24 June, 2024


‘Moulding Muslim Culture’ Echoes Chinese Uyghur Experiment

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

The July 7th Rally of the Un-Enlightened” (Colombo Telegraph, 4 July 2019), that fizzled out without the expected turnout of 10,000 Buddhist monks, was the most emphatic demonstration yet by the majority Sinhala Buddhists that they would not allow hatred and bigotry to hijack the millennial legacy of peaceful coexistence of different religions and cultures in Sri Lanka. The low turnout to that rally brought a sigh of relief for hundreds of thousands of Muslims in and around Kandy, who feared for the worse, after enduring repeated violence in the hands of an inebriated mob, brainwashed by an Islamophobia manufactured by the organizers of this rally. It is no exaggeration to say that since that horrible Easter carnage in April, the entire Muslim community has been unjustifiably asked to account for the lunacy of a few, a phenomenon not confined to Sri Lanka only.

However, the hidden agenda of the far-right and extremist groups like Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), Mahoson Balakaya, Sinha Le and so on, in respect of the Muslim community needs be understood in light of what was announced in that rally by BBS secretary, Gnanasara. From the beginning, and at least since the Alutgama riots of 2015, BBS and its obstreperous secretary, were vociferous in demanding expulsion of all Muslims to Saudi Arabia or any other Arab country, by reinventing a 19thcentury argument advanced by Anagarika Dharmapala & Co. in a different context, that Muslims were “aliens” in Sri Lanka. The fact that this community, like the Sinhalese and Tamils before, were also foreigners but arrived last and that they were indigenised over one thousand years ago did not matter in BBS’ twisted history. Its ultimate goal is to make this island one hundred percent Sinhala Buddhist. It was this aspiration that was once again reinforced in Kandy, when Gnanasara announced that ‘”every home must have an owner and Sinhalese are the owners of Sri Lanka”. When saying that he quite naively expected the Tamils also to accept their status as tenants and live until they too would be ejected one day.

Perhaps, after realising the impossibility of wholesale expulsion of any community for that matter, especially in the current context of a globally integrated nation state system, BBS now believes that a solution to the so called ‘Muslim Problem’ should be found within the country. There are three models in recent history which it could adopt, when given the power, to make its dream comes true. The most extreme of the three was Hitler’s “final solution” to the Jewish problem. His Gas Chambers and organised pogroms killed millions of Jews and provoked the infamous Holocaust. “Never again”, vowed those who escaped the Holocaust and never will the world tolerate such monstrosity to take place anywhere. Even though one thoughtless monk wished that Gotabaya Rajapaksa should play the role of a Hitler to clean the country out of its mess, it is doubtful whether that priest was thinking of a final solution to a Muslim problem.

The second model, although of equal horror but on a lesser scale, was that executed by the regime in Myanmar, which allowed the soldiers and a vengeful mob kill and rape thousands of Rohingya Muslims, burn their houses and crops, and forced hundreds of thousands cross over to Bangladesh. One of their monks, U Wirathu aka Win Khaing Oo, who the Economsit described as the “Face of Terror”, and who blessed that cleansing in the name of Buddhism, also visited Sri Lanka and was accorded a red carpet welcome by the then president, Rajapaksa. If that horror were to be repeated in this country, there is no land border for Muslims to cross but only the Indian Ocean to drown. BBS and its partner groups like Mahoson Balakaya and Sinha-Le may welcome that. But they have to face the wrath of the majority Sinhala Buddhists of this country whose spirit of tolerance is unparalleled in the annals of Asian history.

The third model is the softest and is the one that lurks behind Gnanasara’s “moulding” of Muslim culture. This model is the one that is currently being experimented by the Chinese government to produce a new generation of Uyghurs who would forget their ethnicity and religion, Islam, to become completely merged with the culture and values of main stream Chinese. According to several but reliable accounts, Uyghurs are now locked up in a huge concentration camp and are undergoing an intensive cultural cleansing. Of course, no government in Sri Lanka would dare to adopt this experiment, and that is why Gnanasara wants a mandate from President Sirisena, who released this man from prison, to undertake this moulding. Is he and his fellow monks of the same ilk going to turn their temples into correction centres where the ulama could be forced to attend lessons and training? Or, are they aspiring to invade mosques and madrasas to brainwash its attendants with their de-Islamization program? Gnanasara is trumpeting that he wants to eradicate Islamic fundamentalism in this country. He also confuses religious fundamentalism with Wahhabism and extremism. These three are not mechanically connected. A religious fundamentalist can remain non-Wahhabi and moderate. Similarly an extremist need not be a religious fundamentalist nor a Wahhabi. In any case how can any of these be eradicated without the cooperation of Muslims?

