11 August, 2022

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Lanka-Arab Relations

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Introduction

If there is one area that needs serious reparation in the current context of economic catastrophe, it is that of Lanka-Arab relations. Arab connection with Sri Lanka is millennial old. From the time when Arab traders set foot on this island, sometime in the 8th century if not earlier, mutual interests between the Muslim Caliphate and Sri Lanka’s Buddhist monarchy evolved into a relationship that was unique in the annals of Asian history. While spices, precious stones and forest products from the “land of rubies” or jeziratul yaqut, as was known to the Arab world, found their way to the largest market in the world at that time – the caliphate, and via Arab merchants crossed into Europe, the legendary fame of Adams Peak among the Sufis of Islam combined with Buddhist influence in the Abbasid caliphal court of the Barmakids – an Iranian family from Balkh and hereditary Buddhist leaders attached to the Nawbahar monastery, a fact completely ignored in researches of local historians, began the flow of Muslim pilgrim tourists to the island. It was from those traders and tourists cum mendicants the nucleus of a Muslim community of Sri Lanka was born. From then onwards Arab-Lankan relations developed continuously over centuries that in 1283 when King Bhuvanekabahu I sent an emissary to the Mamluk Sultan of Egypt for a commercial deal, the monarch described in his epistle that Sri Lanka was Egypt and Egypt was Sri Lanka. Long before that in early 8th century, the Umayyad invasion of Sind in India was provoked by Rajah Dahir’s capture of Muslim women travelling from Sri Lanka, which was reported to the caliph by the Lankan monarch. The monarch’s desire to ingratiate himself with a rising power in that part of the world was obvious. This is not the place to detail this fascinating history but to drive home an important historical point that nowhere in the recorded history of Asia that one could find a parallel to the religiously, economically and even politically intertwined relationship that existed between the minority Arabs and their mixed descendants and majority Buddhists as in Sri Lanka. That exceptional record with a short disruption in 1915 continued smoothly until the end of the colonial era in 1948.

Muslim Window after Independence

After independence and right through the decades when Sinhalese-Tamil relations deteriorated to the point of military confrontation, it was through the Muslim community that Sri Lankan governments demonstrated to the world its acceptance of the nation’s ethnic and religious pluralism. In that demonstration, it was through the Muslim window that those governments showed the Arab World Sri Lanka’s hospitality to Islam and its followers. It worked immensely well and to the benefit of both with Sri Lanka’s non-aligned foreign policy. The year 1976 was a memorable one to the island when for the first time in its history the government hosted the NAM conference in Colombo and spread the red carpet to welcome a galaxy of Muslim leaders from Middle East and North America (MENA). One cannot quantify the benefits accrued to Sri Lanka, but the country’s reputation in MENA reached its summit in consequence. Just to point out two instances, one during Sirimavo’s leftist coalition government and the other during JR’s presidency. The former faced a foreign exchange crisis and the other an oil crisis. To get assistance for the first, Sirimavo dispatched her Minister of Education Badiuddin Mahmud to the Arab world, and to meet the oil crisis JR sent his Foreign Minister Hameed to Libya. In both instances outcomes were prompt and positive. Even today, it is MENA and particularly its Arab half that had come to the rescue of an otherwise unemployed surplus Sri Lankan labour and it is that labour’s hard-earned dollars that fills at least part of the coffers of government’s treasury. In these gloomy days, only those families that have someone from their members working in a foreign country are able to make both ends meet. A majority of them are working in MENA.

Curtain Over the Window

Regrettably, since the time of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency from 2005, and in particular, after its victory over the LTTE in 2009, there had been a sharp shift in Sri Lanka’s attitude towards pluralism. This shift has thrown a dark curtain to cover the Muslim window blocking the view to and from the Arab half of MENA. The ideology of Sinhala-Buddhist supremacy born out of ethnonationalism is a post-independence phenomenon that views the island’s minorities as aliens to be tolerated rather than accepted as Sri Lankans as it was during the pre-colonial era. This pernicious ideology was systematically theorized and propagated by a group of politicians, intellectuals, academics and priests who in their post war triumphalism turned attention towards Muslims. Having defeated the Tamil enemy, they saw no reason to keep the Muslim window open to exhibit pluralism to the world. In their view and as openly expressed by one of the priests on June 7th 2020 in Kandy, Sri Lanka belongs only to Sinhala Buddhists and the others are their long-term tenants. The current president Gotabaya Rajapaksa (GR) is in many ways an embodiment of this ideology.

It is true that even when the Muslim window was open there were periodical skirmishes between Muslims and Sinhalese. But they were localized, sporadic and lacked any ideological grounding. Governments of that time were quick to send security forces to put down those outbreaks before the news spread to the world outside. All that changed after 2009 as anti-Muslim violence was systematically encouraged beginning with the Aluthgama riots in 2014. The Defense Secretary at that time who was none other than GR took no action to counter it. His tolerance sent the wrong message to security forces and they became onlookers when similar occurrence took place in Ampara, Digana, Kandy, Minuwangoda and several other places.

To the Sinhala Buddhist ideologues (SBI) and their activists, Tamils are separatists determined to divide the country and create an Eelam. To the sympathizers of LTTE on the other hand, they want a Tamil Eelam to coexist with a Sinhala Eelam. But to SBI, Muslims are far more dangerous than Tamils, because they are deemed as Islamizers of the whole nation. The old and discredited Western concoction of Quran in one hand and sword in the other still rules the minds of SBI in some modified form. The Indian Tableeghi Jamaat missionary movement (TJ) that entered in late 1950s, and Saudi Wahhabism that found its way via expatriate Muslim labour in 1980s became their chief targets of attack. The fact that neither of these movements have any intention of converting non-Muslims to Islam involuntarily escaped the minds of SBI. Worse than that, what SBI fears most is the exaggerated fecundity of Muslim women to upset the demographic dominance of Sinhala Buddhists. As a corollary to that fear was the baseless accusation of Muslim restaurants and retail fashion outlets to mix contraceptives in their products to Sinhalese men and women to prevent them having children. The scandalous accusation of a Muslim obstetrician and gynecologist said to have sterilized 4,000 Sinhalese women led to a media trial and anti-Muslim frenzy among Buddhist demagogues.

