By Latheef Farook –
Demonised, battered and ostracised Muslim community of Sri Lanka is deeply disturbed at the detention of respected Islamic scholar Usthaz Rasheed Hajjul Akbar by the CCD since 25 August.
Known for his simple life religious scholar Usthaz Hajjul Akbar has been the president of intellectually oriented Sri Lanka Jama’athe Islami with around 85 branches all over the country for 24 years-from 1994 to 2018,
His record of service to community and the country has been so impeccable that he sacked his own brother and his two children due to their extreme views.
He has been taken for questioning several times ever since two of his nephews were accused of involvement in the defacing of Buddha statue and since the Easter Sunday bombings and killings with which the Muslim community as a whole had nothing to do.
According to his sons he had so far given seven statements to different authorities. He had answered all their questions and cleared doubts.
Jama’athe Islami head office at Dematagoda Road in Maradana, Colombo was inspected more than 21 times by different authorities .They could not find anything to associate Usthaz Hajjul Akbar or Jama’athe Islami with violence.
Yet Usthaz Hajjul Akbar was taken for questioning on 25 August .Since then only his two sons were allowed to see him for about fifteen minutes in the presence of officials.
In view of the devastating impact of his detention on the morale of the community, seven leading civil society organisations have written to President Maithripala Sirisena, with copy to Prime Minister Ranil wickremesinghe, urging to release Usthaz Hajjul Akbar assuring that he would be available to assist further questioning and investigation on any date at any place.
This include National Shoora Council, All Ceylon YMMA conference, All Ceylon Union of Muslim League Youth Front, Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, Muslim Media forum and All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema.
As it is commonly known and repeatedly stated by Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith the Muslim community has nothing to do with Easter Sunday bombings and killings. Some described the handful of Muslims involved as contract killers who were used scapegoats to implement evil designs of international forces on the island’s Muslim community causing immense damage to communal harmony.
The JVP leader Anura kumara Dissanayake disclosed in the parliament that as early as March 2007 several Muslim organisations in Kattankudi and other places informed President Sirisena, Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe, intelligence services, police and all others concerned about Zahran ,his associates and their planned attacks.
Unfortunately no precautionary measures were taken to prevent the carnage and the Muslim community is paying the price.
Yet to help ensure the security of the country, Muslims fully cooperated with security officers in their search operations. Some Muslims even informed their own relatives suspected of any involvement.
In a statement Muslim community has vehemently condemned this massacre and issued a statement signed by prominent Muslims.
Almost five months later today many speculate that the Easter Sunday carnage was a meticulously planned and implemented conspiracy aimed at destroying the Muslim community in keeping with the racist slogan that” we will first deal with Tamils and then deal with Muslims.
Many suspect that this conspiracy involves the government and opposition combined, racist monks, racist media, racist bureaucracy, racist businessmen and others hell bent on crushing Muslims.
It appears they prepared their conspiracy, in collaboration with global anti-Muslim forces, in the hope of pitting Christians against Muslims. However timely interference by Cardinal Malcolm Ranith declaring that the Muslim community has nothing to do with this massacre shattered the conspiracy preventing conspirators from implementing their evil design.
From the very inception Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith demanded the government to disclose the international forces executed the massacre. Several ministers including Lakshman Hulugalla said “this was done by international forces using local Muslim scape goats-(zahran and his team).
However government has so failed to respond to this request. Local media mercenaries, hell bent on demonizing Muslims with lies and deception poisoning innocent Sinhalese minds, refused to raise the issue of foreign forces involvement up to date.
President Sirisena imposed emergency laws and declared a campaign which ended up persecuting Muslims as every Muslim was projected a terror suspect. As part of this campaign the government deployed forces to search Muslim owned properties from mosques, houses and business establishments to all such places. Muslim men and women were taken to custody on ridiculous allegations and produced before courts after keeping in custody.
Search operations resembled Israeli search operations in the occupied Palestinian areas while violent attacks burning Muslim owned properties and even killing innocent Muslims resembled the Hindu fascist RSS, BJP, VHP, and Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal attacks on Muslims in north India.
Organized racist thugs were given free hand. Muslim houses, business establishments, hotels and other such places were burnt during curfew while an innocent fasting Muslim was chopped to death and another battered Muslim man was dragged in the street to hospital where he died.
Every Muslim man, woman and even children, were treated with suspicion, hatred and bitterness almost everywhere. So called search operations using emergency regulations have become nightmare for innocent Muslim families who remain frightened. Not only hospital security but even shops and super markets force Muslim women to remove traditional shawls.
The community as a whole resist security forces entering Mosques and houses with their boots taking dogs. Mosques usually comprise of large prayer halls with one or two rooms. Thus there is no need for forces to enter with boots and take dogs inside.
To Muslims worldwide there is nothing more sacred than the holy Quran which was revealed to the entire human being through Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Muslims always read the Quran with ablution. Fear driven on the community was such many Muslims burnet their copies of Holy Quran.
Mobs laid siege to the Kuliyapitiya, Hettipola, Aukana, Kottampitiya, Nikaweratiya and Minuwangoda town area driving Muslim families, in the midst of their Ramadan fast, into paddy fields for hiding.
The police curfew meant nothing to the mobs who roamed free as Muslim families fled their homes fearing for their lives. Muslims have lost all faith in the police, security forces and the government to provide them protection.
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. Mob were free when they started to burn houses, shops, and business establishments, mosques .They burnt and destroyed around 500 units in around 30 Muslim villages.
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 beaten and battered Muslim being dragged on the street to hospital. In the process he died.
This was the plight of Muslims in almost around 30 villages which were virtually burnt down. Multi million rupee businessmen were made paupers overnight.
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
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.
More than a thousand year old Muslim community in the island was destroyed within 20 minutes. These attacks, began at 8.45 in the morning on 21 April and ended at 9.05, dealt a death blow to Muslims who have nothing to do with this massacre.
In an interview with Daily Mirror on September 5 Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka who exploited the opportunity to dump Colombo garbage in the Muslim area of Aruwakkal in Puttalam said” today, Muslims have been cornered in society. Their businesses have collapsed. Muslim professionals find it difficult to perform their jobs,
It was under this atmosphere that the Muslims were deeply concerned about the detention of Hajjul Akbar.
The unanswered question how will these atrocities help unite communities and create a peace and harmony which remains myth in the island today.