29 October, 2020

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Midweek Politics: The Battle For Sacred Ground

By Dharisha Bastians

Dharisha Bastians

As Muslims and moderates rally against the Bodu Bala Sena, a Defence Ministry initiative to resolve a dispute over an ancient Islamic shrine in Balangoda is commendable. But will Sinhala hardline groups accept the compromise?

The misty mountain village of Kuragala, just off Balangoda came alive on Monday when a Sri Lanka Air Force helicopter landed in the area carrying Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa and a full retinue of military, police and intelligence officers onboard. Accompanied by dozens of Buddhist monks including Jathika Hela Urumaya Leader Ellawela Medhananda Thero, Moulavis Chief of National Intelligence Major General (Retd) Kapila Hendawitharana and officials from the Department of Archeology, the Defence Secretary undertook a site visit of the rock face on top of which sits an Islamic hermitage shrine.

Kuragala is home to an ancient Sufi shrine, sacred to Muslims because Arabic rock inscriptions, tombstones and other historical evidence point to a greatly revered Islamic saint having meditated in the rock caves for 12 years on a pilgrimage to Adam’s Peak. Once a year, pilgrims flock to the site to commemorate the death anniversary of Saint Sheikh Muhiyadeen Abdul Qadir. At all other times, it is a haven for meditation and solitary reflection that Sufism preaches. The shrine’s tranquility has been marred in the recent past by disputed claims over its historic origins. Buddhist monks and hardline groups that are gaining momentum in the political firmament have renewed a decades old claim that the rock cave was in fact an ancient Buddhist monastic site. The groups want the site cleared of all Islamic buildings and monuments, including the mosque. Given the significance the shrine holds for Muslims all over the island, any potential threat to the Jailani mosque and attempt to alter the history of the site could seriously escalate tensions between the Buddhist and Muslim communities in the country.

Custody of Jailani

When a similar claim for Jailani was made by Buddhists in the 1970s the Department of Archeology took custody of the site, although the custodianship of the Jailani shrine, the rock cave mosque and pilgrim rests in the area was held in trust by the Aboosally family. UNP Parliamentarian M.L.M. Aboosally was the first trustee of the Jailani shrine, and his daughter Roshan holds the trusteeship today.

On Monday, when the shrine’s trustees and Moulavis sat down for initial discussions with the Defence Secretary soon after a quick tour of the sacred site, the tone adopted was that the land belonged to the Department of Archeology and all the buildings on the rock face had to go. Discouraged by the tone of the discussion, the Muslim representatives believed the battle was already lost. But subsequently, the Defence Secretary asked Director General of the Department of Archeology, Dr. Senarath Dissanayake to explain to the members of the Muslim community and the Sinhalese villagers who had also gathered there, the actual situation with regard to the site’s archeological significance.

Proposed compromise

Dr. Dissanayake explained that no harm would come to the rock cave mosque, but that the Archeological Department had to investigate the inscriptions on the rock and inspect the rock caves. The Director General promised that the Government would allocate 26 acres of land for the pilgrim rests and mosque feasts to be held nearby. In return, the mosque would be left standing, but the other buildings on the rock face would have to come down while excavations and archeological inquiry took place. Several members of the Muslim community who listened to Dr. Dissanayake’s explanation were dissatisfied by the compromise. They believed that a surrender of the Jailani monuments and premises would effectively open the door for further ‘reclamation’ of sacred Islamic sites in the country based on claims of original settlement. However, moderates cautioned against being unyielding on the issue, especially after authorities assured the mosque would not be torn down. It was agreed that if further attempts were made to annexe sites sacred to the Muslims, the community would adopt a tougher position then, appealing if necessary to the international community and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a major Islamic bloc of 57 countries that has been staunchly supportive of Sri Lanka over the years.