Worse was to follow the macabre incident of 2018 Easter Massacre of Christian worshippers by a bunch of Muslim lunatics operating under the directions of a mastermind. What is more criminal than this massacre is the shelving of the investigation report by a commission appointed by the president himself. More than Muslims it is the Catholic community that is now crying in vain for that report to be released and justice to be met for its victims. But the regime, to put the blame squarely on Muslims is behaving like a lunatic bent on a mission to destroy anything and everything that relates to Islam or Muslims. Books on Islam, translations of the Quran, Muslim personal laws, madrasas, mosques and Muslim attire have all come under the suspicious eyes of the country’s law. The president’s order to cremate bodies of Covid dead Muslims purely on the advice of a soil scientist masquerading as epidemiologist was a calculated negation of a basic human right that shocked the world of Islam. This Islamophobia has pulled a dark curtain covering the Muslim window to the Arab world. The consequence of this madness has come to bite practically every Sri Lankan now.

Arab Oil and Largesse

Sri Lanka has been officially declared bankrupt. Evils of malnutrition, undernourishment and starvation have entered the doors of many a household. Darkness rules days and nights. Peoples’ mobility has been crippled by acute shortages of petrol, diesel and gas fuel, the lifeblood of modern economies. A penniless government is begging internationally for food, fuel, medicine and other consumer essentials. On the other hand, the Arab world has plenty of fuel as well as money to purchase the rest. It opened its largesse in the past to help Sri Lanka, but has been constrained to do so now because of the dark curtain. The Arab governments showed their displeasure through a motion passed through OIC in 2020 on the eve of the UNHRC session in Geneva. The message was clear. Reopen the window, or, in diplomatic terms, mend the damaged foreign relations between Sri Lanka and MENA.

In response, all that the regime could do was to send its Foreign Minister, a man whose complicity in all injustices done to minorities is well known, to dialogue with his counterparts. In addition, the president himself met Arab ambassadors in Colombo appealing for help. Insultingly and in desperation, he was reported to have approached a Maldivian Muslim intermediary to talk to Arab governments. So far, no success. Why? Simply because, the Muslim window is virtually shut.

The regime should also understand that unlike India, China or the West, MENA does not have any geostrategic interest in Sri Lanka. Its relations with Sri Lanka had been governed by economic, cultural and humanitarian objectives.

Non-state Interlocutors

Soon after the Bali bombing in 2002 that killed 88 Australians and 38 Indonesians, and strained Australia-Indonesia relations significantly, the Howard Government took a number of constructive steps to bring back normalcy between the two countries. Just as the Sri Lankan Muslim community is a window to MENA the Australian Muslim community is a window to South East Asia and notably to Indonesia and Malaysia. One such step was to send a gender mixed Australian Muslim delegation to those countries and the Philippines as non-state interlocutors to meet Muslim organizations and large Muslim gatherings to explain how Islam and Muslims were treated in multicultural Australia and how they were misrepresented by the so-called Islamists. It is not possible to quantify the benefits of such delegations but they help to improve inter-state relations.

Why shouldn’t the Sri Lankan government try at this critical time to send non-state interlocutors to canvass on behalf of the country and its people for public and private assistance from Islamic countries? But before doing that ground situation for Muslims at home must change to the better. Given the obstinacy and obduracy of SBI and their acolytes that is not possible without systemic change as emphatically and rightly demanded by the young minds behind aragalaya. It is that ideology that had kept closed until today and allowed animals, snakes and bushes to invade 400 houses built for Muslim tsunami victims by the Saudi Government. How anti-Muslim, parochial, jealous and vengeful could these ideologues be, who do not want poor Muslims to receive special favours from foreign governments? In the name of the most supreme humanist that history has ever witnessed, Gautama the Buddha, these political Buddhists are prepared to mortgage his name to hold on to power. The current regime, a product of that ideology, is incapable of initiating systemic change. The stopgap Prime Minister is misusing that concept to hoodwink agitators. He seems to believe that his fiscal measures and the negotiations with IMF would lead to systemic change. On the contrary, they are means to strengthen the status quo that has bankrupted the country and pauperized its people. With that ideology on driver’s seat, it would be difficult for Lanka-Arab relations to resume their pre-Rajapaksa normalcy.

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

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Latest comments

  • 7
    0

    The combination of (falsely believed to be a magician) Prime minister, and(apparently)mighty ,but (actually) weak President will not take our motherland anywhere other than to misery upon misery. Simple solution is to continue the Aragalaya until “Both Go Home”.

  • 12
    6

    The author is being rather Muslim-centric .
    “Arab connection with Sri Lanka is millennial old. From the time when Arab traders set foot on this island, sometime in the 8th century if not earlier, “.
    The Arabs weren’t always Muslims. Middle Easterners have visited this region long before the 8th century. The still thriving Syrian Christians of India bear witness to that. There surely would have been exchanges even in pre-Christian times.

    • 7
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      OC
      There will be conscientious objections to your suggestion from people who insist that all Muslims here are low caste South Indian Tamil converts to Islam.

      • 12
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        All Muslims in Sri Lanka are not low-case South Indian Tamil converts to Islam but the vast overwhelming majority of them are and this is the truth and it has nothing to do with me being casteist or racist or whatever you want to call me. The vast overwhelming majority of the Muslims in the Indian subcontinent are descended from low-caste Hindus who largely converted to escape the Hindu caste system. Many upper castes also converted largely forcibly converted or converted because of conviction, and in places like Kashmir and the north-western parts of India now Pakistan or North East( Bangla Desh) , it was wholesale conversion through conquering forced conversion and through conviction. Despite many Muslims in the north or south of the Indian subcontinent or Sri Lanka, either claiming Arab. Mughal, Persian or Afghan or another Central Asian ancestry 90% of them do not have any of these ancestries and are descended from Indian Hindu converts to Isam.

