20 September, 2021

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Is The Government Being Driven In The Wrong Direction?

By Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

Civilized societies seek to ensure that social, cultural and religious priorities of a community are based on a broad consensus of that community. Decisions taken affecting the civil liberties and religious sentiments of a people should be more open, transparent and accountable to avoid passing the ball of responsibility. It is the constitutional duty of the Minister in Charge to guide the Cabinet as part of effective governance and collective responsibility. He must be judicious and ensure that quality policy-making process is followed especially, when the matter relates to the sensitivities of a people in a democratic set up. They should be heard in decision-making.

On the issue of collective responsibility, the Supreme Court of India stated: “it ensures that Cabinet decisions are based on principles and not on personalities.” (Common Cause, A Registered Society vs Union Of India & Ors, 3 August, 1999).

A few from the Muslim community banded together does not represent and, morally should not be acknowledged as representing the interest of the entire Muslim community. Similarly, a few from the Sinhala community does not and, morally should not, represent the entire Sinhala community. The majority of the people among these communities cannot allow a few to dominate the rest of the people in their respective communities. To allow this to happen would mean literally surrendering themselves to forces who will manipulate the divergent majority will without consultation. Such manipulation may even go against certain fundamental principles or basic beliefs of the others. On the broader canvas may challenge the peaceful coexistence of a people and, thereby, create chaos in society. 

Arbitrary Decision

According to legal theory, the evolution of law which includes reform is not a new phenomenon. Law reforms are neither magic nor a unique exercise to be excited about. In this exercise consultations of an independent nature are initiated by the Minister of Justice. A conscientious and honorable person will ensure that the principles of good governance in the law-making process is meticulously adhered to. These are moral and ethical values. However, with regard to the matter of reforms of Muslim marital laws, there are at least two areas where without proper consultation arbitrary decision making has taken place. It is understood that the Cabinet had decided on 8th March to abolish the Quazi Court system and to prohibit polygamous marriages under the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act (MMDA).

Reflecting on the Indian Supreme Court observation quoted above, the Muslim community may think whether the Cabinet decisions reflect pampering to the interests of personalities or is a reflection of principles. If it was the former, then it is totally prejudicial, immoral and against the conscience of an entire community; Leave alone the conscience of right-minded general public who will make a judgement of their own.

Nominated Or Elected

The growing trend of marginalization of the Muslims is becoming very visible day by day. This is causing a lot of uneasiness within the community. Both the President and the Prime Minister must fully recognize the seriousness of this challenge. Lest they be misled into the arena of Islamophobia – by design or in ignorance. A careful observation of the turn of events clearly points towards this trajectory. Common sense dictates that the President and the Prime Minister would never want to be part of this damning trend.

In any event, the Minister of Justice whether he is nominated or elected must realize that the people are exercising their constitutional right of sovereignty through him. In other words, he is a part of the legislature and the executive.

“Thus, the Cabinet stands or falls together. Where the policy of a particular minister is under attack, it is the government as whole which is being attacked.”  (British Constitution & Politics 5th Edition by J. Harvey and L. Bather).

Multi-Million-Dollar Industry

These observations should not be viewed as a criticism of the Minister of Justice but should be taken in the correct spirit of intellectual engagement. A deeper understanding of another important phenomenon and the systematic manipulation by the sinister multi-million-dollar commerce requires study. That is the Islamophobic industry.

More than $200m was spent towards promoting “fear and hatred” of Muslims in the United States by various organizations between 2008 and 2013, according to a fresh joint report by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and the University of California, Berkeley. Unsuspecting governments like ours are beguiled to fall in line in perpetuating same. The Minister needs to inform himself of this global trend. Having a superfluous idea of the hackneyed word, ‘Islamophobia’ or the ability to utter some words about this, is gravely insufficient. Contextually, he must evaluate the potential pitfalls of tinkering with the established rights and privileges of a community, from a socio-cultural, legal and religious standpoint.