No demolition

After Dr. Dissanayake had explained matters and reassured Muslim representatives that the mosque would not be harmed and Muslim pilgrims and visitors to the site would not be impeded, Defence Secretary Rajapaksa who had been walking around, returned to the discussion. He assured the Muslim community that their religious rights would not be hindered and that the Government would ensure that no Buddhist monuments would be constructed on the site. Instead, Rajapaksa said, the site would be a free area, open to both Buddhist and Muslim pilgrims. Given the tensions between the communities, both in the Balangoda area and around the country, it is unclear if this attempt at a compromise would help or hinder the peace. Large crowds of Buddhists with a territorial claim, encountering large crowds of Muslim pilgrims with a historic claim of their own, could spell trouble if unruly elements were to infiltrate the crowds to disturb the peace, analysts warn. The Defence Secretary instructed Dr. Dissanayake to appoint a committee, comprising the shrine’s trustees, Medhananda Thero and other monks and the Archeology Department to meet as soon as possible and find a suitable compromise that would defuse tensions regarding the Kuragala shrine. Interestingly, the Muslim representatives were assured that neither the Bodu Bala Sena nor the Sinhala Ravaya would have a say in the matter or sit on the committee. Ellawela Medhananda Thero also assured members of the Muslim community that Buddhists would not impede Muslim pilgrims to the site. The JHU Leader takes a hardline on most ethnic issues and the JHU as a political party has never espoused ideologies of peace, but the entrance of the Bodu Bala Sena with their blatant anti-minority agendas has made monks like Medhananda seem moderate.

Storming the rock cave

About 18 months ago, a JHU led brigade of monks and laymen attempted to storm the Kuragala shrine, determined to “reclaim” the site and restore its rightful Buddhist heritage. Upon discussions with the shrine’s trustee Roshan Aboosally and other Muslim representatives, about the site’s historic significance to Muslims and evidence to support legends of the meditating Islamic saint, the monks agreed to allow the matter to rest. But for hardline groups gaining ground the Jailani shrine was an easy cause to take up and it has become a key focal point in their anti-Muslim campaigns. In January 2013, the Sinhala Ravaya and Bodu Bala Sena groups organised about 150 monks who attempted to storm the Jailani mosque. Accompanied by several policemen, they clambered up the rock face, carrying Buddha statues in their hands, sources say, only to find their attempt foiled by a massive thunder-shower that caused the group to retrace their steps. . Jailani’s strange tranquility and otherworldly placement, gives rise to a strong perception for believers that it is sacred ground, and therefore protected by the divine. The Muslim community tasked with protecting the shrine and increasingly concerned about the blatant attack on Islamic places of worship by hardliners who appear to command the support of law enforcement in most cases, believe the sudden shower on a sunny day in Balangoda to be an act of God.

A tense meeting

The attempted raid of Jailani in January and the potential flashpoint the dispute was creating, spurred authorities into action the following month. On 6 February, a meeting was held in the office of the Director General of the Department of Archeology, Dr. Senarath Dissanayake in Colombo. The meeting included the Trustee of the Kuragala shrine, other representatives and scholars from the Muslim community, Archeology Department officials, officials of the Ministry of Defence and the police and walking in at the last minute, representatives of the Bodu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya groups. Adopting a harsh tone from the outset, the hardline monks refused to allow Roshan Aboosally to speak in English, when she apologetically requested to be allowed to do so since her Sinhala was not fluent. The Bodu Bala Sena representatives flatly refused to allow her to do so, insisting that Sri Lanka was a Sinhala country and she should address the meeting in Sinhalese. The Bodu Bala Sena representatives dominated the meeting, responding to the Director General’s claims that things had to be done according to the law, with threats. “Neither laws nor acts nor history matters – if the Kuragala is not cleared by 14 February, we will bring a force of 25,000 people and take it back ourselves,” the monks raged.

According to representatives at the meeting, the threat of a raid on 14 February raised major fears of a clash on the sacred site, since the date coincided with the Jailani mosque feast that would bring hundreds of Muslims to the area. Following further extensive discussions, the “deadline” was extended to 30 April with a resolution to be sought before then.