        • 7
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          SSS,
          You haven’t completed your (Google) search yet it seems. Think about “Marriakkars” from Kerela , who have been established well in ( West coast) Colombo to Mannar, are they low caste? The above is just one example. Caste system is a fabricated element in society for manipulation. Who the hell are those who categorised people like upper and lower class. Which class do you think you belong to and how you are different from a low class person, if you’re a pseudo upper class one

          • 10
            4

            Marrikars are an ethnic Tamil Muslim caste, and many of them migrated later to Kerala. The Muslims from southern and south-central parts of Kerala are ethnic Tamil immigrants from Tamil Nadu. The native Malayali Mappila Muslims are largely found in the north and north-central parts of Kerala. The late Indian president and the father of Indian Atomic technology Dr Abdul Kalam is from the Marriakar community and was very proud of his Tamil heritage and language. It is these Tamil Muslim Mariakkars who migrated from Kerala to the Mannar and other parts of the west coast, however, the vast majority of the west coast Muslims are not from the Marriaker community but Tamil Mukkuvas who converted to Islam. Just like along the east coast. The Tamil Mukkuvas who converted to Catholicism retained their Tamil identity but now are fast converting to Sinhalese identity.

            • 10
              4

              There is some Arab amongst the male line amongst the Marriakers but the female line is pure Tamil and low caste. Upper or Middle caste Hindus would have never given their daughters to outside Muslim Arabs. Only the lower castes and untouchables. Even most of the Male line amongst the Marriakar is Tamil. Remember at the time all this happened, both Kerala and Tamil Nadu as well as large parts of southern Karnataka and Andhra were all Tamil. The Malayalam language and ethnicity developed much later. Even when the Portuguese arrived the masses of Kerala were speaking a form of Tamil and identifying themselves as Tamils and at times Malabar. Malabar Tamil or Malayalam then was the western Chera Tamil dialect, completely different from the modern Malayalam language, which is highly Sanskritized and took the same name as the local Tamil dialect. This is why these two terms got confused.

          • 3
            10

            AN
            There are people who try to elevate their social standing by demeaning others.
            It is a complex that is hard to battle,

            • 3
              0

              “There are people who try to elevate their social standing by demeaning others.
              It is a complex that is hard to battle,”

              Look who’s talking.

          • 6
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            Ahmad Nadvi,

            Forget about caste! Whether they were low caste or high caste!.

            The most important fact is that they are all Indians, nothing to do with Arab of Persian ancestry?

            Majority of Sri Lankan Muslims are of South Indian origin and that they are recent immigrants to Sri Lanka and as a consequence, they have a lot in common with the Sri Lankan Tamils!

            • 7
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              Sri Krish, you are correct. SJ deliberately started this debate, wanting a furore so that he can be the hero and others took the bait.

            • 0
              3

              “The most important fact is that they are all Indians, nothing to do with Arab of Persian ancestry? “
              What makes one so sure?
              The research of SSS, PK et all, the DNA experts?
              Read Prof. Lorna Dewaraja.

              • 4
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                We do not read trash written that was by a pseudo-historian/anthropologist, that was most probably funded and sponsored by interested parties to deliberately mislead and distance the island’s Muslims from their actual Thamizh/Indian origin and heritage, for political purposes, to use Arabize them and use them as a tool to marginalize the island’s Thamizh and create a fake history and a fake Arab origin for them. Most probably you are being paid to be the promoter of this trash, from the way you are promoting this and trashing actual scientific DNA and historical evidence. You can lie but DNA never lies. Sri Lankan Muslims are descended from Arabs with below-average Arab genetic input, confined to a few hundred families, who have distant male Arab ancestors. These people will not amount to even 100000 the most out of a population of 2 million Sri Lankan Moors. Around 5%. A distant male Arab or two ancestors in around 100000 so-called Sri Lankan Moors, where all the rest of the ancestors are Thamizh, makes them and the other 95%, who are of pure Thamizh origin, all Arab descended and connected to
                a handful of ancient Western Asian traders and emissaries, who came to the island. What utter rubbish.

                • 3
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                  Stick to reading the novel Lora Doone by R D Blackmoore, a better read.

          • 8
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            Ahmed sorry I just read your reply to me, therefore did not answer. However, have already noticed another person has replied to your comment addressed to me and given the reply. I have already given the answer to these questions many times and do not like to go on repeating myself. Noticed others have read all my replies and what I have previously stated with regards to this and many other topics and have used this and even researched and added to this. I am very glad, as I myself googled and got this information and used them. Knowledge is to be shared and used not kept to oneself or say I own this, as I first posted this. Then there is no use of this knowledge truth or information. Thanks for reading my comment and taking the time to reply. Hope you and your family are safe and have the adequate essentials and food. I am very happy to have taken the decision to migrate to Australia from the Gulf. Take care.

          • 0
            11

            Ahmad Nadvi,

            “Which class do you think you belong to and how you are different from a low class person, if you’re a pseudo upper class one”

            These Vellalars are farm workers brought from TN by the Dutch and British. They are considered low-caste according to the traditional caste system:

            “Despite being a relatively lowly group, they were dominant communities in Tamil agrarian societies for 600 years until the decline of the Chola empire in the 13th century.”

            Some of them were given civil service positions in the Ceylon government during British times. These government jobs were cushy and high privilege. That is why Ponnambalam wanted 50-50 representation (a rubbish demand). These Jaffna elites never cared about Tamil rights. They wanted to retain their caste privileges. They will never recognize Muslims as equal, since Islam is an entirely different religion. They don’t even recognize Eastern Tamils as equals.

            • 6
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              Ironic a descendant of Thamizh Pandarar who migrated to the island, around the 16th/17Th century to the Kandyan areas, now happily settled somewhere in London, for the good life, by using the war as an excuse to conveniently run away, posting anti-Thamizh garbage. Recently Chingkalized South Indian Thamizh immigrant communities now beating the anti-Thamizh drum and posting racist rubbish and lies against the indigenous Thamizh

              • 2
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                Sinhalese are not descended from Tamils. No one believes your fake history.

                “In the opinion of Sanyal, the image of the lion on the Sri Lankan flag and the religious symbolism of the lion in Odisha and Bengal have the same cultural origins.”

                “But it is not just mythology that reflects upon this connection. In his study titled “Genetic affinities of Sri Lankan Populations”, Gautam Kumar Kshatriya found that 25.41 per cent of the genetic make up on the Sinhalese population was contributed by the Bengalis. Linguistically too, scholars have for long remarked upon the Indo-Aryan origins of the Sinhalese speech.”

