By Latheef Farook –
Former President Maithripala Sirisena owes apology to Muslims for the killings and atrocities unleashed and damages to Muslim owned properties besides poisoning Sinhalese minds against Muslims in the wake of Easter Sunday massacre on 21 April 2019.
The Presidential Commission inquired into Easter Sunday killings did not accuse the Muslim community but recommended criminal charges against Maithri, Ranil and top officials.It is common knowledge that few belonging to National Thowheed Jamat, NTJ, were accused of bombing churches and hotels on Easter Sunday.
Muslim community had nothing to do with this carnage. Instead several Muslim organizations informed the police way back in 2014 and urged to arrest Zahran and his team.
Indian intelligence, according to reports, informed about the bombings on April 4. Now the BBC Sinhala service reported that Indian intelligence was behind the Easter Sunday bombings.
In an article in The Island on 18 May 2019 Prof Tissa Vitarana said; “It is clear that the jihadists were allowed to build itself into a sophisticated terrorist unit that could carry out the coordinated Easter Sunday attacks. Some expert guidance and direction from abroad is likely. But it is clear that the intention was to engineer an anti-Muslim backlash from among the Sinhala and Tamil Catholic communities. This objective has been checked by the leadership provided by Archbishop Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith. It is clear now that the UNP tried to repeat what they did in 1983, but this time against the Muslims”.
There was also reports that Zahran and 26 NTJ members were paid by the army intelligence under previous government and perhaps groomed to use as scape goats by forces which were responsible for the Easter Sunday massacre.
Many senior ministers pointed out that the government had sufficient information and time to stop this carnage. However, instead of preventing the carnage, President Maithri went on pilgrimage to Tirupathi from where he went with his family on a three day holiday to Singapore while Prime Minister Wickremesinghe was holidaying in Bentota.
Sri Lanka’s Muslim community, suffered immense during the three decades of ethnic conflict and save the country, was subjected to senseless violence by the government in the wake of Easter Sunday bombings.
To begin with the government imposed emergency laws and declared a campaign demonizing Islam, projecting every Muslim a terror suspect. Maithri promptly deployed forces to search Muslim owned properties from mosques, houses, business establishments and took to custody Muslim men and women on ridiculous allegations and produced before courts after keeping in custody.
Using emergency regulations, Muslim houses and business establishments were emptied even of their kitchen knives under search operations.
Dismissing the religious sentiments, troops entered mosques with boots accompanied by sniper dogs during the Holy Month of Ramadan fast. To Muslims worldwide there is nothing more sacred than the holy Quran. Muslims always read the Quran with ablution. Therefore tearing and throwing copies of Holy Quran was deliberate provocations by the forces.
Maithri Government banned Muslim women wearing face cover, burqa, niqab and refused to stop atrocities to Muslim women. Not only hospital security even shops and super markets forced Muslim women to remove traditional shawls. Every Muslim man, woman and even children, were treated with suspicion, hatred and bitterness.
In the rush Prime Minister Wickremesinghe announced that madrasas will be brought under Education Ministry, Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act will be amended to increase the age of marriage to 18 and Sharia University will not be allowed. The government ordered mosques to submit copies of sermons given within their premises. This is usually done in countries ruled by ruthless dictatorships.
He allowed United States led European, Israeli and India’s RSS led BJP government’s on going global Islamophobia to enter Sri Lanka.
Under such frightening atmosphere, Maithri left to China to attend a ridiculous conference leaving Muslims at the mercy of organized murderous thugs, supported by a racist political party, and awaiting to attack Muslims.
Mob of around 500 with iron rods, swords and other such items began their killing and burning spree under the watchful eyes of the police and the army which became irrelevant. Mobs were free when they started to burn houses, shops, business establishments and mosques. They burnt and destroyed around 30 Muslim villages, according to reports.
Multi million rupee businessmen were made paupers overnight.
A fasting Muslim was chopped to death and another battered Muslim man was dragged in the street to hospital where he died. Most of the attackers were freed on bail and a notorious thug known for his violence against Muslims in Digana was garlanded and taken in procession
M.S. Fouzul Ameen 49, well-to-do furniture shop owner from Kottaramulla who came home to end day’s Ramadan fast with the family, was killed when his neck and face were slashed in front of his 16 year old son.
Fasting Muslim women grabbing their children ran to Sinhalese neighbors for safety. Some accommodated and even provided food while others chased them out. Sinhala three wheel drivers refused to take a severely battered Muslim being dragged on the street to hospital. In the process he died.
Maithri-Ranil government made no moves to stop the violence. Former Minister Navin Dissanayake said that the anti-Muslim violence were organised and systematically cariied out .
Supporting violence against Muslims, the mainstream media unleashed a full scale well organized campaign demonizing Islam and describing the entire Muslim community as terrorists. They cooked up reports after reports justifying their evil campaign.
Perhaps the forces behind the carnage wanted to put the Christians against Muslims. However this conspiracy miserably failed as Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith urged Christians not to attack Muslims.
Sinhala lawyers refused to appear for Muslims taken into custody, doctors refused to treat Muslim women insisting that they remove their head scarves, Muslim shops were boycotted, a pradeshiya sabah chairman prevented Muslim from trading in the market and some temples began advising Buddhists not to deal with Muslims.
One columnist pointed out that “Life has become a nightmare in their ordinary day to day living and virtually changed every aspect of life. Harassment, discrimination and a well-orchestrated hate campaign has been taking shape in the public domain, demonizing, alienating and fostering a besieged mentality towards Muslims. Racism has found a new meaning in Sri Lanka. And everything Muslim are being targeted. There is total harassment of Muslims in public places, buses and trains, taxis and even in work places
Muslims have lost all faith in the police, security forces and the government to protect them.
In the midst insulting Muslims further, President Maithri visited lawless monk
Ven Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero at his prison cell, released him and entertained for tea. In doing so what message he sent to Muslims?
They have forgotten that Sri Lanka remains one country due to the great sacrifices by Muslims as stated by then Chief of Defense Staff, Admiral Ravindra Wijegunaratne who pointed out that “we are alive today because of their brave fellow Muslim officers”.
He said the LTTE attacked and chased the Muslims away from areas which were under its control in the North and East because they did not support their cause. Sinhalese have a duty to protect the Muslims.”
When 95 percent of the Muslims voted and made Sirisena the President they only expected peace. However their hopes were dashed.
In the midst Ven Athuraliye Rathna Thero, better known for preaching hatred towards Muslims than preaching the peaceful message of Buddhism, started calling Tamils to join Sinhalese to fight Muslims. Demonizing of Muslims continued until the election of Sinhala Buddhist only government dismissing all minorities in August 2019.
However there was one silver line in his dark hour as several Buddhist monks and other Sinhalese who came on television and reiterated that Muslims are integral part of the island’s population and made tremendous contribution throughout their more than 1000 year long history. They said in one voice that Muslim community should not be associated with the crimes of handful of Muslim mercenaries.