Meeting at Defence Ministry

It was as a follow up to that disastrous 6 February meeting that the Kuragala Shrine trustees and members of the Muslim community sought a meeting with Defence Secretary Rajapaksa last week. When the delegation arrived at the Defence Ministry, Bodu Bala Sena representatives were also in the premises. The Muslim representatives flatly refused to discuss the issue with the hardline group, prompting the Defence Secretary to summon a different group of Buddhist monks to the Ministry. The second delegation included learned and moderate monks, such as Prof. Bellanvila Wimalarathana Thero who was also instrumental in defusing the Halal controversy after a compromise was “brokered” on the issue. The monks and defence ministry officials however were insisting that a settlement be reached at the meeting and the matter laid to rest. However, the Trustee and members of the Muslim delegation insisted that the Defence Secretary visit the hotly contested site, before any settlement was reached.

Roshan Aboosally believes that the involvement of the Defence Secretary was an attempt to defuse tensions arising about the sacred shrine, especially after attempted raids by hardline groups and threats that mobs would arrive at the site to tear down monuments on Vesak Poya Day. She believes that once the committee is convened by the Director General of Archeology, a compromise could be reached, that will allow the Jailani mosque to stand, even if the other premises on the rock will have to be given up by the Trust. “My priority as the Trustee, would be to ensure that the mosque remains, and that Muslim religious activities could still take place at the site. From here on, that would be my primary responsibility, to preserve the mosque and ensure Muslims can still come there to worship,” she said.

Creating controversy

The Kuragala issue is just one key flashpoint in a sea of tension created by hardline groups that are being permitted to run amok. The creation of non-issues, like the Halal controversy or the conflict over the Abhaya, aimed at heightening paranoia in the Sinhala Buddhist community and inciting at the very least the boycott of Muslim businesses and consumer products, and at the worst, brutal violence against those enterprises and Islamic places of worship, is their modus operandi. The anti-Muslim campaign is gaining such traction that it is increasingly becoming a concern as to how much longer the Muslim community and its elders can keep calm in their ranks and prevent any retaliation that could set communal fires ablaze. Not only does the campaign against another minority community push the country to the edge of renewed ethno-religious strife, but all signs are that Islamic countries of the world are sitting up and beginning to take notice.

Apart from its public statement raising the alarm about rising tensions against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) last month, the organisation has also dispatched a confidential letter to President Mahinda Rajapaksa appealing to him to restore calm and contain the threats posed to Sri Lankan Muslims by hardline movements galvanizing support against them. The country, having largely lost the support of the West, by its obdurate positions on devolution, reconciliation and investigating alleged war-time excesses and lately, even India, has come to rely more and more on the support of the Islamic bloc and the African bloc in its international battles. It will be recalled, and not without some irony, that it was Pakistan, on behalf of the OIC that slammed the US backed resolution on Sri Lanka in Geneva last month and even called for a vote to contest the move. Ties between Pakistan and Sri Lanka remain enduring and robust, especially after Islamabad was one of the few countries to continue supplying ammunition to Sri Lanka during the final phase of its battle with the LTTE. But with the anti-Muslim rhetoric growing louder in the island and its impacts spilling over as violence against Muslims, their enterprises and places of worship, especially following the attack on Fashion Bug in Pepiliyana, Pakistan faces a dilemma with regard to its continued and unwavering support of Sri Lanka.

Pakistan gets a briefing

Last Friday while the Pakistan Foreign Secretary, Jalil Abbas Jilani was in Colombo for bilateral consultations, the Pakistani mission in Colombo arranged a special meeting for the official with key Muslim politicians and the community’s representatives to discuss the recent developments. Interestingly, the meeting was scheduled prior to Secretary Jilani’s meeting with Defence Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa. For several hours at the residence of Western Province Governor Alawi Moulana, Muslim representatives, including Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem and A.H.M. Azwer and other non-politicians briefed the Pakistani Foreign Secretary about the ground situation relating to Muslims in Sri Lanka. Minister Hakeem, who spoke first chose to be measured in his statements, but nonetheless highlighted the threats that Muslims were facing in the country due to the meteoric rise of Sinhala Buddhist hardline groups. Soon afterwards, Azwer who rose to speak rubbished the claims that Muslims were facing harassment. He said all communities were living peacefully in the country and said the incidents being reported were merely rumours. President of the Sri Lanka-Pakistan Friendship Association Ifthikhar Aziz who commented on the situation at the meeting warned that Muslims were facing a grave situation in the country but had shown tremendous patience and conducted itself as a mature minority in the face of threats from hardline groups. Aziz warned however that it took only one fool to react to the situation and make it spiral out of control. He explained that while the LTTE only represented the views of a small percentage of Tamils in their separatist claim, in the case of the Muslims, because it involved damaging insults to their religion, the entire community would get involved if matters reached boiling point and this situation had to be avoided at all costs. The visiting Pakistani official was briefed on the various incidents of Muslim harassment being reported, including the damage to the Korans in several mosques, the man-handling and verbal abuse directed at Muslim women wearing Hijab and campaigns calling on the Sinhalese to refrain from renting office or house space to Muslims. While appreciating the role Pakistan played in getting Sri Lanka the support of several Islamic nations at the UNHRC in Geneva last month, the Muslim representatives urged the visiting official that Islamabad also had a responsibility to remind the Government of Sri Lanka that the rights of the Muslim community in Sri Lanka must be protected.