                “In his celebrated account on the development of the Bengali language, Suniti Kumar Chatterjee comments upon the Indo-Aryan content in the Sinhalese speech in the following words: “The first immigrants who carried the Indo-Aryan speech to Ceylon seem to have been from the Western Indian coast. Later from 3rd century BC onwards Ceylon seems to have come in touch with Magadha through Bengal and traditions of intimate connections between Bengal and Ceylon are preserved in Bengali literature.”

                • 2
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                  Yes, the Chingkallams are pure Aryans, with Dark Dravidian South Indian looks and DNA, culture, customs, dress and food habits and the Sri Lankan Muslims or Moors as they love to call themselves are pure Arabs, again with largely dark Dravidian South Indian looks and DNA, speaking Tamil not Arabic and until they decided to Arabize themselves, following South Indian Tamil Islamic culture and customs. Happy satisfied. By the way, have you visited your ancestral village in Thamizh Nadu from where your Pandarar relatives migrated from and contacted all your close relatives there? ” The first immigrants who carried the Indo-Aryan speech to Ceylon seem to have been from the Western Indian coast ” LOL. Where from the Gir forest in Gujarat where the lion raped the helpless damsel? Hope you are roaring like one from your tiny little flat in London and singing Hakuna Matata from the Lion King and thumping your teeny weeny chest.

                • 3
                  0

                  Lester the congenital defect,
                  .
                  Please train yourself to see things being based on facts – before adding your hearsays. You have already proved, that you are no different to that ” Mahinda Kahandagama – the Rajapakche backlicker who was found pants down lately “.
                  https://www.nature.com/articles/jhg2013112

                  You can constantly please your sun gods born to Medamulana caves but that would not help anyone.

                  Please dont insult so called aryans _ donot know from which side I have to express my grief and despair ?

                • 3
                  0

                  Lester should definitely be a dangerous mutation.
                  .
                  He claims to be in UK, but behaves as if he never went out of MEDAMULANA.
                  .
                  Why is that ?

                  Go and see how our Sinhalaya live in middle east coutnries. Not all but whole lot of sinhalayas are poor laborers that work for petty salaries.
                  -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jGnUOrIRSE0
                  The manner Arabs treat them is beyond ethics and morals. I think our Hantana Tamils (plantation tamils) live today much better. Whole lot of housemaids become helpless after coming to ME countries. Rajapakshe politics did not implement any reforms but sold ou tthose poor women to ME coutnries, because they did not care much about the women, but their foreign remittances.
                  :
                  Go and see how our poor sinhalayas live in Rome, Milano and several other cities in Italy. Sinhala lads become helpless after getting there, not being able to find a job for their living.
                  -https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1MaQs3AjhdI
                  Not long ago, I happened to come across a bunch of young men in Rome, roaming in the city, searching for survival jobs. Anyways, our STUPID sinhalayas like Lester behave as if we sinhalaya are powerful like Israelis.

                  I though Lester-kind of mutants are extincting ! – no I am wrong.
                  My foot !.

                • 1
                  1

                  Lester,
                  “Sinhalese are not descended from Tamils.”
                  Who is a Sinhalese? Have you heard of any Bengalis called Gunawardana, Nanayakkara, Wickramasingha, Kulatunga, Patali, Wettimuny, Sangakkara…………?
                  But there are plenty of these in South India.
                  Stick to your expertise on ancient Sinhala hydro-electricity.

                • 2
                  1

                  Lester the Lying Jester


                  “Sinhalese are not descended from Tamils. No one believes your fake history.”

                  My comment is not aimed at educating you simply because you need brain to understand even a basic lesson in Genetics.

                  Excerpt from:
                  Genetic affinities of Sri Lankan populations
                  By G K Kshatriya

                  The study of genetic admixture revealed that the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka have a higher contribution from the Tamils of southern India (69.86% +/- 0.61) compared with the Bengalis of northeast India (25.41% +/- 0.51), whereas the Tamils of Sri Lanka have received a higher contribution from the Sinhalese of Sri Lanka (55.20% +/- 9.47)
                  https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/

                  Actually my comment is for those who are interested in genetics studies of Tamil/Sinhala.

                  Let us see how SJ is going to support Lester the Lying Jester.

        • 4
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          OC
          Seen this:
          “All Muslims in Sri Lanka are not low-case South Indian Tamil converts to Islam but the vast overwhelming majority of them are”
          Bigotry knows no limits.

          • 3
            6

            SJ,
            “There will be conscientious objections to your suggestion”.
            Looks like you were right on the money.

          • 8
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            Gloat gloat. Happy that your baiting trick worked and now you look like a hero to some. I was praying and hoping no Thamizh will reply but three replied. The replies are correct and accurate, but you still wanted a reply to create a controversy. and make you look good. “Come to my parlour said the spider to the fly” and you caught three flies. Must be very happy and satisfied. No wonder gloating.

            • 1
              4

              You sound depressed.
              Do not take tablets. A few deep breaths should do.

              • 4
                0

                Am I, maybe, as you are such a depressing character and all your antics and nastiness will make anyone depressed. Maybe you need some tablets to calm you down.

      • 15
        5

        Not only the Sri Lankan Muslims but the vast majority of the South Asian Muslims are low-caste Hindu converts to Islam. This is the truth and has nothing to do with someone trying to be nasty or horrible. History and anthropology are about telling the truth and the real origin of people, not some fake origin and myths to be politically correct or to deliberately create rifts and problems like in the case of Sri Lank. The Aryan origin for the Sinhalese and Arab origin for the Muslims. Modern DNA studies have refuted this truth and have proved that 99.99% of the population on the island have a South Indian origin and have migrated to the island, at various times in history and this includes the Sri Lankan Muslims too. A little bit of Arab amongst a few hundred families does not make them Arab. My great-grandmother was English, does that mean I am English? I am still a Hindu Tamil.

        • 6
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          Are the Sri Lanka Muslims calling themselves Arab. How could it be? “Arab” is an ethnic entity whereas the word “Muslims” refers to people of Islamic faith. If Rohan convert to Islam today, he is still ethnically a Tamil, but religiously a Muslim from today onwards. Simple thing to understand. Sri Lankan Muslims are predominantly Moors, i.e Sonakar or Yonaka in Tamil and Sinhala respectively.

