By Latheef Farook –
Muslims are least bothered about ministerial portfolios; They expect positive overtures from President Gotabaya
In the wake of Presidential elections which brought former Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabaya Rajapaksa to power, Dinesh Gunerwadena said both “Rauf Hakeem and Rishard Bathiudeen would not be accepted into the new government.” This was reiterated by both Mr Wimal Weerawansa and Udaya Gammanpila, known for their racist mindsets and extreme hostility towards Muslims, when they made similar statements.
Muslim community is not concerned whether the government gives Rauf Hakeem and Rishard Bathiudeen ministerial portfolios or not. What the community is concerned is the need for the new government to understand their plight, stop the shameless violence against them, and attend to their grievances and the sufferings caused by unwanted problems imposed on them.
Top most in their list of grievances is the need to stop senseless organized violence for no valid reason and the protection given to racist thugs who were involved in this violence.
The island’s Muslim community was never interested in forming a separate Muslim party. As everyone knows Muslims were part and parcel of the two major national political parties – UNP and SLFP.
For example respected Muslim leader Dr M.C.M.Kaleel was not only the treasurer of UNP but was also its chairman. Veteran Muslim politician Sir Razik Fareed who spent his wealth on the community and fought single handedly for Muslim rights while maintaining healthy relations with the Sinhalese community, had always been with national political parties.
It was the short sighted racist politics of the two main national parties.UNP and SLFP forced Muslim to support when some ambitious individuals decided to exploit the helplessness of the community by forming a separate political party.
Even in this case several Muslim politicians in the south warned the SLMC founder late A.H.M. Ashraff of the grave consequences of starting a separate party to those Muslims who were living in peace and harmony in the midst of Sinhalese in the rest of the country.
Finally it was the arrogant dismissal of Muslims by late President JR Jayewardene when he said that Muslims can remain in the government or leave when a delegation led by All Ceylon Muslim League leader Dr M.C.M Kaleel met him and appealed not to allow Israelis into the island in view of their century’s old hostility and crime records against Muslims.
More than quarter century later today it appears that the Muslims’ fear was proved t in view of Israel’s suspected role in the violence against Muslims since the end of the ethnic war in May 2009.
In the end JR Jayewardene’s arrogance, Indian conspiracies to divide Tamil and Muslim communities and Ashraff’s desire to have a political platform led to the birth of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, SLMC, on 11 February 1988.
The SLMC came with the slogan of Islam and unity. Islam disappeared at birth when Ashraff fled Kalmunai to seek refuge at a lawyer’s house in Colombo. The unity could be seen in the division of SLMC into more than half a dozen groups. SLMC politicians openly and shamelessly shifted their alliances during the recent presidential elections when they were all, as many accused, bought over by different sides.
Corruption has been an integral part of SLMC from its inception though Ashraff had done lot to help the community. However the power struggle within the party after his death was exploited by Sinhala leadership to throw baits-ministerial portfolios- and divide the SLMC.
Over the years today the SLMC and its splinter groups became notorious for selling the community for positions and perks resulting even Muslims losing respect and confidence on them.
Muslims suffered immense during the ethnic war. Once the war ended in 2009 they expected peace and return to normal life. However to their shock disgusting violence was unleashed against the entire community under the Rajapaksa government. This violence continued with greater intensity under Maithri-Ranil’s disastrous government.
In the aftermath of Easer Sunday bombings and killings, while Muslims were subjected to violence, dogs taken into mosques by soldiers wearing shoes and hundreds of Muslims were taken into custody for no valid reason, shameless Muslim politicians invited Maithri and Ranil for their family functions.
In the same way while Muslims in and around Kandy were frightened expecting anything to happen due to the tense atmosphere built up by fasting monk , here in Colombo controversial moulavi was seen breaking Ifthar fast with former president Sirisena.
Thus Muslims were fed up with their politicians and the equally controversial half-baked mullahs.
On the one hand Muslim politicians abandoned the community in their rush for positions. On the other hand, implementing its evil racist agenda, government persecuted them.
This is the reason why the Muslims are least worried about ministerial portfolios for their politicians. All what they expect from the new President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is to create an environment with new overtures where they could live in peace.
They are eagerly expecting positive signs from President Gotabaya and his government though it include many known for their hatred towards Muslims.