Betrayed

By Saturday morning, President Rajapaksa had gotten wind of the meeting. He was aware of all those who had spoken at the meeting with the Pakistani Foreign Secretary and all the information that had been relayed. A fuming President questioned Governor Moulana as to why police entries had not been made regarding these incidents against Muslims. He said the National Intelligence Bureau was keen to investigate the issue. Although it was not certain how the information had been relayed to the President so swiftly, many members present believe that MP Azwer, who had stoically maintained there was no anti-Muslim campaign in the country, may have played Judas and repeated the proceedings of the meeting verbatim.

Vigil against BBS

Meanwhile resistance continues to build against the invective being propagated by the Bodu Bala Sena, both within the Buddhist community and outside it. Tomorrow, a Facebook group that has been making waves lately, calling itself the Buddhists Questioning Bodu Bala Sena, is organising a candlelit vigil outside the massive multi-storyed building on Havelock Road that houses the Bodu Bala Sena offices. The vigil will take place at 7 p.m. and is garnering significant support both off and online. Key leaders of the Bodu Bala Sena, including its vociferous General Secretary Galagodaththe Gnanasara are currently on a US tour, aimed at taking the group’s agendas international and will not witness the vigil. But organisers hope it will be the starting point of a peaceful battle of wills between the Bodu Bala Sena’s ideologies of hate and the teachings of Gautama Buddha that resonate with other religious and ethnic communities and could unite moderates in a worthy cause.

Speaking at a forum organized by the Young Journalists’ Movement on Monday, former Bishop of Colombo Rev. Duleep De Chickera stressed the need for religious communities and moderates from all communities to speak out when another community comes to harm. “Buddhists must speak out on behalf of the Muslims. Christians must speak out on behalf of the Hindus,” he said. All moderates must transcend ethnic and religious boundaries to speak in one voice against attempts to harm the people of a community. It is the only way to make an impact, he explained.

Sam’s plea

TNA Leader R. Sampanthan may have taken the first step in this regard during a speech in Parliament on Tuesday, even offering his regret that the course of Tamil-Muslim relations had not always run smooth. “Today the Muslim people are fearful; anxious and hurt by the invective surrounding them. As fellow minorities, the Tamil people feel the pain, the insecurity, the fear and the anxiety of our Muslim brothers and sisters. The relationship between the Tamils and Muslims has always been close – sometimes strained and to our perpetual shame, though very rarely, even violent and cruel – but always close. Our people are too closely intertwined for one to think that it can survive the fate of the other. We are connected to each other just as we are connected to the Sinhalese, the Malays and the Burghers; but the bonds of a common language and home cannot be broken easily. And so, when our Muslim brothers and sisters are harmed on the street; or attacked by mobs; or have their Mosques vandalized; we cannot unconcerned spectators,” the senior Tamil politician said in a brief but stirring statement to the House.

Sampanthan demanded that the violence against the Muslim people and the hate speech cease now. “We are conscious that the vast majority of the Sinhalese Buddhist people do not condone such actions and that they would very much wish to live in peace and harmony paying due respect to the rights of other Peoples,” he said.

