21 July, 2019

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ISIS Will Have No Traction In A Secular Sri Lanka – What Is The Cardinal’s Stand? 

By Amrit Muttukumaru

Amrit Muttukumaru

Even ‘The Island’ newspaper widely perceived to have a strong dislike for a SECULAR state has now been so RATTLED like the rest of the country on learning of the frightful global link to the Easter Sunday carnage that it has uncharacteristically spluttered what was previously thought unthinkable and that too in its editorial of 11 May 2019 – “Theocracy is an anachronism”. ‘Theocracy’ is generally defined as a system of government in which the clergy rule in the name of the religion, God or deity they espouse. To the best of this writer’s knowledge none of the mainline media in Sri Lanka print or otherwise strongly opposed clerics being involved in politics to the extent of (i) contesting elections (ii) being on election platforms (iii) participating in street demonstrations. Unequivocally stating in an Editorial that “Theocracy is an anachronism” goes a long way towards endorsing a secular state. Is this a harbinger of hope for the country?

This writer in his article Cardinal Ranjith Must Seize The Moment For Genuine Reconciliation published in the ‘Colombo Telegraph’ on 5 May 2019 inter alia stated:

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith, Archbishop of Colombo is today in a position where no other political or moral leader has been since 71 years of Sri Lanka’s independence to usher in genuine healing and reconciliation to a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country battered by mistrust and suspicion due to selfish politically induced decisions unleashed by successive administrations since independence in 1948.”

 ‘The Island’ Editorial of 11 May 2019 not only endorsed this view by stating that the Cardinal is “undoubtedly, the most popular Sri Lankan, at present” but even went to the extent of holding him out as deserving nomination not only for the “Nobel Peace Prize” but also “to lead this country as the head of government”. With due respect to the Cardinal it is this writer’s view that much more has to be done for him to deserve such recognition.

Cardinal’s Duty

After the Cardinal’s intemperate outburst in the first flush of the Easter Sunday massacre exhorting the government to “punish them mercilessly”, his subsequent actions were statesmanlike and EXEMPLARY. The massacre led to the tragic death of more than 250 persons many of them children and around 500 injured – the majority of them Catholics attending Easter Sunday Mass. It is largely his moderating influence that brought some sanity to the dangerous and charged situation in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy. It is this that mainly facilitated the robust security operations. 

At the end of the day what he did was HIS DUTY. What makes him STAND OUT is the DISGRACEFUL dereliction of duty by our political leadership – particularly (i) President Sirisena – Minister of Defence and Minister of Law & Order (ii) Ranil Wickremesinghe – Prime Minister (iii) Ruwan Wijewardene – Minister of State for Defence (iv) John Amaratunga – Minister of Tourism Development and Christian Religious Affairs.  All of these so called ‘leaders’ brazenly deny any knowledge of intelligence reports and even visible signs that something sinister was brewing for a long time among the miniscule extremist section of the Muslim community.  

To place matters in perspective a South China Morning Post report dated 25 April 2019 states:

“Bruce Hoffman, a senior fellow for counterterrorism at the Council on Foreign Relations, said as far back as 22 years ago on his first visit to Sri Lanka there were Muslims who were concerned about people being radicalised.”

This takes us to 1997 and beyond to the Presidencies of Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Maithripala Sirisena and the Prime Ministers and governments under them.  Be that as it may, President Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe and Minister of State for Defence, Ruwan Wijewardene take the cake for incompetence and being economical with the truth by claiming to be unaware of repeated intelligence reports. 

Root Cause

It is believed that the root cause of tragedies such as what happened on Easter Sunday, the armed conflict with the LTTE, JVP insurrections and other such instances are the result of mistrust and suspicion among communities due mainly to state sponsored acts of omission and commission. Over the years, minority communities in relation to the overwhelming Sinhala Buddhist majority – for the most part Tamils and Muslims have been at the receiving end of discrimination, indignities and violence unleashed with impunity. The long festering ethnic conflict and the resultant armed conflict came to a controversial end in 2009 in the absence of credible accountability. Reconciliation issues continue to fester. In more recent times, Muslims have been at the receiving end of hate speech and violence unleashed with impunity. It must be emphasised that under no circumstances is the horrendous violence unleashed on Easter Sunday or for that matter by the LTTE, JVP or any other entity justified. Nevertheless the discrimination and fear psychosis unleashed on minorities which still continue with impunity must be flagged.   