          • 12
            2

            Moors are from North Africa Morrocco to be precise and they ruled the Iberian peninsula ( modern-day Portugal and Spain) even place like Sicily in Italy for around 1000 years. The Sri Lankan Moors are definitely not Moorish or from Morrocco. The term Moor was used by the Portuguese for all South Asian Muslims, not just the Sri Lankan Muslims and it a has nothing to do with a person’s origin, race, or ethnicity but a religious description, as the only Muslims the Portuguese met prior to their travels were the Moors, who ruled the Iberian peninsula and were chased out around the same time they started their voyages of discovery. Even Dr. Ameer Ali has commented on this.

            • 10
              1

              Other Indian Muslim ethnicities, quickly discarded this term, as they were not Moors from North Africa but Indians and this includes the Indian Tamil Muslims, only the South Indian origin Sri Lankan Tamil Muslims deliberately kept this term to claim and used to deny their actual South Indian origin and claim that they are Arabs. Ethnic Tamil Muslims in Sri Lanka are called ” Moors” this does not mean they are actually Moors from North Africa but the term is used in a religious context.

              • 10
                1

                Originally the term Sonakar in Tamil or Yonaka in Sinhala means a Greek and is derived from the Sanskrit word Yavana meaning Greek most probably from Ionian. The ancient Tamils and other Indians traded extensively and had a lot of dealings with the ancient Greeks, Alexander the Great even invaded parts of North-West India. Later this term was also used for other Mediterranean people too and also used in a derogative way to mean an outsider, as the original Muslims who came to the Indian subcontinent, including Sri Lanka were from Western Asia or the Mediterranean area. However, this term stuck and all Muslims were called Sonakar, just like the way the Portuguese called all Muslims they met ” Moors” irrespective of origin. Even local native Tamil converts to Islam who are the vast majority making up 95% of the Muslims in Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka and the Arab/Tamil half mixtures making up the rest of the 5% were called Sonakar in Tamil and Yonaka in Sinhalese. In Kerala, the Malayali Syrian Christians are called Nasrani, after the ancient term for the Christian Jewish sect Nazarenes.

                • 7
                  1

                  This does not mean they are from Nazareth or Jewish and do not claim to. Although there is a sect amongst the Syrian Christians of Kerala called Knanya ( from Caanan) who are descended from Jewish Christian immigrants from Syria. This sect until very recently was very endogamous and hardly married into other Syrian Christian sects and many of their ritual and customs had a lot of Jewish elements to them.

        • 0
          7

          Rohan25
          “Modern DNA studies have refuted this truth and have proved that 99.99% of the population on the island have a South Indian origin and have migrated to the island,…”
          —-
          Which modern DNA studies have proved that 99.99% of the people in Sinhale have a South Indian origin and have migrated to Sinhale? Could be DNA studies funded by Tamil Diaspora.

          Unbiased DNA research say Sinhalayo have mixed with other races but they do not say Sinhalayo are of Indian origin. Sinhalayo got mixed because Sinhale has been a trade hub for several centuries attracting people from many countries. Sinhalayo use a unique language which is not found in any other place in the world. Sinhala language has been evolved in Sinhale along with Sinhala people from Homo sapiens lived in the southern part of the island about 125,000 years ago. Research conducted by archeologists have scientifically proved this. Therefore, DNA research results are irrelevant.

      • 11
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        SJ in South India 1) In Kerala the native Malayalam speaking Muslims belong to two categories. The larger category is native converts from Ezhava, Thiyyar Mukkuva, Pulayan( Paraiyan), Thimilar and other low castes who converted to Islam. The second category is the mixed population of Arab traders and settlers who intermarried with local women belonging to these same castes. The former is the majority the latter is a minority. During the rule of the Tippu Sultan, there was also lots of forced conversion of upper caste Brahmins and Nambiars and Nairs to Islam in the northern parts of Kerala. These Malyalam-speaking Muslims are called Mappilas and have their own unique culture and customs and they consider themselves as belonging to the Malayali ethnicity. Lots of them have looks to kill for and many famous Malayali actors like Prem Nazir, Mamotty, and his son Duqueer belong to this community.

        • 11
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          2) Tamil Nadu. Islam came to Tamil Nadu again through trade with Arabs and also spread from then Tamil Chera Nadu or Kerala, where ancient Arabs and Jews were trading from pre Islamic times. Native Tamil Muslims also belong to two categories. 1) Local Tamil converts to Islam, again largely from the lower castes. The vast majority. 2) The mixed population, again Arab and other western Asian traders and settlers who intermarried with local Tamil women again largely from the lower castes. The Rawthers have Turkish, due to the brief Mughal Delhi Sultanate rule of the Tamil country. Turkish Mughal soldiers intermarried with local largely low caste women. The Lebbai are supposed to have Persian. These two categories of Muslims speak Tamil and hardly any Urdu and consider themselves as Tamils and have their unique Tamil Islamic culture and the Arwi language. They make up around 4.5 million of the 6 million Tamil Muslims from Tamil Nadu. The Sri Lankan Muslims or Moors are largely descended from these two categories of Tamil Muslims.

          • 11
            1

            The third category of Tamil Muslims is the Pathani or Pattani Muslims. They make up around 1.5 million of the 6 million Tamil Muslims living in Tamil Nadu. These people were originally descended from the Pathans who came with the Delhi Sultanate rule and later Pathan immigrants during British rule. They speak Urdu or Dakkini Urdu( Southern dialect of Urdu) as their home language and Urdu is their mother tongue. However, they are also fluent in Tamil. These people largely live in the northern Tamil Nadu districts of Arcot and Vellore. Originally this term was used for these Urdu speaking Pathan Muslims who arrived with the Delhi Sultanate rule in the 13th century but is now used for all North Indian origin Urdu speaking Muslims living in Tamil Nadu. The Nawabs of Arcot belong to this Mughal Pathani Muslim heritage. The former Engish cricket captain Naseer Hussain was born in Chennai to a Tamil Muslim father, belonging to this royal Pattani Muslim family from Arcot. and to an English mother. The famous Bollywood actress Waheeda Rehman also is a Tamil Muslim from this Pattani community.

