By Hilmy Ahamed –
The death of a Sri Lankan in Syria, fighting with the IS (Islamic State or Caliphate) also known as ISIS has opened up a new front for extremist elements to target the Muslim community as terrorists or sympathizers of terrorism. Islam forbids taking of innocent lives, and the violence perpetrated by terrorists in the name of Islam is neither Islamic nor humane. Thus the irresponsible action of an individual should not be a reflection of a whole community, as Muslims have been a peaceful and patriotic community in Sri Lanka during their 1200-year history in the country.
Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero, the General Secretary of the Bodu Bala Sena, the Bodu Janatha Peramuna (BJP) and candidate for the Kalutara District, has launched his political campaign by once again attacking and branding every Muslim as a terrorist. His clarion call for the Sinhalese to “wake up”, his ominous augury “Abasaranai” to the Muslims in Aluthgama and the hate speech on 15th of June 2014 that led to the riots against the Aluthgama Muslims destroyed the peace that existed between the two communities. Now, his verbal diatribe and racism meant to help him to step in to Parliament, seem to get more vicious and venomous as the symbol for his new party, the cobra. He has now condemned every Muslim Civil, Religious and Political organisation as sponsors of terrorism in Sri Lanka. The media reports of the death of a Sri Lankan following a twisted ideology while fighting with IS (ISIS) has given him the ammunition to call every Muslim a terrorist or sponsor of terrorism. Little does he realize that he is the one who has been unleashing terror against the Muslims and other minorities in Sri Lanka, making him a terrorist as per the definition provided in Wikipedia –Terrorism is commonly defined as violent acts (or the threat of violent acts) intended to create fear (terror), perpetrated for an economic,religious, political, or ideological goal, and which deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (e.g., neutral military personnel or civilians).
His attempts to lay blame on IS or other Muslim extremist groups for the Aluthgama riots clearly exposes his complicity in the Aluthgama violence on June 15th 2014. His detestable oration was a provocative speech full of racist venom in which he asserted that the Police and military were Sinhala and that no Muslim or Tamil or anyone else could harm a Sinhalese and get away with it. “This country still has a Sinhalese Police, this country still has a Sinhalese Army. It will be the end of all if someone at least lays a finger on a Sinhalese”. And now he claims that extremist terrorists from abroad, including IS were behind the destruction of lives and livelihood in Aluthgama and Beruwela.
The IS is a group of terrorists and is a creation of non-Islamic states to destabilize the Middle East and its economy. Elimination of strong Muslim leaders such as Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi and the attempted removal of Assad from office are considered the precursor to their dreadful agenda. The IS is a serious threat to Islam and the group violates both Sharia law and humanitarian law. Islam is a religion of mercy, peace and tolerance that totally forbids taking of innocent lives. There is no theological basis for any crime to be committed through terrorism or violence.
The Muslims of Sri Lanka as well as Islamic scholars and Muslim leaders around the world have condemned without any reservation the IS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi for failing to respect key tenets of Islam.
The IS has attracted many volunteer fighters, both men and women from all over the world including the USA, Europe, Australia etc. They have joined the IS based on misguided ideology or as mercenaries for monetary and political incentives as large oil reserves in the Middle East are now in the control of the IS. Some of these fanatics have joined IS as part of their fighting force while others have joined humanitarian efforts to assist victims of war.
The Sri Lankan’s death adds another country to the list of nationalities joining this dreaded terrorist organisation. Regretfully, media reports of the first Sri Lankan killed in Syria has afforded the opportunity for racist elements like Ven. Ganansara Thero to rekindle the fear factor on Sri Lankans of a possible threat of terrorism again.
The BBS and Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnansara Thero are considered as the main reason for the defeat of President Mahinda Rajapaksa at the January 2015 presidential elections. Now, he seems to unleash the same brand of racism to incite racial tensions amongst the different ethnic communities. Their entrance to Sri Lankan politics needs a platform slogan; the death of a Sri Lankan IS combatant has given him the opportunity to fire from all angles. Little does he realize that the majority of the Sinhala Buddhists did not fall for his racist rhetoric during the last presidential election. A repeat is expected on the 17th of August, 2015.