The Cardinal is spot on by attributing the main cause for global Islamic terrorism at the doorstep of successive US administrations. He has rightly pointed out that it is due to its furtherance of the commercial interests of the country’s powerful military–industrial complex (MIC) and geo-political interests in which Israel figures prominently. It is widely believed that the US is the main reason for the birth of the radical Islamic Taliban, Al-Qaeda and ISIS. The MIC is defined to be an ‘informal alliance between a nation’s military and defense industry’. 

Sri Lanka can be considered to be either blessed or cursed in being at the cross-roads of big-power rivalry in the major sea lanes of the Indian Ocean. If we were smart (which we are not) this could have been a blessing. Sadly it appears that those at the political helm of successive administrations who are for the most part mediocre and corrupt with little understanding of geo-political realities are contributing to making it a curse. The Easter Sunday carnage is an example. The widely perceived involvement of foreign personnel based in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday tragedy could prove to be problematic. The mutual sharing of intelligence is another matter entirely.

Secular State 

Sri Lanka although a tiny country is today due to our collective STUPIDITY caught up in the maelstrom of global geo-politics and terror. Successive administrations in pursuance of political power have manipulated the country’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious fabric to set us up against each other by distorting history and appealing to humanity’s lurking base instincts. Such an environment is conducive for the birth and nurturing of a fifth column. The results have come home to roost over the years culminating in what we witnessed on Easter Sunday. 

A major cause that keeps this country down in terms of economic and social development apart from widespread corruption is the absence of national unity which can only come if no section of its population feels subservient and disabled. This is particularly so in a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country such as Sri Lanka where each of these formations have a rich and proud history second to none. We have gone against the flow of nature and committed hara-kiri by giving “foremost place” to Buddhism in the Constitution. We have even gone well beyond this by those wielding political, bureaucratic, law enforcement and media powers dinning this into the subconscious of the majority and minority communities with disastrous consequences.

Ponder for a moment, what has been the action taken on those of the minuscule section of the majority community who over the years have and still harass, humiliate, discriminate and cause violence of different degrees to minority communities?

In the current political scenario it is only Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera who has been a lone voice of sanity. He has had the courage to state that Sri Lanka is NOT a Sinhala-Buddhist country in the sense that it belongs to ALL communities. He is taking immense flak politically and otherwise for this. In this connection, what can we make of the criticism of Samaraweera by Mano Ganesan Minister of National Integration, Official Languages and Hindu Religious Affairs who has affirmed that Sri Lanka is indeed a “Sinhala Buddhist country”. Given that his constituency mainly consists of ethnic Tamils, this is confusing. Is it out of FEAR that he has said this? 

It is said that a nation’s greatness and civility is measured by how it treats its weaker members. By this yardstick Sri Lanka is uncivilized and a bully. 

At this point I flag my strong reservations on the management of the economy by Finance Minister Samaraweera.  It includes the Central Bank which falls under his purview. The long overdue ‘forensic audit’ by the Central Bank of the egregious Treasury Bond scam which was a key recommendation of the report of the Presidential Commission of Inquiry is now almost forgotten. The Easter Sunday carnage apart from badly wounding the national psyche has further debilitated an already weakened economy on the ‘Grey List’ of the ‘Financial Action Task Force’ and subsequent ‘Black List’ of the European Union for money laundering. One suspects that money laundering and Sri Lanka developing into a regional hub for illicit drugs may have also facilitated the Easter Sunday carnage.

Conclusion

Despite the Cardinal’s known controversial position on issues of Secular State and Human Rights, it was hoped that the wake-up call (if indeed one was needed) given by the Easter Sunday carnage where the majority of those tragically losing their lives and injured were Catholics, would motivate the Cardinal to change track. Sadly this does not appear to have happened. The country must ensure that those who so tragically lost their lives many of them children did not die in vain.

It is disappointing to learn from the media:

i) That the Cardinal has “rejected” the view expressed by TNA Parliamentarian M.A. Sumanthiran that it was “the failure on the part of successive governments to address the grievances of minorities over the past several decades had led to the Easter Sunday carnage”.

ii) The Cardinal attributing the Easter Sunday carnage MERELY to “some misguided local youth had been used by an international group to carry out multiple attacks in Sri Lanka”

iii) The Cardinal and the Most Ven. Ittapane Dhammalankara Nayaka Thera being on the same page in opposition to the view expressed by Mangala Samaraweera. They both are of the view 

“it could not be disputed that Sri Lanka was a Buddhist country”

The knuckleheads in politics from all hues who are supposed to guide the destiny of this country must understand the limitations of a military response and appreciate that addressing the root cause for the ills in this country is paramount. Without unity in the context of Sri Lanka being a multi-ethnic and multi-religious country, any tangible progress is a pipe dream. 