            • 6
              10

              I am not into DNA analysis.
              Even facial features show that a large section of Lankan Muslims have some of their ancestors different from those of the Tamils & Sinhalese.
              More importantly, many of them take pride in it.
              Most importantly they assert their distinct identity and refuse to submerge themselves into any other identity.
              You cannot scream and shout and thus convert them into whatever you like them to become.

              • 10
                1

                The vast overwhelming majority of the Sri Lankan Muslims are not distinguishable in features or looks from the Sinhalese and Tamils, if they discard their Arabis or other forms of Islamic dress and this is the truth only a small percentage have these so-called different features and that too many of them, look like light-skinned Indians and not Arabs. Even a large section of Sinhalese and Tamils’ facial features show the imprint of Europeans, Arabs and other people who came to the island. Stop exaggerating to make a point. They deliberately take pride in these so-called Arab-like facial features, among a very small percentage of them and crow about this, to claim an exclusively Arab or western Asian heritage and forget about their 95% or more Dravidian Tamil origin. Whereas the Sinhalese and Tamils do not. The vast majority of the island’s Burghers who have a mixed European heritage in varying degrees, show this and these European features are obvious amongst the vast majority of them.

                • 11
                  1

                  You are just pandering to their lies and myths, and do not want the real truth to be told, because as usual, you have an agenda. It is these lies and myths, and false beliefs in them that deliberately caused this rift between the island’s Tamil Muslims living on the island and other Tamils. They now have been largely brainwashed to believe they are Arabs and to behave more like them and encouraging extremism. The truth has to be told, irrespective of whether it is well received or not and no one is forcing anyone to become what they like, by stating the truth, It is these lies and myths that are forcing people to become something they are not and not the other way around. Good try.

              • 9
                2

                You are not into any sort of analysis or finding the truth but deliberately nitpick, largely on the comments that Thamizh posted, twist the truth, to cause trouble or a furore, failing that create one, just like you did regarding the largely low caste Thamizh origin of most Sri Lankan Muslims so that you can look good or become a hero amongst the Chingkalams or Muslims, at the expense of the other Thamizh and this makes you feel great. How pathetic. Call yourself an intellect?

                • 2
                  6

                  Piglet
                  Find the TRUTH.
                  Then present it with credible evidence.
                  Is it too much to ask for?

                  • 5
                    1

                    Or use Chrystal balls or Mao’s *****.

                    • 0
                      5

                      For that you have to part with both.
                      What made you start bearing the pairs of little round appendages of Tamil racists?
                      Desperation?

    • 13
      2

      You are correct Old codger, Arabs weren’t always Muslims and the Arab connection to Sri Lanka or Ceylon was very minimal compared to South West India( modern-day Kerala or ancient Tamil Chera Nadu or South-East India( Modern day Tamil Nadu). Or even to places like Sindh or Gujarat in North-West India. I do not say Arabs or other Middle Easterners/Western Asians did not arrive here, but their presence was very minimal and lots of it was pre-Islamic, Christian or other. These Arabs and Middle Eastern traders of emissaries to the courts of Sinhalese or Tamil kings on the island have very little to do with the present-day Sri Lankan Muslims or Moors as they like to call themselves. They always want to connect or associate themselves with the Arabs and other Western Asian/North African people, when in reality there is very little Arab or another Western Asian ancestry amongst them.

      • 13
        2

        The vast overwhelming majority of them originate from South India and are Dravidian Tamil converts to Islam and started to migrate here from the 12Th century onwards but most arrived in the early 19Th century. True a very small minority of them do have some Arab ancestry but this again largely occurred in their original South Indian homeland and hardly here. Modern DNA analysis also proves this. There is below-average Arab DNA amongst the Sri Lankan Muslims and they are very closely related to the island’s Sinhalese and Tamils, who are all closely related to the Dravidian population of South India including the South Indian Muslims. However in the name of their religion and for various other perceived benefits, political and economic, they do not want to acknowledge this truth and want to closely associate themselves with the Arabs and other Western Asians, that to their real South Asian Dravidian Tamil ancestry. Even the Arabs consider the Sri Lankan Muslims, as South Asian converts to Islam and not to Arab ancestry.

        • 12
          1

          I have worked in the Arabian Gulf for many years and can still speak basic Arabic, and fluent Hindi/Urdu and have seen how the Arabs treat their fellow Muslims from South Asia( India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka ) and other third-world countries. Especially the poor workers. Not as fellow brother Muslims equal to them. Even Arabs from other nations, especially the poorer Arab nations, are not treated as equals but far better than the South Asian and other non-Arab Muslims from the third world. Of course, they protest and make a lot of noise regarding the treatment of Muslim populations in Europe, India, or Sri Lanka but in reality, treat them no better when they come to work there. Especially the blue-collar and domestic workers.

          • 3
            10

            May be it is like the Jaffna Tamils treat Batti Tamils , Colombo Tamils , Up Country Tamils and Indian Tamils. It does not give any sort of legitimacy for their (poor and arrogant) mindset. After all please tell me if any DNA testing convey that a person A is upper class and person B is a lower class

            • 9
              3

              Jaffna Tamils, especially the Vellalar are highly endogamous when it comes to marriage but will marry into upper-caste Vellalar families from the east coast or Vanni and it is not taboo or looked down on upon but accepted. This is the same with the Kandyan Sinhalese. No one looks down upon anyone, especially now and for your information, most of the so-called Colombo Tamils are of Jaffna origin. Most northern Tamils, other than the ones from the coasts belong to the Vellalar caste, whereas the eastern Tamil masses are largely from the Mukkuva or Vedda. 90% of the North East Tamils never meet an Indian origin or estate Tamil to discriminate and for your information, the few Indian origin Tamils who settled in the Vanni got assimilated soon.

              • 9
                3

                This is information deliberately spread by the island’s Sinhalese and Muslims to justify their state-sponsored discrimination. Sinhalese also discriminate on the basis of caste and region and so the Sri Lankan Muslims, the southern and west coast Muslims will hardly intermarry with Tamil Muslims families from the north or east. Please explain this.

