By Latheef Farook –
In one of the most shameful and disgusting developments, all Muslim cabinet ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers who resigned from their portfolios recently, were sworn in before President Mithripala Sirisena this week.
Earlier the ministers, deputy ministers and state ministers resigned from their portfolios to provide space to carry out independent investigations into the Easter Sunday attacks. However, as expected, they accepted their portfolios even before an independent investigation was completed.
This was not something unexpected. Their so called resignation was only to hoodwink the community. They were shameless actors in the drama orchestrated by Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe to suit his agenda.
They were clinging on to the very Maithri-Ranil government which was responsible for the persecution of Muslims since the Eastern Sunday massacre on April 21.
This has been their tradition especially those belonging to Sri Lanka Muslim Congress which came with the slogan of unity but remain divided into more than half a dozen parties. Their so called religious slogan disappeared at birth.
From the very inception the Muslim community has declared that it has nothing to do with the Easter Sunday carnage. Cardinal Malcom Ranith has repeatedly described locals involved as misguided youths stating international forces were behind these bombings.
Both President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe who failed to prevent the carnage, refused to discuss who these international forces were. Instead adopted diversionary tactics keeping the country occupied with a senseless and devastating anti-Muslim campaign.
Three months later today it is becoming clear that this campaign is a well-planned conspiracy aimed at destroying the Muslim community. This involves the government and opposition combined, racist monks, racist media, racist bureaucracy, and racist businessmen. It was so comprehensive that the very foundation of more than a thousand year old Muslim community was destroyed within 20 minutes of bombing.
President Sirisena declared emergency and deployed troops to search Muslim owned premises including mosques. Search operations became nightmare for Muslim families and hundreds were taken to custody on flimsy grounds and detained for weeks with reports of ill treatment.
Dismissing the religious sentiments of Muslims, troops entered mosques and many other places with boots accompanied by sniper dogs during the Holy Month of Ramadan fast.
President Sirisena swiftly banned face cover- burqa and niqaf.
Organized racist thugs were given free hand to commit violence against Muslims in the North East and Kurunegala district especially Minuwangoda. According to report President Sirisena was aware of the attacks on May 13.Instead of deploying troops and preventing the attacks he left the island to China in the morning leaving the disarmed and helpless Muslims to face well equipped killers.
Muslim houses, business establishments, hotels and other such places were burnt during curfew hours while an innocent 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 last year was garlanded and taken in procession.
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 and this ostracization continues unabated.
One columnist pointed out that “Life has become a nightmare in their ordinary day to day living and virtually changed every aspect of life in the island’s Muslim population. 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. He added that racism has found a new meaning in Sri Lanka. And everything Muslims are being targeted.There is total harassment of Muslims in public places, buses and trains, taxis and even in work places.
Every Muslim man, woman and even children, were treated with suspicion, hatred and bitterness almost everywhere. Not only hospital security but even shops and super markets force Muslim women to remove traditional shawls.
Summing up the plight of Muslims in an article under the title “unmasking anomalies; trail of terrorism in Sri Lanka” columnist S.M.M. Bazeer had this to state;
It is highly distressing that the entire Muslim population in Sri Lanka is under siege and subject to enormous challenges to conduct their day to day affairs. Every morning is dawned with stories of harassment and attacks inflicted on the Muslims by majority community. The tardiness and inefficiencies of the armed forces and the police in controlling attacks on the Muslims, their properties and Mosques are seen by the victims as a deliberate act of connivance. Muslims are vetted everywhere, whether it’s public or private institutions, treated with excessive suspicion and looked upon as suspects or potential suicide bomber.
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.
Interfering further into the religious life of the community the government ordered mosques to submit copies of sermons given within their premises.
The ongoing campaign is so vicious that a Muslim company which provided daily free meals to around 3000 – breakfast-lunch and dinner- to cancer hospital patients and visitors cancelled this generosity due to adverse comments.
In this tense atmosphere, tearing apart the communities, came the shocking call by Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera, the incumbent Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter, for stoning to death of Muslims and urging Sinhala Buddhists to refrain from frequenting Muslim-owned shops and consuming food offered by Muslims. The Chief Prelate also asked Sinhalese Buddhists not to go to Muslim owned shops, and not to eat the food they offer as Muslims don’t love Sinhalese.
Meanwhile the Easter Sunday carnage also brought in the United States – European and Israeli war mongers’ Islamophobia to the island in full force, pushing Muslims to the wall, tearing apart communities causing political chaos and economic collapse.
In the wake of this tragedy the mainstream media unleashed a full scale campaign demonizing Islam and describing the entire Muslim community as terrorists. This campaign which could be described as “Media Terrorism” went on in full force for three long weeks during which the security forces emptied Muslims houses of even kitchen knives under search operations during emergence rule and curfew.
The coverage blatantly provoked non-Muslims against the Muslim community.
Racist media campaign, accusing Dr Mohamed Shafi of Kurunegala hospital of blocking the fallopian tubes of Sinhalese mothers, had all the ingredients to create another July 83 type carnage. However when the case against Dr. Mohamed Shafi was taken up for hearing at the Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court, Criminal Investigations Department, CID, said the investigations carried out so far had not proved that Dr. Mohammed Shafi had blocked the fallopian tubes of mothers, amassed wealth in illegal manner or had maintained links with a terrorist organization
He was later released on conditional bail.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet says that she is disturbed by reports of anti-Muslim attacks and recent statements by some religious leaders inciting violence.
On the whole communities are failing apart and the country is sinking under the weight of deepening political crisis, economic and social collapse.
Maithri-Ranil government has ended up as a disaster for the country. It was in under this circumstance that parliamentarians who call themselves Muslims were sworn in this week.