The only person who could TODAY pull off the goal of a SECULAR state is Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith who has the goodwill and respect of almost the entire country virtually eating out of his hand. This is the moment he must seize and not fritter away for any extraneous reasons. This is his moment and the moment for the country to demonstrate the entry path towards true reconciliation. It will be very difficult for even firebrand instigators of hate and dissension to oppose this. 

Most Ven. Ittapane Dhammalankara Nayaka Thera has quoted the Cardinal as having said:

“a person could become the President and Prime Minister of this country, no matter what religious or ethnic group one belongs to,”

This is excellent news. Clarification from the Cardinal as having said this will be appreciated.

If the Cardinal is able to pull off the goal of a SECULAR state which means (i) Religion and Politics will have no connection (ii) No constitutional provision for any religion (iii) Clergy of all religions will be barred from political activities – he will deserve more than the “Nobel Peace Prize”!

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Latest comments

  • 0
    11

    a person could become the President and Prime Minister of this country, no matter what religious or ethnic group one belongs to,

    Amrit Muthukumaru: You are badgering the Cardinal because you are not Catholic, probably Protestant
    Sri lanka is a Secular country. Even though constitution says buddhism is the major religion Country never suppressed other religions. All other religions are thriving. but, there is a problem with Islam and christianity. the reasons are USA wants christianity established in Asia because that is part of the Neo-liberal game as Therevada buddhism is very difficult for them to handle in their way. ISlam has been destroyed by using the Wahhabism Cult. Spreading of Wahhabism and exploitation is by UK and USA, Wahabis are stupid. anyway, Saudi Arabia says they have eliminated Wahhabism from their country and the King is changed. Yet, the Western spy agencies need Wahabis in their programs.
    You hate buddhism and you hate Catholicism. that is what you say.
    Tell me, did not a Tamil contest for PResident post. Has any one banned Contesting PM or PResident posts by any one other than from Sinhala or buddhsit. Itis you Protestants and the International community who use Sinhala buddhist sin UNF and UPFA, so they can devide the Buddhist vote and Destroy the country.
    Mangala ais a CIA agent and he is not educated. His education is Only designing women’s underware and Lingarie. So, he destroys Sri lanka in order to stay an american boy toy. there are many agent sin UNP side.

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      The Sunday Island and Daily Island are edited by two different people. The Daily is Sinhala Buddhist in tone, while the Sunday is much more liberal, carrying pieces by Kumar David and Rajan Philips

  • 9
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    The President( being the SLFP chairman) and Rajapaksa clan in the Opposition turn a blind eye for what was going to happen on the 21/04/19 in order to cause riots and use it to benefit them in the future Election.
    The Cardinal if he was really concerned about all the Sri Lankans, he could have easily guided Rajapaksa to turn SL a peaceful and progressive country

  • 2
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    If human beings had not been distracted by religion and wasted their time, money and energy on it over the course of history but had instead focused on science and technology, we could by now have established a thriving colony on Mars, with seasonal connecting flights.

    • 5
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      Amrit Muttukumar

      In North and East Tamil mothers have been engaged in protests daily over two years for the ( 1 ) release of their lands occupied by the Armed forces ( 2) release of their kith and kin kept in prisons over ten to fifteen years without any charge or some charged under involuntary confession but no speedy trial ( 3 ) release of information as to the whereabouts of their family members taken by armed forces and in some cases surrendered to the Army. These mothers had gone to Colombo and engaged in protests there with the help of good hearted Sinhalese brothers and sisters but there is no relief up to now. My question to you Amrit is why didn’t Malcom Ranjith, ” who has the goodwill and respect of almost the entire country ” and ” must seize the moment for genuine reconciliation ” did not raise his voice not even once in support of these mothers ? What was the reason ? Can you please ask him to answer.

  • 0
    8

    Brilliant .. Thank you Sir, Mr Muthukumara..

    Our Cardinal should join Mangala Samaraweera and get rid of the ISIS for ever..

    Wonder what Bathudeen, Assath Sally, Hezbulla, Mujibur Rahuman and the other Yahapalana politicians are going to do after ISIS leave the Island…-

    BTW, Are there any ISIS in Lankawe?…

  • 0
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    acc to ranjith sl belongs to catholics and buddhists not muslims and hindus

  • 14
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    The biggest Joke is, someone proposing a Nobel Peace prize for the Cardinal. He is a shameless Rajapakshe stooge who obtained personal favors from the Rajapakshe government and therefore it is obvious that the Cardinal will be obliged to preach a political sermon in favor of the Rajapakshes. The Rajapakshes want this to be a Sinhala-Buddhist country (because only the Sinhala-Buddhists vote for them) and the Cardinal accepts every bull crap that the Rajapakshes utter. How dare the Cardinal shamelessly proclaim that this is a Sinhala-Buddhist Country and Buddhism should hold the foremost place in Sri Lanka? The Rajapakshes and the opposition including some racist Buddhist monks are very happy to quote the Cardinal as if the Cardinal is the authority for all other than the Sinhala-Buddhists. The Cardinal only represents the Catholic Church and not anyone else. He does not represent the Non-Catholic Christians, Muslims and the Hindus.