    • 1
      0

      I am reproducing the following from Wikipedia.
      Recent genetic studies have suggested a predominant Indian origin for Moors compared to the Arab origin speculated by some.Perera Et al (2021) in their genetic analysis of the Moors stated the following in their report in the following words “In contrast, Sri Lankan Moors have descended exclusively from Muslim male merchants of either Arabic or of Indian origin, who came to Sri Lanka for trading. During the fourteenth century, they started to settle in coastal areas in Sri Lanka and espoused local women, who were either Sinhalese or Sri Lankan Tamil”.
      Many Sri Lankan Moors are Marakkars and share the same history with Tamil Nadu Marakkars in particular, and Marakkars from Kerala. This can be seen from the large number of prominent Sri Lankan Moors who hold the surname Marikkar or its variations and through the extremely strong linguistic and cultural similarities held by these communities. It is said that there has been a strong relationship between Marakkar communities through endogamous marriages. The similarities have been described as “enormous” as described by M. M. M. Mahroof.
      The author of this article,AA, expressed the following opinion else where.
      ‘In actual fact, the Muslims of Sri Lanka are a mixture of Arab, Persian Dravidian and Malay blood of which the Dravidian element, because of centuries of heavy Indian injection has remained the dominant one’

  • 16
    3

    “With that ideology on driver’s seat, it would be difficult for Lanka-Arab relations to resume their pre-Rajapaksa normalcy.”
    According to Mr. Ameer Ali, Lanka- Arab relations is normal before pre-Rajapaksa period
    “Regrettably, since the time of Mahinda Rajapaksa’s presidency from 2005, and in particular, after its victory over the LTTE in 2009, there had been a sharp shift in Sri Lanka’s attitude towards pluralism.”
    The question is what does it means by pluralism? Does he consider that Tamils of this country are not belong to this country.
    Why that change happened after 2009? This is because Muslims are being used by the idelogy of SBM to get rid of Tamils in 2009. The fact is that ideolgy never changed before and after 2009. The priority changed. The ideology remains Sri Lanka a Buddhist Only, Sinhala only Country.

    • 5
      8

      “…there had been a sharp shift in Sri Lanka’s attitude towards pluralism.”
      That is not to deny that there was perfection prior to it.
      You love blaming Muslims.
      Will you dare to denounce the genocidal policy of the LTTE towards them.
      Did Tamil political leaders make any proposal that truly addressed the problems of Muslims (who live mostly among Singhalese) and Hill Country Tamils? The FP tried to include them, but hadn’t a clue on how to do it.
      Bet it Federalism or Tamil Eelam or Provincial Government, what thought has been given to these two nationalities.

      • 2
        8

        That is not to deny that there was imperfection prior to it.

        • 9
          1

          Looks like a comrade to Cat and a guard to milk.

        • 2
          0

          There is adequate evidence that Muslims allowed themselves to be used by Sinhalese rulers against Tamils before 2009. After 2009 the rulers became jealous of Muslims because the long war against Tamils allowed the Muslims to become a very rich community. There is another matter Muslims must worry about is that Tamils are fully marginalised in SriLanka now. Therefore Muslims won’t be needed any more to fight the Tamils. Tamil peoples only protection is diaspora Tamils. Muslims won’t be of any use against diaspora Tamils and Tamil diaspora will never be a military threat.
          Some Sri Lankans leaders may think that if they woo the Muslims they will get a lot of help from Muslim countries to tide over the current crisis.
          My advise is that its best to rely on India, America and China to get over the current economic crisis. Expecting Muslim countries to replace these three countries is be an erroneous one.

      • 10
        1

        SJ,
        Why don’t you give your thoughts? I know you don’t have any thoughts on solving problems in Sri Lanka and I know you depend on what your Chinese masters say. You did not even answer to my questions about who are the major countries contributed to Sri Lanka’s Foregin debts from 2010? Between 2010 and 2015 China’s contribution was nearly 28% of total debt. China charged very high interest rates than other countries.

        • 4
          11

          I share my thoughts with rational creatures.
          When one resorts to personal abuse, I know that my argument has been conceded.

        • 9
          1

          Ajith

          ” I know you don’t have any thoughts on solving problems in Sri Lanka and I know you depend on what your Chinese masters say.”

          It has nothing to do with Chinese masters, on the contrary out of sheer love, respect, loyalty and obedience for Mao, he voluntarily wants to invite China to take over this island and make this island being an Autonomous Region of China.

          He believes since China being a far more advance country it has the god given right to rule the world especially, rule that part of the world where petite bourgeoisie rule is inimical to progress of the proletariat.

          I guess this was written all over Mao’s ***** .

          • 1
            5

            Now A’s tiger balls to bear too for Mr Glass B&B.

            • 3
              0

              SJ’s pathetic Chinese balls?

      • 10
        2

        This is information deliberately spread by the island’s Sinhalese and Muslims to justify their state-sponsored discrimination. Sinhalese also discriminate on the basis of caste and region and so the Sri Lankan Muslims, the southern and west coast Muslims will hardly intermarry with Tamil Muslims families from the north or east. Please explain this.

        • 8
          1

          You are right. This is to convince the Sinhalese rulers who used some Muslims to divide the people and carry out the genocide of Tamils.

      • 2
        6

        “Will you dare to denounce the genocidal policy of the LTTE towards them.”

        I don’t believe this.
        This must be due to memory lapses.
        Possible Reasons for weird memory lapse:
        https://www.self.com/story/memory-lapse-causes

    • 5
      0

      This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.

      For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

    • 12
      2

      Correct Ajith. Anyway other than religion, Sri Lankan Muslims have very little connection to the Arab or Arabic-speaking populations from the Gulf, other parts of western Asia or northern Africa. They claim to but in reality, hardly. They originate from South India. Yes, there is some Arab/Persian ancestry amongst a few southern Sri Lankan trading families but basically, they are a South Indian origin Tamil population, who migrated to the island a few centuries ago. I really cannot understand why they still want to connect this ancient Arab and other western Asian, traders and emissaries who came to the island from ancient/medieval times with the current Sri Lankan Muslim population, who originates from South Asia, to portray an ancient Arab origin? Lots of them arrived during pre-Islamic periods and were not even Muslim. This is like the Sinhalese and Tamil Christians trying to link and connect themselves with the European missionaries and colonizers who came to the island.

