By Mass L. Usuf –
The one who has succumbed and the one who is living are not the same.
The one who has been injured and the one who is healthy are not the same.
The one who has suffered and the one who has not are not the same.
Though the intensity of the feelings may differ, an incomprehensible sadness has enveloped me. Let me begin by expressing my sincere and deeply hurt feelings towards my dear mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters who had been unreasonably, unjustifiably, irrationally and most cruelly targeted. This tragedy did not happen only to you. It has happened to me too, mentally. I cannot look and I do not want to look at my children and grandchildren with affection because deep inside me an inexplicable something keeps reminding me that there are many who have been deprived of such affection. My mind was numbed and my fingers frozen up till today. I was walking inside my house up and down thinking of my helplessness. Helplessness as I am incapable and unable to do something that can help, support and give strength to you and the many like you. The innocent, the loving, the young and the old.
You Are Not Alone
Without doubt, all peace-loving citizens of this country too, in one way or the other, experience the same deep shock and anguish. May be more. Dear All, I embrace you close to my heart and wish to say, “please do not think that you are alone. We may literally not be close to you but our thoughts are very much close to you. As close as your shadows. In short we are you”.
To those of you who have suffered injuries, you have found a permanent place in my daily prayers. I am certain, there are many out there, in whose prayers also you would be kindly remembered. I beseech God to relieve you from all the pains, aches and discomforts that you have been subjected to. I supplicate to God that He relieves both you and your loved ones from the trauma, shock and anxiety that they must certainly be experiencing now. May God relieve all of you from all physical and mental agony that has befallen you innocent and peace-loving people.
It would give me a feeling of immense relief if I could visit you in the hospital. I wish I could stand by your bedside. I wish I could help you to get back your strength. I wish I could caress your hair with filial or brotherly affection. I wish I was able to attend the funeral of our loved ones. It will ease the weight that my soul is burdened with to sit and console those who have lost their dear and the beloved. As you and I know very well, reality will not permit me to be by your side. This is a time of heightened emotions and I understand that.
Therefore, I chose to write to help me unburden my sorrow.
I have deliberately avoided mentioning anything about the ANIMALS who perpetrated this gruesome carnage. They may have done this by themselves or they may have had links to ISIS or they may be pawns of an unseen force manipulating them. We still do not know, as investigations are on-going. Whatever be the circumstances for me they are not human beings. They are lower than animals. They do not deserve any further mention. All those who are responsible should be brought to justice and the severest of punishment given to them even if it means the death sentence. I would suggest, ‘Public hanging’ so that it will be a lesson for everyone.
To my brothers and sisters in the hospitals and the medical services. You rose up to the occasion when your services were most wanted by your country. You displayed humanity sometimes though under constrained circumstances.
Police And The Armed Forces
To my dear brothers and sisters in the Police and the Armed Forces, you have demonstrated your bravery and courage. You have handled the situation in the best possible manner given the conditions that you were in. You have thus far maintained peace in the country and ensured the safety and protection of the other innocent citizens including the Muslims. We are thankful to you for that.
The Muslims naturally, felt a fear in them of a possible backlash. The Muslims as a community cannot be held responsible for this. This is well known and is an accepted fact. No Muslim can or will condone this under whatever circumstances. Even if there was a riot against the Muslims and Muslims were killed, this animalistic act cannot be justified. This is absolutely unacceptable in Islam. Punishing one person for the fault of another is not part of the Islamic teachings. Some claim that this was in retaliation to the Christchurch incident. In this case, not only in Sri Lanka even in New Zealand, not a single New Zealander can be subjected to any hurt leave alone killing because of the act of another person. This is the teaching of Peace in Islam.
Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith
This teaching of love and peace of the monotheistic religions of Christianity and Islam was echoed by His Eminence Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. A true religious leader who after assessing the volatile situation spoke words of guidance, love and peace to those affected. By your wise counselling you were able to subdue the emotions of the Sinhalese and Tamil Catholics. Christians are anyway peace-loving people. A brave man you are, Sir. I bow in respect to you for your leadership at this hour of crisis. I thank my Christian brothers and sisters for your patience on the face of this turmoil.
Media And The Politicians
Do I have a word for my other fellow brothers and sisters, the media and the politicians? “Yes, I do”.
My dear fellow brothers and sisters, please know that if you are shocked, the Muslims too are shocked. If you condemn such dastardly act, the Muslims too condemn it unequivocally. The majority of the people appreciate the predicament that the Muslims have been pushed into by these Animals. Unfortunately, a handful of you through the social media are trying to sow discord and disunity. Instigate and provoke violence. Please do not fish in troubled waters. This is morally and ethically unacceptable. Do not be opportunistic in spreading hate. Do not spread false news and rumours that will aggravate the feelings of the people. Act like decent and respectable human beings. If there is violence, you are acting exactly how these Animals wanted you to react. Then there will be no difference between your act and those of theirs. As it will result in death and destruction. I am sure you all would not wish to belong to that category.
To the Media: I have seen some responsible reporting while at times prejudice slips in. It will be like taking coal to Newcastle for me to sermonise on what media ethics is to the media. You all know better. You have done good but you need to be better to up your standards. Saying so in words alone is insufficient. Demonstrate it and win the hearts and minds of the people. You have a huge responsibility.
To all the politicians the blame game, the irresponsibility and the callousness continues except for some right-thinking folks who are acting with responsibility. Most of them gaining cheap capital from the woes of a community. It may interest for some of you to know that the country is not applauding at your antics in the Parliament. Please act responsibly. Put the nation first in your thoughts with sincerity.
This is my country. This is your country. This is our country. Come, we shall hold our hands together – as Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims; As Buddhists, Hindus, Christians and those of the Islamic faith – at this moment of trial and tribulation, the way we do at times of peace. Let’s unite and defeat this scourge. It is through unity that these Animals can be vanquished. If we are divided, victory will belong to these Animals.
Vive la Sri Lanka, Long Live Sri Lanka!