One can understand this type of half-baked and nationally destructive ideas of BBS and other such elements in our society. But, what one cannot understand is the determined silence of a Presidency, government and parliamentary opposition to counter this madness. The Sinhala Buddhist majority has shown its utter disgust by not answering BBS call to rally in Kandy. Where is the voice of sanity from national leaders? Either, they do not want to give importance to the utterings of a few miscreants, which is understandable but not at the expense of the damage they are causing to the country’s economy and societal harmony, or, they are hypocritically awaiting to reap electoral benefits from politicised Buddhism in the forthcoming elections.

That said, there is no question that the Muslim community and its religious and educational institutions need be reformed. That reformation has to be undertaken by Muslims themselves under an enlightened leadership that understands the current dilemma. No outsider has any mandate to dictate and force reforms upon a community. The All Ceylon Jaiyyathul Ulama (ACJU) and Muslim politicians who are in bed with them have been too lackadaisical or obstinately obstructive in initiating and implementing reforms. Their joint stand against reforming the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act for example, illustrates best their obscurantism. Tom start with, ACJU must include within its hierarchy qualified men and women from other fields. The religious class has arrogated for too long the name ulama exclusively to itself. That name, which is simply the plural of alim, meaning a learned person, applies even to secularly educated intellectuals. Why aren’t secular experts admitted into ACJU? Once ACJU itself is reformed that body can become a progressive force to stimulate changes.

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Latest comments

  • 5

    Muslims are in China for 1400 years , with the birth of Islam and there are
    39,000 Mosques in there and out of which 25,000 . are in Xingjiang region
    where Uyghur ,Turkish origins are living , according to reports .Many
    Chinese rulers encouraged Muslims coming to China and involved them
    in Chinese administration , war and diplomacy matters with the rest of
    the world and also there were those like Gengiskhan who restricted
    Muslims enjoying their own lifestyle which discouraged them from coming
    to China . Now , what has all this and other stories of Muslims all over the
    world got to do with what’s going on in Srilanka about Muslims ? It is
    simply everything about cheap politics that has nothing else left to do !
    For real politics , Easter attack and the consequent behaviour of the Monks
    were a golden opportunity in disguise to separate religion and politics for
    good ! Instead , the entire majority chose to settle it with the door to door
    search of Muslims for more weapons and restrict their way of life ! Muslim
    business boycott calls were made , baseless allegations were made and
    even Muslim fellow politicians were targeted while the most controversial
    political Monk was released on presidential pardon and was allowed to
    hold Hate speech rally purely against Muslims ! The rally was a total failure.
    It is still not too late to tell the Bhikkus to mind their business ! Islamic
    extremism will automatically follow suit ! To do this , leaders must have a
    solid backbone . Separate religion from politics , the only way forward
    because this is the only major hurdle at the moment .

    • 0

      Dr. Ameer Ali,

      Ulama? See what Ibn Rushd, aka Averroes, one of the greatest Islamic Philosophers,had to say snout Ulams 900 years ago. They are not the people of knowledge.

      What happened? They got hold of the rulers, banished him and burned all his books and the philosophy books.

      Will the Ulama go along with the MMDA which, they said was perfect earlier ?

      Can a study me made regarding the IW of the Ulama to see if it is closet to 79 or well below 79, the mean IQ of Sri Lankans?

  • 9

    Muslims are going back to their roots. They spread their religion by slaughtering whole countries. Then became peaceful. Now, they are back.

    • 3

      Then, what the heck have Sinhala Buddhist fanatics been doing in the name of the Dhamma?

  • 11

    Muslims are bigots.

    They believe they were made by god. If it is true, it is a very bad product( man) and a painful life by something said to be all powerful.( by 70 all are dead or near dead after a life full of trouble, sickness and labour. Only consolation are the virgins after death !)

    • 4

      You write as if you are an expert in religious knowledge. There are bigots in all religions, including Buddhism, Judaism, and Christianity.
      They make stupid comments and tar everyone with the same brush as extremists, and write as if they are experts in another religion.
      They are usually people who are clueless, but are bigots themselves, which is seen in the way they talk and write. Get educated before you criticize a religion you know nothing about.

    • 0

      Everyone that believes in God believes that he/she was made by God.
      The Jews believe that they were the chosen race.
      Brahmins believe that they emerged from the head of the supreme being.
      Why pick on one group?
      There is some bigotry in each of us. That of others we can see, that of us we cannot.