The TNA response has garnered an ugly response even from sections of the Government. Sampanthan is being accused of being an LTTE proxy and failing to speak out when the LTTE was massacring Muslims in the East and cleansing them from the North. But his words have already made an impact. It has reinforced the fact that any response to the Bodu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya campaigns of hate against the Muslims must be multi-religious and multi-ethnic in composition, in order to prevent one religious extremist faction being met with another.

Sri Lankans rarely make the freedoms and rights of others their own problems. Slain Sunday Leader editor Lasantha Wickrematunge bemoaned this very fact, in his last editorial, ‘And then they came for me.’

Perhaps the time has come. The hour has grown so late and so much is finally at stake that speaking out is now imperative.

Courtesy Daily FT

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Latest comments

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    The only way forward for Sri Lankans is for the constitution to be amended that all religions and races have equal rights. NO special treatment for Buddhism or Sinhala language in the constitution. There should be no segregation of race, every one should be called a Sri Lankan, no Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher. Any violation of these ideas either by speech or in writing should be a punishable offence under the constitution.

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      Park,
      Your proposal is just,and should be implemented in a democracy.
      But,you are ignoring the fact that this regime of Mahinda Rajapakse aims to survive at all cost, and making buddhism equal to all other religions – from its exalted position in the constitution – will lose votes to the regime.This will never be allowed by UPFA politicians most of whom are sinhala-buddhist hardliners.

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        I believe that Sri Lanka has a modern Martin Luther King in M.A. Sumanthiran. If he can get into the presidency, I think he has the potential to be a great unifier. He seems to have respect for the law and also respect for the diversity of Sri Lanka. I think he is very respected.

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      You should know it,s never going to happen. You can see from last 4 yrs…Only way UN and IC intervention take security of minorities or accept separate state for tamils. The way going in srilanka, will be divided by help of sinhala budhist thugs…

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      Your idea of “NO special treatment for Buddhism or Sinhala language in the constitution. There should be no segregation of race, every one should be called a Sri Lankan, no Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim or Burgher…” is very interesting.

      But, don’t you think you are asking too much when you study the constitutions of almost all countries?
      What constitutions of other countries say about religious freedoms worldwide according to Shenali W.

      “Religious Freedoms worldwide

      Studies show that in a Muslim-majority nation there is a high level of government restrictions. Ironically, in these very Muslim nations Muslims themselves are often the victims of religious intolerance. It’s a battle over what type of Shariah law should be enacted, or who holds the reins of power in government – as Islam and its practice rests on the leaders that call the shots.

      Afghanistan – an Islamic Republic….The sacred religion of Islam shall be the religion of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan….No law shall contravene the tenets and provisions of the holy religion of Islam in Afghanistan

      Argentina –  Article 2 of the Constitution of Argentina reads: “The Federal Government supports the Roman Catholic Apostolic religion.” Article 14 guarantees all the inhabitants of the Nation the right “to profess freely their religion.”

      Canada – In most parts of Canada there is a Catholic education system alongside the secular “public” education system. They all run on Catholic principles and include religious activities and instruction as a matter of course. The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which is entrenched in the Constitution, states in the preamble that Canada “is founded upon principles that recognize the supremacy of God and the rule of law.”

      Denmark – Section 4 in the Constitution of Denmark: “The Evangelical Lutheran Church shall be the Established Church of Denmark, and, as such, it shall be supported by the State.”

      Finland – National churches of Finland, the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland and the Finnish Orthodox Church have a status protected by law. The special legal position of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland is also codified in the constitution of Finland.

      Malaysia – Islam is the official state religion and the Constitution of Malaysia provides for limited freedom of religion, notably placing control upon the ‘propagation’ of religion other than Islam to Muslims

      Saudi Arabia – Islamic theocratic monarchy in which Islam is the official religion; the law requires that all Saudi citizens be Muslims

      Turkey – 99.0% of the Turkish population is Muslim of whom a majority belong to the Sunni branch of Islam. The constitution explicitly states that they cannot become involved in the political process (by forming a religious party. No party can claim that it represents a form of religious belief. Turkey, like France, prohibits by law the wearing of religious headcover and theo-political symbolic garments for both genders in government buildings, schools, and universities.