    • 0
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      Not even all Catholics in Sri Lanka. His authority is only in the Colombo Diocese comprising of Colombo, Gampaha and Kalutara Districts. Other areas comes under the purview of the respective bishops.

  • 1
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    Lessons Learnt:
    .
    1) The most important lesson we can learn from all this is that we do not learn from our past mistakes.
    .
    2) The second lesson is that the purpose of propaganda is to make us forget that certain other sets of people are also human.
    .
    3) The third is that we are so stupid that we expect politicians to utter the same words that have been uttered by certain religious leader.
    .
    4) The fourth is that if you want a riot to be taken as spontaneous, then start it immediately after the triggering event. a delay is taken as a period of planning.

  • 2
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    The cardinal represents ONLY the catholics in Colombo.

  • 7
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    “a person could become the President and Prime Minister of this country, no matter what religious or ethnic group one belongs to,”

    Looks beautiful. Will it possible in Srilanka? Even Lord Buddha born as a Tamil or Sonakar he cannot become PM or President in this land.

  • 2
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    Appe Cardinal is a rebirth of Jesus with love, compassion and maithriya. Only thing he must stop spreading his agama in a Buddhist country using the poor helpless people as scapegoats. We had the crusaders, then Portughese, and now the Christian missionaries infiltrating into poor countries like SL and India to name a few. Quite rightly our “Sinhala Racist Reserve Regiment” periodically attacked the mushrooming churches, when they were not busy with the minorities. Yet His Eminence Cardinal is carrying on. This Muslim attack was God sent (or Allah sent), he has become an overnight hero, Nobel Prize nominee, most popular Sri Lankan and even an active politician and possible a Presidential candidate. He is every where spreading his compassion and love. He had even rejected a Bullet Proof Car offered by Failure Ranil. So what next? Climb up the ladder like what the Muslims did during Velu’s time and thereafter, and then face the wrath of the Bumi Putras, the usual and an inevitable outcome of their uncontrollable phobia and irishiyawa. So who is next is the question? Lancias left, Dhemalus destroyed, Thambiyas pulverised and who is next?

  • 1
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    The Sunday Island and Daily Island are edited by two different people. The Daily is Sinhala Buddhist in tone, while the Sunday is much more liberal, carrying pieces by Kumar David and Rajan Philips

  • 5
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    If the Sinhala and English papers are not racist then they can’t sell the papers in Dhamma Deepa. When you are in Rome be like a Roman. When you are in Dhamma Deepa be a racist. What did Anagarika say before escaping to North India? Be a racist always and that is enough and thou shall be united as the chosen people of Dhamma Deepa. Racism is more important than development or prosperity to the Sons of the soil.

    Can anyone remember the Mysore parippu and Bombay Lunu era of the maubima heroes? The jokers thoght Mysore parippu came from Mysore and Bombay onion came from a Bombay like how Vijayan came from Orissa? Later the heroes changed the name to rathu parippu, and Lokku lunu. Our guys are very unique due to serious lack of identity and severe complex. However much they manipulate and rewrite history no one is taking it seriously. Now they say Sita is Ravana’s cousin! So what, still Ravana is not a Sinhala. But among themselves they have now made it that Ravana is a Sinhala and Sita just came to just visit him. Now they are laying hands in Ramayana and if Mad Modi comes back these guys may face serious wrath of Lord Shiva. Don’t tamper with history and be contended with what Mahanama said around 600 After CE.

  • 2
    6

    Amrit Muttukumaru submits: Had SL been secular the ‘tragedy’ that was the 2019 Lankan Easter Sunday would not have happened.
    Amrith joins hundreds of others attempting to find explanations.
    .
    Lankan Muslims have accepted the blame for the ‘tragedy’. They have apologised.
    .
    Did the actions of the right-wing extreme nationalist outfit, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) hasten the radicalisation of the Muslim radicals? MR adopted. protected and bestowed impunity to BBS. GR patronised BBS. Gnanasara Thero, the founder of BBS was presented as a defender of Buddhism.
    .
    Indulge in lateral thinking and research Amrith.

  • 0
    0

    What are the favors the cardinal got from the rajapakses?

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