The Minister of Justice, regrettably, one of the few intellectuals in the Cabinet, has the huge responsibility of advising the President and Prime Minister accordingly. Moreover, with the broader and best interest of the nation must also guide his fellow policy makers. Reciprocatively, it becomes incumbent on the Prime Minister and President to give a fair and reasonable hearing to the Minister in the greater interest of the country.

What is being marketed as a Muslim issue will become a fully blown national issue. Then, extend into a regional and international issue. The duty of the State as internationally recognized is to protect the vulnerable minority.

Crumbling Society

Only a very few of Sri Lankan academia, intellectuals, journalists and professionals have some understanding and knowledge of this global phenomenon. Most of our people are absolutely unaware. Therefore, the Islamophobic script is swallowed hook, line, and sinker by our politicians and monks. Most of the monks who dabble with politics lack exposure of international trends.  Their articulation of viewpoints demonizing Islam and Muslims are rather narrow and does not take into consideration the correlation between what is happening globally and its possible impact on our country.

The government must work to promote and protect minority rights and freedoms. Recognise and permit the continuation of rights which they have been enjoying for centuries. The deficiency in human security will indirectly have a heavy impact on the already weakened national economy and our fragmented social structure. We have been through a thirty- year war, the 1983 violence against the Tamil people, the several instances of premeditated arson, killing and the destruction of properties of the Muslims. In this background, our society cannot take any more burden.

The total effect of marginalizing the Muslim community will contribute to a volatile, unpredictable, dangerous and an unstable set of people living together. I mean everyone irrespective of race, religion or ethnicity. We must admit that the Sri Lankan population is polarized and deeply divided. We all will be sitting on a time bomb.

If You Are Loyal

It must be mentioned that the principles of Islamic equality and human rights inspired the Western thought and not vice versa. Even then there are deficiencies in the Western extraction of Islamic human rights concepts.  The learned Justice and scholar, late Professor Weeramantry wrote: “Indeed some of the inadequacies of current human rights doctrine results from overemphasis on unbridled individualism, which Islamic law has sought to avoid. All values are set in the context of the community.” (Page 133, Islam and Human Rights: Islamic Jurisprudence.) Mr. Minister, be advised that “All values are set in the context of the community.”

There is a duty to boldly, bravely and courageously advise the President and Prime Minister on what is correct and to stand by it. After all, it is for the good of the country. Loyalty is not acquiescing to what is not correct.  It is the duty of such to advise them of the ramifications of touching on the religious feelings of a deeply rooted community in this land of the Dhamma whose philosophy embraces tolerance.

It is fervently hoped that the President and Prime Minister would recognize the serious implications of making unwise moves. The plea is to lift the ban. In the best interest of the country, it is suggested to adopt what is called the ‘governmentality’ approach in dealing with the Muslim law reform issues. We love our country and would like to see it stable and prospering.

Let us unite and work to uphold racial harmony, shared national identity, tolerance towards other religions and ethnicities. Champion the cause of spreading love and understanding.  Importantly, to accept and live in the context of a plural society.

*The writer can be reached via email: ctcolumn@yahoo.com

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Latest comments

  • 12
    7

    Mass Usuf, your call for all to unite and work to uphold racial harmony is a noble one. Please start with Muslim community to develop tolerance towards others. The worst racism in Sri Lanka is the claim of Muslims as the owners of eastern province over the heads of others, when it is clear in history that they went their as refugees 400 years ago fleeing persecution by Portuguese. Violence unleashed by Sinhalese on Muslims that your are mentioning is similar to the violence unleashed by Muslims on Tamils. Worst act of terror is by Muslims when nearly 300 people were killed in a single day. Despite Catholics showing restraint, Muslims are not reciprocating to get the real culprits apprehended. In the case of death of a Tamil girl in the house of Badurdeen, there is concerted attempt by Muslim politicians and Muslim media to cover up by distorting the truth. Is the curse by Catholics in church recently acting on Badurdeen.

    • 4
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    • 1
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    • 0
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    • 2
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      Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam,
      While Mass Usuf encourage Muslim community to develop tolerance towards others why don’t you encourage Tamil community to develop tolerance towards Native Sinhalayo and Muslims?
      I hope you have not forgotten what Tamil terrorists did to Native Sinhalayo for three decades to grab their land to create a separate State for Tamils.