      United Kingdom (UK) – provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701 which ensures that no Catholic shall ever be the monarch of the United Kingdom, nor shall they be married to one. Religious education is mandated in state schools based on a syllabus reflecting the country’s Christian traditions. Britain is a predominantly Christian country with two established, the Church of England (COE), the mother church of the Anglican Communion and state church in England and the Presbyterian Church of Scotland. The Church of Scotland is Presbyterian while the Church of England is Anglican (Episcopalian). The former is a national church guaranteed by law to be separate from the state, while the latter is a state-established church and any major changes to doctrine, liturgy, or structure must have parliamentary approval.

      Maldives – the supposed paradise for over 60,000 tourists annually are given arrival cards giving lists of prohibited items (materials contrary to Islam). Saudi Arabia and Maldives both 100% Muslim nations. The 2008 constitution adopted states “non-Muslim may not become a citizen of the Maldives”. In Maldives too the Wahhabi Islamic pattern is increasing. Women in the early 1990s did not wear the black burqa and men with long beards – but that is now seen increasing. Many say that these attire changes come with an exchange of remunerations both cash and kind!

      Iran’s constitution recognizes 4 religions whose status is formally protected – Zoroastrianism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

      In Egypt, a 2006 judgement by the Supreme Administrative Council demarcated recognized religions (Islam, Christianity, Judaism) and other religious beliefs – other religious affiliations were prohibited which means they including Bahai’s are denied rights of citizenship in their country – they cannot obtain ID cards, birth certificates, death certificates, marriage or divorce certificates, passports, they cannot be employed, educated, treated in public hospitals or vote!!!

      As far as religious freedoms go when it is forbidden for Muslims to convert from Islam to another religion Islam encourages conversions of non-Muslims to Islam. When the Vatican speaks of freedom of religion, equality of faiths – the Vatican will not consider ever putting a non-Catholic structure inside the Vatican City –
      Let’s look at the laws in some of these countries.   

      In France and Belgium students in state schools and government workers cannot wear “conspicuous religious symbols” – forbids Islamic headscarf, Sikh turban, large Christian crosses, Jewish yarmulke. Both countries ban people from publicly wearing full-face veils. France also forbids people from wearing any headgear in official identity document photos. The body covering burqa and face-covering niqabs in public was banned unanimously in France in April 2011 claiming 6.5million Muslims were not integrating into French society – the fine is €150 ($215). Those that force others to cover their faces will be subject to a fine of €30,000 ($43,000) and a year in jail. Human Rights Watch claims that the burqa and niqab do not constitute a religious practices sanctioned or prescribed by Islam but is only a cultural practice. The new law was introduced because French voters are becoming worried that the Muslim minority is building a parallel society in France which was why France claims multiculturalism is a failure.

      Switzerland, Netherlands and other EU states are debating similar prohibitions.

      In some Swiss and German states Islamic dress restrictions exist for teachers.

      The restrictions that are rising across the world and especially Europe are due to 2 main reasons : historical and demographic. Western Europe has a history of monolithic state religion and secularism was included as a mere monoculture. No one can deny that Norway treats their official churches as vestigial organs and they would not give that same place to any other religion whatever demands are made. The other factor that the world is now beginning to take serious note of is the rise in the Muslim population which go hand in hand with Islam and visible rise in their anti-secular behaviors and actions drawing rise in public sentiments forcing Western European parliamentarians to review the prevailing situation….”

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        see, the problem i have with arguments like yours is that we can’t copy the rest of the world- our priority is to stabilize our own country, not fitting into a global ‘trend’.

        “United Kingdom (UK) – provisions of the Act of Settlement 1701 which ensures that no Catholic shall ever be the monarch of the United Kingdom, nor shall they be married to one” that’s about to change, by the way. it’s coming up for debate in a couple months, and it looks like they’re going to get rid of that clause.