    • 2

      kebab ,

      Usually I ignore your type of comments for a reason I believe in
      but I do feel to be different for a change because of my belief in
      change . I just want to write three lines to your bigotry charge
      against Muslims .
      1. Indonesia has the world largest Temple in Borabudur .
      2.Iran is reported , according to 2015 Believers in Christ , to have
      the fastest growing number of Christians in the world .

      • 0

        15 years ago I visited an active Armenian Christian church in Isfahan, the home of the Islamic Revolution. (The architecture was unlike what we see in the West.)
        Iran apparently gave refuge to Armenian Christians escaping the Turks some centuries ago. The Christian community seemed to live in harmony with the locals.

      • 0

        Please read No . 1 as :
        Indonesia has the world largest Buddhist Temple in Borabudur.

    • 3


      “Muslims are bigots.”

      Maybe true if you are Muslim.
      Watch this documentary:

      Despite tension between Iran and Israel, Iran’s Jewish minority feels at home

  • 1

    “The Muslim Voice” fully agrees with the last para statement written in Dr. Amir Ali’s above article/content.
    Quote “To start with, ACJU must include within its hierarchy qualified men and women from other fields. The religious class has arrogated for too long the name ulama exclusively to itself. That name, which is simply the plural of alim, meaning a learned person, applies even to secularly educated intellectuals. Why aren’t secular experts admitted into ACJU? Once ACJU itself is reformed that body can become a progressive force to stimulate ” Unquote.
    But Dr. Amir Ali and all learned Sri Lankan Muslims and concerned Muslim vote bank/community should be “BOLD ENOUGH” to face the below stated “REALITY” and work towards correcting them, Insha Allah.
    1. We Muslims are known for NOT leading the Muslim (Islamic Way of Life) bestowed by our belief and FAITH.
    2. We are (especially) the POLITICIANS & ULEMA/MOULAVI’S are NOT UNITED.
    4. Our dealings are NOT CLEAN with other Communities.
    5. We have BETRAYED the political leaders of the country who are so much loved by the MAJORITY SINHALA PEOPLE.
    6. We are ARROGANT and EXTRAVAGANT in our day to day life.
    8. WE are OPPORTUNISTIC, especially in POLITICS and LEADERSHIP. Our Muslim Politicians and Ulema/Moulavi’s have back-stabbed the most loved Sinhala leaders like the former President after STOOGING to him and his siblings and politically destroyed them which the Buddhist, especially the Monks despite.
    9. We will “buy” anyone by our ill earned money power to get our things done, even against our community and its members.
    10. We practice the CULTURE of SMUGGLING and dealing in DRUGS as normal business though it is banned in ISLAM, and we think going to Mecca (making UMMRAH) purifies us from those SINS.

  • 2

    Could some body please tell me what we have achieved by adhering religious faiths?
    My contention is that religions are the cause of ‘devils disaster’ to humans. With no disrespect to devil or religion.

    • 0

      K . Anaga ,

      The laws that shape our lives today , didn’t come out of the blue !
      If you go back a couple of thousands of years you find how we
      came this far . In my personal experience , I met a Londoner with
      enough fortunes in London and abroad who said to me that he
      felt like running away from all this comforts right into a jungle
      and spend the rest of the life with the nature , fully disconnected
      from modern technology , even from mobile phone ! A young
      European citizen ! Not a religious character of any kind ! And also
      noteworthy to look back at what Karl Marx said about the invention
      of machinery ” Without doubt , machinery has greatly increased the
      number of well-to-do idlers.”

  • 1

    37 countries, including Pak and Saudi, defend China in UN letter over XinjiangANI News·6 hours ago

  • 0

    Muslims must pray harder. The present level is not sufficient and not to the satisfaction of Allah. In fact they
    seem to be praying to unbelivers to spare them from trouble. No unbeliver can harm a Muslim who has genuine faith in Allah.


    • 1


      ” The present level is not sufficient and not to the satisfaction of Allah. “

      Do you have a direct red (green) hotline to Allah? If you have could you ask him what was the purpose somass’s mother giving birth to him?

      “No unbeliver can harm a Muslim who has genuine faith in Allah.”

      However, those who believe in Anagarika, Banda, DS, Sirimao, Rajaratna, …………. Cyril Mathew, Dutta Gamani, ….. Mahinda, Gota, somass’s favourite VP, ……………… being the father gods can do many things Hitler would not dare even if Muslim who has genuine faith in Allah.

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