      “Please start with Muslim community to develop tolerance towards others.”

    • 3
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      Usuf trying to keep the MMDA going with polygami and marrying women girls under the age of 18 and trying to have Sharia state. He is scared that government will change it. He wants more and more special rights like burka / niquab, in public places, more mosque, Abrab language, sharia law, Madrassas etc.. he is only writing on Islam – he doesnt mention how Rishad’s wife wearing burka is killing and burning the maid.. Islam is a militant religion because people like Usuf have not allowed this religion to evolve into 21st Century… through the required adjustments…

    • 0
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      In May, the Saudi government barred the use of loudspeakers to amplify prayers and sermons at mosques and ordered that the volume of the traditional call to prayer, which has long echoed across the kingdom five times a day, be turned down by two-thirds.

      When a little-known religious leader penned an online article criticizing the decision by the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, he was arrested, according to two Saudi human rights groups, and his once-active Twitter account went silent.

      Then, last month, the head of the federation representing Saudi businesses announced that shops, restaurants and other enterprises would be allowed to remain open during prayer time — another major development in a country where businesses, for decades, have closed five times a day. “Those days of inconvenience are now over,” an article in the English-language Arab News said.

  • 11
    8

    Mass Usuf,
    “The growing trend of marginalization of the Muslims is becoming very visible day by day.”
    —-
    This is a serious allegation. Can you please provide few examples to support your allegation?

    • 3
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      EE,

      It is true.

      Only solution is Sinhala Only Elam. Tamil Elam and Muslim Elam. Accept it at least now without worsening problems for everyone. You will get your Sinhala Only Buddhist nation. Tamils get theirs and Muslims get theirs. What more do you want? Be reasonable. Not too greedy.

      • 10
        1

        G
        Our bread vendor passes our house daily and his van plays the same tune repeatedly from before the time he enters the lane until after he passes it, perhaps 7×52 all day.
        I think that you will give him a good run for his money.

      • 3
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        Pathima Jadam, constantly playing the same tune like a broken record on every discussion. A Fake Arab Salafist Wahhabi Islamic homeland for your immigrant refugee, South Indian origin largely low caste converted Tamil Dravidian community, that is now pathetically trying to masquerade as Gulf Arab Wahhabis. That to only in the Thamizh areas of the island where only 28% of the island’s fake Arab Thullkans live and arrived a few centuries ago as refugees. Just look at the face of the author of this article? Does this person remotely resemble an Arab or any other western Asian, North Indian or Afghan Muslim? The answer is no, Like 95% of he island’s Muslims, he typically looks like a South Indian Dravidian that he really is but constantly coming here and whining about Islam and Arab culture only, like a good converted slave.

        • 3
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          Islam or being a Muslim is not a ethnicity and only a religious identity and the Sri Lankan Muslims are of Thamizh ethnicity, to be precise converted Indian Thamizh Hindu low castes, with itzy bitzy Arab, from the wrong side of the bed. Nothing to crow about or deserving a separate nation. Immigrant refugees, who only arrived a few centuries ago seeking refuge, now trying to use their religion and a fake Arab origin to steal land, only from the Eezham Thamizh as they think they can get away with it. By the way Eezham or Eelam( Land of toddy or metal) is a Thamizh word, that was used to describe the island. Other ancient Thamizh words for the island are Chingkallam meaning the red( soil) land, Cheran Theevu meaning the island of the Chera( Naga) hence Serendib, Illankai, meaning to shine to be resplendent, Why do converted fake Arab South Indian Dravidian Thullkans want to use this Thamizh word? You deny your Thamizh origin and heritatge and claim to be Camel.