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        Bruno, thank you for your comment. From all the countries you have mentioned, the countries which do not practice true democracy and rule of law, use the text of the constitution in such a manner to harm the minorities. Those countries, including Canada where there are Catholic Schools there is no harm done to other religions. Not only Catholic schools there are Islamic schools as well in Canada. Constitutions are written years ago, and in countries where the rule of law and democracy is truly practiced, although the constitution may give a special place to one group, there is no need to amend the constitution as all minorities and the majority are treated equal. It is humanly impossible to think in advance (years ahead) when the constitutions are written how the world would change. A good example is the US constitution and the right to carry arms. I am very sure the fathers of the nation did not think that there should not be checks and balances re: carrying arms. So when the sections of the constitution are interpreted in a crude manner the constitution calls for amendment.

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    Thank you Dharisha for this excellent account. You are quite right to say that it’s the rise of the BBS that makes Medhananda look like a moderate. This “Universal Emperor of Archeology” has for years been claiming Buddhist ownership of many archeological sites in the north and east. This is all apiece with the theory that Sri Lanka is a Sinhala Buddhist country, which has only been strengthened post war. I do not see room for much optimism.

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    azwer the traitor. A gutter politician who is sacrificing the safety and secuirty of the muslim community for the perks and comforts for himself and his immediate family. The man behind the Qunooth debacle.
    He should be debarred from entering any mosques or meetings concerning the welfare of the muslims in this country. Azwer should know the ending of such traitors. I wonder what is the punishment that should be meted out for this of type of dirty betrayers. Is azwer blind to the happenings in the country? How can he say that these are all rumours. If azwer cannot be of any help to the muslim community at a time like this, he should atleast keep his damn mouth tightly shut. Thanks and sincere appreciations to all our Buddhist and Christian clergy, all our non muslim brothers, sisters and some of our non muslim politicians for their concern and support during this stressful period.

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      ASS-WER,

      I CHALLENGE YOU TO COME TO ANY MOSQUE,WITHOUT YOUR PROTECTORS

      ASS-WER, IF YOU DO NOT KEEP YOUR TRAP SHUT, YOU WILL BE SOON

      THE “LATE ASS-WER” THEN COMES THE PROBLEM. YOU WILL NOT BE

      ALLOWED TO BE BURIED IN A MUSLIM BURIAL GROUND. YOU HAVE
      SEVERAL OPTIONS -CREMATION,BURIAL AT SEA, THROWN TO THE VULTURES

      THIS COULD BE YOUR END, SINCE YOU HAVE GONE OUT THE FOLD OF ISLAM,
      BY DENYING WHAT IS HAPPENING TO MUSLIMS;

      Narated By Anas : There was a Christian who embraced Islam and read Surat-al-Baqara and Al-Imran, and he used to write (the revelations) for the Prophet. Later on he returned to Christianity again and he used to say: “Muhammad knows nothing but what I have written for him.” Then Allah caused him to die, and the people buried him, but in the morning they saw that the earth had thrown his body out. They said, “This is the act of Muhammad and his companions. They dug the grave of our companion and took his body out of it because he had run away from them.” They again dug the grave deeply for him, but in the morning they again saw that the earth had thrown his body out. They said, “This is an act of Muhammad and his companions. They dug the grave of our companion and threw his body outside it, for he had run away from them.” They dug the grave for him as deep as they could, but in the morning they again saw that the earth had thrown his body out. So they believed that what had befallen him was not done by human beings and had to leave him thrown (on the ground). (Bukhari 4:56:814

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        I hope Azwer reads this

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      I agree. ASSWER should go back to his old job at the Maliban Biscuit Factory and GOATAsena should opt for his old job as petrol pump attendant!!

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    It is good that all communities in Sri Lanka and the International Community is bringing pressure on the govt to halt this midsummer madness. Also it is commendable if the Defence Secretary and the President, given their standing with the Sinhala Buddhist majority, will even at this late stage, intervene to reverse this unholy trend.

    Maintaining ethno religous harmony and reconcilliation of the Sinhala and Tamil communities can be achieved if these two brothers take the correct decision. Otherwise they will go down in history as the destroyers and looters of this nation.

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      Do not forget the true Buddhist the President is married to a Christian. Is he a true Buddhist only until he gets home?

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    Yes,………. ‘And then they came for me.’

    Only time will tell who will come to protect Sri Lanka and it’s citizen when it’s been threatened by both inside and outside force.

    Also we could witness who will be the cowards who claim to be Patriots, who will run away to other countries seeking protection and shelter when country needs them.