      • 11
        3

        As you stated from the time of independence the Sinhalese Buddhists have always used the Sri Lankan Muslims, who ironically are of Tamil ethnicity, to get rid of and marginalize the island’s Tamils. Before and after 2009. Many important cabinet ministers ( education, foreign affairs and other trade) and chief ministers/politicians especially in the east of the island were used and this ideology still continues. As seen by many Sinhalese extremist/racist comments here. “Muslims will soon overtake your population and the Tamil lands in the north and east”. What happened in the eastern Tamils, after 2009, at the hands of hardline Muslim politicians, who were deliberately selected by the Sinhalese state is a good example. This policy has not changed and they are still being used as a tool for this purpose. To achieve the Sinhala only and Buddhist-only state. Once the more important Tamil population, who have an ancient history and a valid claim to a homeland is marginalized and got rid of. Dealing with the recently arrived South Indian origin Muslims will be easy. It is, for this reason, Arabisation and claiming the minuscule amount of Arab as their sole origin and heritage in the name of their religion is encouraged in order to distance them from their Tamil origin, heritage and culture. This is my opinion.

  • 3
    10

    May be it is like the Jaffna Tamils treat Batti Tamils , Colombo Tamils , Up Country Tamils and Indian Tamils. It does not give any sort of legitimacy for their (poor and arrogant) mindset. After all please tell me if any DNA testing convey that a person A is upper class and person B is a lower class

    • 8
      1

      You are repeating the same thing again when you have no answer to the truth. So you do admit that the Sri Lankan Muslims are of South Indian origin? Thanks

    • 3
      12

      AN
      I cannot say it of even many Tamils, but there are some vociferous Tamils who specialize in making enemies for the Tamils.
      Their bogus airs, as often, only reflect a strong sense of insecurity.
      This multi-identity character has for long conned his way through with his DNA tales for which he/she has no real evidence.

      • 8
        1

        Maybe you suffer from Schizophrenia, this is why you are aware of multiple identities but I am not to have multiple identities and characters. I am just myself

        • 1
          8

          Schizophrenia has nothing to do with multiple identities.
          Check with a psychiatrist before attempting dumb diagnosis.
          *
          ” …but I am not to have multiple identities and characters.”
          Was it doctor’s orders?
          So why do you keep using this name?

          • 4
            1

            Give it a rest. In my opinion, hardly anyone likes you here or your nasty nit-picking comments. Looks like someone who is bitter and self-hating about his own ethnicity and culture and therefore wants to fawn towards others who also hate them and get into their good books.

            • 0
              5

              PK
              Have you mistyped your name?
              It is good to be hated by bad people.

          • 4
            1

            Why do I keep using this name, as Rohan is my name, the name on my birth certificate. Happy. I can use the identity SJ the nasty if you want me to. Maybe this will make you happy.

  • 8
    1

    If Arab nations care about the safety of the Muslim community then they must ship those barrels of oil ASAP. That is how it works.

    • 8
      1

      Reginald Shameless Perera

      “If Arab nations care about the safety of the Muslim community then they must ship those barrels of oil ASAP.”

      So that you beggars could abuse the ordinary powerless poor people just like s**t. Go beg from every country in the world map. Bangladesh a country your weeping widow tried her best to prevent being born, aided abetted genocide of Bengali people. Now you not only want free potato but want them to boil it first before being sent Sri Lanka.

      You must send your president and all your Muslim haters (Champika, ………Sangha, Karaka Council members, Kamala, ….) on their fours to each of the oil supplying Muslim countries and beg for pardon, plea for mercy.

      • 1
        4

        Native Veddha,

        Those Bengali potato stories are all fake just like these newest nonsense about fuel and gas shortage. All fake news. There is NO fuel or gas shortage in SL. All Maharaja owned LTTE propaganda.

    • 10
      1

      They will not. Look what they did to their fellow Arabs in Yemen and very few really care two hoots about the Palestinian Arabs, just mouth platitudes. If fellow Arabs are treated in this manner, how much will they care about non-Arabs, Muslims or others even if they claim to be Arab? Anyway, why should the safety of the island’s Muslims depend on oi shipments from Arab nations? It is the duty of the Sri Lanka state to ensure the safety of all its citizens and treat them equally, irrespective of whatever provocation. I do not like what you are implying about the Island’s Muslims. Just because I stated the truth about their actual origin, does not mean I want them to harmed, discriminated or ill-treated.

    • 1
      2

      RSP
      Even if they care and ship, will the Muslims get their fair share?

    • 1
      6

      EE
      Please read the work by Prof. Lorna Dewaraja
      The Muslims of Sri Lanka – One thousand years of ethnic harmony- 900 to 1915 (first published in 1994)

      • 4
        1

        The name sounds very Thamizh but looks like it’s deliberately Chingkalized. Dewaraja instead of the Thamizh Devaraja/Devarajan or Thevarajan/Thevarasan. The book is garbage it tries to deny and cover up the real truth about the island’s Muslim’s actual Thamizh South Indian origin and ethnicity, instead of trying to portray and link them with Arabs and other western Asians. Never mentions or omits their original settlement in the then Thamizh north-west coast, which was part of the Thamizh Jaffna kingdom. Or the long and continuing relationship to their ethnic kin in south India, or to the island’s Thamizh. The Thamizh Islamic culture or their Thamizh language. Everything about Chingkallams and so-called Arab Muslims of Sri Lanka. No wonder the island’s Muslim elite/politicians and extremists love this, and so do the Chingkalla extremists and Thamizh turncoats, also love it and promote it.

        • 0
          4

          Think, if possible, before you type.

  • 2
    4

    “That exceptional record with a short disruption in 1915…
    —-
    That short disruption started by Muslims attacking the participants of a Buddhist procession cost hundreds of lives of Sinhala Buddhists.
    The Muslims who attacked Sinhala Buddhists were the descendants of Muslim refugees from Hindusthan who were saved by Sinhala Buddhists when faced persecution by Portuguese and allowed to settle down in interior parts of the country, marry local women and convert them to Islam.

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