          • 3
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            Pandi Kutti,
            The pot calling the kettle black.
            —–
            “….who only arrived a few centuries ago seeking refuge, now trying to use their religion and a fake Arab origin to steal land,…”

            • 1
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              Eagle Thaatha please read. You know the truth but like Pathima Jadam, keep on repeating the same lie, like a broken record

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

              • 2
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                Pandi Kutti,
                Guys who do not have a history in Sinhale/Sri Lanka rely on Wikipedia. Sinhalayo have their own documents e.g. Deepawamsa, Mahawamsa, Chula Wamsa, Seehala Atta Katha that contain historical information about Sinhale. In those documents there is no reference to ‘Ceylon Tamils’. But there is reference to a group called ‘Demala’ who came from Hindusthan as invaders. They were chased away by Sinhalayo. We find the term ‘Ceylon Tamils’ only after census carried out in 1911 by British rulers. May be they are referring to Tamils brought to Sinhale from South India by colonial rulers to work as laborers.

      • 1
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        Muslims are Tamils practising Islam.
        All Tamil speaking people scattered across the island must unite to demand a SEPARATE Homeland.

        Soma

        • 1
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          Can you persuade the Muslims?
          *
          You want to impose an identity on an unwilling people.

          • 1
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            Nonsense they have been brainwashed by their selfish opportunistic elite and politicians, to believe that they are purely descended from Arabs and they are Tamil speaking Arabs, when in reality they are descended from largely low caste converted South Indian Hindu Tamils with a little bit of Arab in certain families. Basically they are Muslim Tamils with a bit of Arab and not Muslim Arabs or Moors with a bit of Tamil. Whether they are unwilling or not this is their true origin and they should be educated and told the truth and not Arabian Nights fables. Even DNA tests prove that they are genetically no different from the island’s Sinhalese or Tamils and their core genetic makeup is South Indian and also very closely related to the South Indian Tamil Muslims. There is below average Arab DNA in them, that too confined to a few hundred families.

            • 1
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              Whether they are willing or unwilling to accept to this truth, thinking that is economically and politically not beneficial to them, is immaterial but this is their real heritage and origin and they have to accept this and be classifies as such. This is like someone conveniently trying to deny their own true parents, as they think they are too poor or not fashionable and claim some other people or distant relatives as their parents and ancestors, as they think it is advantageous to them and others like the Sinhalese and British had encouraged to do this, as it suited them to divide and rule the Tamils and you like a typical Tamil traitor, are also doing the same. If they want to be separated from the Hindu and Christian Tamils that is fine but should be correctly called Muslim Tamils and not Moors. They have a South Indian Dravidian origin and not a North African or Gulf Berber/Arab origin. Tomorrow if I want deny my Tamil origin and claim to be English, just because my Great Grand Mother was English, will I be classified as English? A little bit of Arab or anything else does not make them Arab or anything else. They are still Tamils, whether they like it or not or willing or unwilling. Rubbish reason or excuse .

          • 4
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            Rrishad’s wife and other Muslim women wear Burka and Niqaba and are frustrated and jealous of even the servant women who wear normal clothes.. then the Muslim men go after even servants as they need sex. Thereafter the wives start beating burning and putting the servants into holes and punish them as they can’t even talk to the husband – not given a voice and he has 4 women availability.. Arab housewife maid horrors are now available in SL Muslim houses with Wahabisam and god is great.. think when u go to pray 5 times any other sin is ok???

      • 1
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      • 2
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        GATAM.
        Who are greedy; Sinhalayo who accommodated them in their country or those who want to grab the land of Sinhalayo and Vedda Eththo?
        —-
        “Be reasonable. Not too greedy.”

    • 2
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      “See No Evil, Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil” – importantly
      ‘Remember No Evil’.
      The advent of the 4th monkey to complete the picture.
      Epitome of greatness of all time, shapes and types of Proof Readers turned Editors

  • 5
    1

    ….All values are set in the context of the community……
    This is excellent if there is one community only like in the ME. But in the context of a country where more than one community exists, the different values of each community clash. This is our problem, how to unite in diversity.
    While ” Importantly, to accept and live in the context of a plural society” is laudable and fully endorsed, pushing forward values of one community, necessarily leads to conflict..

