé, to Pandian princess Kinship.
      Driven southwards (by Chola invasion), from Pollonnaruwa, marking the end of two great houses of dynasties of ancient Sinhalé.
      1. Moriya and,
      2. Lambakanna,
      The Kingdom regained by Vijayabahu I, in 1070 CE, after prolonged struggle/battle of 53 years!
      So, for 53 years the “Cholas” ruled the country and tributes paid by the south to the Chola Empire and thousands of Chola ‘Shathriyas’ (Fighters/Protectors/guards of Royalty), stationed with attendant civilisation of theirs, with spouses and resultant progeny stationed in Pollonnaruwa and North west SL, inhabited that period and a sizeable populace to boot.
      Now to post 1070 CE era.
      There is no recorded simulation of a ‘NANDIKADAL’ in Pollonnaruwa 1500 years ago, using, Parakramabahu’s endowment to Agriculture – The visionary, giant irrigation venture!!

  • 2
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    Having laws is not enough. The laws should apply to all the citizens equally. There are people who violated the Constitution but no action has been taken against them. They even come and sit in the Parliament. So, what is the point in having laws?

    • 0
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      This is wisdom from you! Tell me when and where did all these begin. For some reason, Galle Face Green comes to mind. Don’t jump into Beira!

    • 0
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      Eagle,
      What about when an ex- US citizen President (who sometimes sits in Parliament) tries to give diplomatic immunity to another US citizen who has committed fraud in the US?

  • 0
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    PART 1/3

    Can anything be more shocking than Task Force Members learning only from the Gazette that they were supposed to tamely betray all principles. I believe you on this.
    .
    However, although the resignation of Minister Ali Sabry must necessarily come of his volition, things are getting so bad that I’m glad that you are saying all this very clearly. I have no real problem with any of what you have said, although what I’m now going to say may appear to contradict this very sentence!
    .
    As a retired teacher, I’d like to see an end to “enforced diversity” through religious schools and the like. Our Lankan communities are, indeed, too different from one another. Last month I asked my classmate, Dr Rajan Hoole, about you and he said that you’d been at Peradeniya and you were from Kattankudy, about my age. I see that you are a few years older:
    .
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ameer_Ali_(academic)
    .
    I was in the University many years after you gave up lecturing there. Never mind. We can relate to each other because whilst being different we draw some of our knowledge from a common pool.

  • 0
    0

    PART 2/3
    .
    Some advocate uniform education in English; logistically impossible! But I have never liked the idea of Muslim schools. Education in Sinhalese and Tamil media there’s no getting away from. Make every effort to teach English more effectively to all; I know that it’s easier said than done. English because it is THE World language.
    .
    But our immediate problem is Gnanasara! I don’t want to repeat links that I have already given to one Buddhist monk, so here’s something different:
    .
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=01K4eryC-lI&t=213s
    .
    “old codger” thinks that I’m obsessed with this guy;
    .
    Well, why not? We need something of that sort of thinking. He doesn’t want to convert anybody. I agree that we don’t want diversity of the sort that Gnanasara and Eagle Eye will allow; the “standardization and uniformity” that Arnold Toynbee condemned. We’ve got to work towards “One Country, One Law”, but not in the way that “Sinhalayo-Buddhists” want.
    .
    My own background is Anglican Christianity, but I find that “European Religion” hardly satisfactory. I don’t know much about Buddhism, nor do I want to spend much time learning it, but shorn of all its “popular” aspects it represents fine ethical thinking.

  • 0
    0

    PART 3/3
    .
    It was a Hindu holiday yesterday,
    and I received a greetings card and this surprise via a source that is well-known on CT for adopting a Marxist point of view. I get his point; this is the culture of an important segment of our people!
    .
    https://www.britannica.com/topic/Diwali-Hindu-festival
    .
    Hinduism, if it to be of any use to me, has to be interpreted symbolically; Islam has to be understood by me in a form adjusted to conditions today, and not the Arabian desert 1,400 years ago. That’s for me, not for you!
    .
    Unless we begin to see that all these religions have aspects which get others fed up with them we will not understand why they all seem to cause resentment in those who don’t share the Faith. So, Buddhism has to accept that among its manifestations are the aberrations of Gnanasara, Eagle Eye and those intolerant Burmese who have harassed the hapless Rohingiya.
    .
    For now, let all resign from this Task Force, leaving it with only the evil Gnanasara whom we cannot influence.

  • 2
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    Part II
    Residual Chola population would have remained, if not, bulk of it, unless annihilated!!!.
    That is 2 generations +.possibly, multiplying 3 fold in that period.
    This is a very interesting point and invigorating thought all of us indigenous inhabitants.
    We seek your valued advice to enlighten us mere mortals, to embellish our true heritage:-
    A. Who are these, so called “Indigenous Sinhalayo”?
    B. How did they become ‘indigenous’?
    C. What resource did they use to make them indigenous?
    D. Whether genetic cloning was performed or not?
    How could a community claimant of ‘Aryan’ North Indian Nobility, genetic origin, become “indigenous” community of Sinhalé?
    Very Confusing deduction indeed, to say the least.
    There is something, I am unable to see to understand!
    Your help would be immeasurably valuable to understand this.

  • 1
    0

    Irrespective of how The MR clan is received, OCOL is a valid idea and concept pf law. The MMDA is an ill-conceived law enacted in circa 1950. Theshavalam is also an unfair law. Kandyan law also should come in line with the country’s laws. This long overdue. When Thalatha drafted it it was held back to gain the minority votes. GR should go ahead and finish this once and for all.

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