Colombo Telegraph

Islamophobia And The Sri Lankan Media

By Hameed Abdul Karim

Hameed Abdul Karim

In recent times there have been a string of articles in the Sri Lanka print media ranging from claims that terrorist groups like Al Qaeda are firmly entrenched in Sri Lanka to ISIL cells straining at the leash just to wreak havoc in the country at the drop of the hat. All they need is an order from their ‘caliph’. That’s the impression that has been created in the minds of ‘news’ consumers.

In a TV interview, not long ago, a BBS demagogue said he had seen Al Qaeda cadres training in the east of Sri Lanka with his ‘own eyes’.  The military rejected this ‘eye witness account’ out of hand.

So what’s this all about?

The cheap and unsubstantiated anti Islam and anti Muslim propaganda is about fostering a fear psychosis among non-Muslims in Sri Lanka and elsewhere. It certainly seems like there is some agenda somewhere in the higher echelons of world powers to create fear and animosity against Muslims and Islam amongst non-Muslims all over the world and the savagery of terror groups like ISIL help the propagandists in no small measure. Any propagandist or spin doctor will tell you that hate follows fear and that’s when all hell breaks loose.

Two of the foreign spy agencies that are forever claiming Pakistan’s ISI is behind the training of ‘Islamic Terrorists’ in Sri Lanka are India’s RAW and IB. This issue even cropped up when President Mahinda Rajapaksa met with India’s Premier Narendra Modi, who is no stranger to conspiracy theories about Pakistani involvement in terrorism. He is also well known for orchestrating racial violence and is quite adept at rousing communal passions against Indian Muslims in his Hindutva rhetoric. It was he, and not any foreign agency, who orchestrated anti Muslim riots in his Gujarat that left nearly 2000 Muslims dead and thousands homeless. The objective was to hit at the Muslim economy. A copy book event took place in Aluthgama and Beruwala, though mercifully the BBS inspired mobs did not target human life to the extent that Modi did.

Up until today Indian spy agencies have not provided any evidence for their claims that Pakistan is training ‘terrorists’ in Sri Lanka.

Rahul Gandhi had said he feared Hindutva terrorism and not the so called ‘Muslim terrorism’.

Besides, Indian spy agencies like RAW should be the last to talk about terrorism knowing only too well what they did in Sri Lanka.

The latest in a series of such stories in the Sri Lanka print media comes from the Sunday edition of Ceylon T0day (Ceylon Today 12 October 2014) where we have Sulochana Ramiah Mohan reporting an interview she had with a certain Dr. Robert B. Lloyd of the virtually unheard of Pepperdine University of California. Though nowhere in the said article Dr. Lloyd had said the ISIS or Al Qaeda are directly involved in terror activities in Sri Lanka he nevertheless pursues the American agenda on Islamophobia hinting there is a possibility of terror groups entering Sri Lanka in the very same way US ‘scholars’ went after ‘reds under your beds’ during the McCarthy inspired terror against alleged communists in the US. Any US citizen who didn’t toe the establishment line created by the White Anglo Saxon Protestants (WASPS) was dubbed a ‘commie’.

Dr. Robert Lloyd’s purpose in the article was to create a fear psychosis against Muslims and quite naturally in such strategies facts do not matter. Take for example his assertion the ‘ISIS members are mainly Shias….’. The ISIS is anything but Shia. But then truth is irrelevant when quasi scholars go on a scare mongering spree. After all Islamophobia is a multimillion dollar industry in the US where Dr. Lloyd lives and does business.

Patrick O. Strickland had noted in a study how ‘anti-Muslim bigotry had become a profitable business for a number of groups and individuals on the right’. Heading the groups is neo-conservative Zionist Daniel Pipes ‘who has a long history of issuing sweeping condemnations of all Muslims and is a key financer in the Islamophobia industry’.

The Islamophobia industry has succeeded immensely in generating fear of Islam and Muslims among those who are of other persuasions. As a result Muslims have been targeted here in Sri Lanka and elsewhere in the world. Recently in Australia the extreme right wing media empire of the disgraced Rupert Murdoch had generated so much enmity against Muslims that violence against Muslims is becoming more frequent.  An Australian paper ‘The Age’ (Victoria) reported that attacks on Muslims had spiked after Australia decided to join the US led ‘Coalition of the Willing’ (COW) against ISIL. The article was titled ‘Attacks on Muslim Mothers Mount’.

The Sri Lankan media, and especially journalists like Sulochana Ramiah Mohan, should skip the trite pages of Islamophobia and takes a dekho at the other side of the narrative instead of following the agenda of the hate hawkers.

Still I’ll bet my bottom petro dollar this will not be the last ‘hate Islam and Muslims’ story you will see in your media.  That’s because the Islamophobia industry is a tremendous money spinner. So stay alert.

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