    • 6
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      It is very simple. Share! Share. This is what we teach every child. Unfortunately, Our Political leaders and Religious leaders teach only not share but they invest on Shares market.

  • 3
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    The Writer, MLU, bemoans the “growing trend of marginalization of the Muslims” in Sri Lanka and calls upon the GOSL, specifically the President and the Prime Minister, to take the measures necessary to reverse this trend “Lest they be misled into the arena of Islamophobia – by design or in ignorance.”

    MLU continues to make the classic mistake (common among contemporary Muslim writers expounding on the same subject) of placing the blame for the deterioration of relations between the Buddhists and the Muslims almost entirely on the former. He therefore believes that any solution to this issue must be initiated by the Buddhists by identifying ‘where they went wrong’ and rectifying such ‘errors’.

    The Muslims by implication are thereby projected as the ‘innocent party’ to this problem.

    The calls for action on the part of the Buddhists to resolve this problem will continue to fall on deaf ears until the Muslims demonstrate their willingness to be active partners in building bridges between the two communities. This can only be achieved through a process of understanding, compassion and empathy on the part of both parties and not by a misplaced sense of entitlement and exclusivism.

    • 4
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      If the Muslims are beginning to feel marginalized it is partly because they have painted themselves into a corner, and are continuing to do so. They should realize that one doesn’t have to eat, drink, dress and behave like an Arab to be a good Muslim. (Incidentally, are all Arabs ‘good’ Muslims ?). They should commence forthwith a process of de-Arabization of their Community so that they would once more be perceived as ‘Muslim Sri Lankans’, thereby strengthening their badly-weakened National Identity.

      Islamophobia is a pandemic, which has been ravaging the World since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. It’s effects have been felt increasingly in Sri Lanka for more than a decade. Like the Covid-19 virus, it will require the combined efforts of the entire world for it to be eradicated or even brought under control. MLU refers to Islamophobia as if it is the ‘new-kid-in-the-block’ in the case of the Muslim community and wants the GOSL to act before a “Muslim issue” becomes a “full-blown National issue”. He has failed to understand that Islamophobia expressed itself as a ‘National issue’ before being felt as a ‘Muslim issue’.

  • 9
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    Usuf
    Funny you mention the 1983 riots as many muslims were helping sinhalese mobs in that riot.
    Muslims benefited immensely from that riot as they stole a lot of land and businesses of tamils in the aftermath.

  • 7
    1

    Usuf
    It must be mentioned that the principles of Islamic equality and human rights
    —————
    The only countries in the world that give the death penalty for apostasy are islamic

  • 8
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    This writer will ONLY write an article if it has to do with injustice to Muslims in SL…he has NEVER written anything that affects the general population or ones that cannot be identified outside of being Muslim. Why? He wouldn’t give a hoot for the suffering of people other than his own ethnic / religious group. That is why. Sad.

    • 6
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      Ignore all Muslim writers.
      They never try to educate the non Muslims on minority rights in Islamic countries and demand the same level of equality.

      Soma

    • 0
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  • 0
    0

    Hi Mass,
    Reference, “Can you please provide few examples to support your allegation?”
    “Ignorance they say is Bliss” – author unknown!
    “Claim of ignorance after repeated instances published in world renown Publications such as ‘Ceylon Daily Noise’ and sister paper ‘The Observer’ of Lake House publications founded by the prime articulators of the independence movement of Sri Lanka (thanks to Sirimavo a government pocket note book now) are to say the least Eternal Bliss”.
    If this has been claimed by a person who was employed by that institution for atleast 5 years in an important position, then it could be fairly assumed that person has attained ‘Nibbana’.
    Sadhu. Sadhu.

  • 6
    1

    “Recognise and permit the continuation of rights which they have been enjoying for centuries.”
    —-
    Do you mean:
    • Right to practice polygamy
    • Right to marry underage women
    • Right to operate Kathi courts that have a bad reputation for discriminating against women
    • Right to have separate marriage and divorce laws
    —-
    No! It should be ‘One Country, One Law’. Those who are not happy are free to leave.

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