    ONLY TIME AND TESTS WILL TELL.

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    While I agree with almost everything the author says, I can’t agree with the implication that a violent holocaust against muslim minorities requires them to somehow show violent opposition to the fascists. I think the fascist monks and their silent backers are capable all by themselves of whipping up hysteria and carrying out violence a la 1983 July which would make Gautama Buddha turn in his grave.

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      peebee
      the silent backers have already started their presidential
      election campaign.whip up tensions through the fascists and
      then make the victims run crying to the saviors and heroes
      sort out issues amicably and become peace lovers.Obama is
      waiting in queue to get a student visa to the paradise!

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    What about Muhudu Maha Viharaya Buddhist archaeological site issue near Potuvil? The gazetted archaeological reserve has been enchroached upon by Muslims and archaeological objects are disappearing day by day. Recently there was objection to a Stupa being built on the sea front. The incumbent Buddhist monks are facing harassment.This is not the first time it happened in the East.Aren’t theses issues inter-related? Why blame only one side? Shouldn’t Defence secretary visit that site also?

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    I wonder whether the author put any effort to verify the claims of ownership of Muslims to Kuragal. At least nothing is mentioned about archeological or historical records of the site.

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    CT – A well researched article by Dharisha Bastians. On a different note may I ask our notorious BALU BALA SENA group why they objected to Roshan Aboosally speaking in English, when she admitted that her fluency of speech in Sinhalese was not good. MaRa, CHaRa, GoRa, BaRa etc. speak in English both internationally and locally despite murdering the Queen??

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    Very interesting and informative article. It would seem that Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka is nearing it’s end and in it’s place another rebel breakaway religion is being born. Nothing is permanent. Every thing is ever changing. True Buddhists must get over their sadness for this change was not totally unexpected. They should try to preserve the original teachings found in books and manuscripts else The JHU, BBS and the government may destroy all evidence in the near future. History will also record Mahinda Rajapaksa as the Head of State responsible. Good people have tried to explain to this government that their path is wrong but they do not understand. The JHU monks are also so full of pride and conceit, and attachment to worldly pomp and pageantry that ironically it is they that are the catalyst for this great betrayal. At long last Sinhala Buddhism is about to replace Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

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    A very balanced and un-opinionated article written with much maturity and wisdom…

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    Azwer us the curse to the muslim community of sri lanka, he is their to protect his seat at any cost, soas now selling the community …..a boot licker

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      When he goes to the Pansala he wears the saffron robe provided by the BALU BALA SENA when he goes to the Kovil he wears the verti. Truth is stranger than fiction?? Asswar has taken over from Mervin the Vermin and Modawansa!

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    thank you Dharisha

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    Well written article. What are the Histotical facts

    “At long last Sinhala Buddhism is about to replace Theravada Buddhism in Sri Lanka.”

    1. The New Buddhism of Mahanama Monk being advocated bt BBS, will destroy the True Buddhism of Lanka.
    It will be Nazi Christianity, and will finally destroy the Buddhism.
    It will be Al Qaeda Buddhism. Distorting the true teachings of Buddha Dhamma,

    Other Facts.

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    Very biased and prejudicial story against Buddhists. Journalism at it’s lowest.

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    @By Dharisha Bastians –
    Greetings From Colombo.Thank you for your wonderful well written article , you are assured of a large moderate Sri Lankan readers with wisdom as your fans,and meanwhile I am over joyed at Our Defence Secretary’s action of creating a positive hope for the future of a relatively secured Sri Lanka where all Sri Lankans can live in peace which will enable us all to march forward to make SRI LANKA The Switzerland of Asia -all things are possible with a positive attitude ,if only we can come up with a CH form of constitution based on a homegrown system ,I can assure all we will be the Switzerland of Asia, but secularism must be implemented and accepted by all Lankans first and respect and freedom of religious practice to all without fear should be the first line of the such a constitution’s Charter if ever such a beautiful dream has to come true over this blessed Island of ours- Saluting The Defence Secretary with gratitude and please keep writing Madam – Dharisha Bastians ,people like you nourish our minds. God Bless you.

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