Not In Our Name: Against Religious Extremism In Sri Lanka

Filed under: Colombo Telegraph,MORE OPINION,Opinion |
 

Please Read and sign!!

What happened

Religion
A week ago, a violent a mob of about 2,000 Sinhalese, including a group of Buddhist monks led by the Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter Inamaluwe Sumangala thero, stormed and vandalised a mosque in Dambulla. The mosque was declared an illegal structure, but it is unclear how this far this is accurate.

Several videos, broadcast on national TV in Sri Lanka and now circulating globally on YouTube capturing the violence beggars belief. There are members of the sangha engaged in physical violence and verbal abuse. There is a member of the sangha who disrobes and exposes himself, in public, in front of the mosque. In one video, Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala thero suggests that the maniacal mob is actually a shramadaanaya, and that destroying the mosque is something that they should in fact be helped by the government.

Aside from the physical violence, which includes scuffles with Army and Police personnel, the derogatory and racist language employed by Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala thero and other Buddhist monks during the attack against the mosque, and a nearby Hindu kovil, is appalling. Though the violence of the Sinhala idiom employed loses much in translation, Groundviews put into English the most disquieting comments for a wider appreciation. More startling are anti-Muslim, Sinhala-Buddhist supremacist Facebook groups that have thousands of active members and with content too inflammatory to even translate.

A week after this violence,it has not received the condemnation it deserves from the President, government or mainstream media. Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala thero, perhaps reacting to the indelible record of violence captured in film, attempted to suggest to the BBC that the footage of the mob broadcast on TV was doctored. Ironically, his own media websites showcase the same violence, in greater detail.  A Press Release issued on 25th April from the Government Information Department, only in Sinhala, strangely referred to the violence as a ‘minor misunderstanding’, yet reiterated that Sri Lanka is “a multi-religious, multi-ethnic society” and that “in addition to respecting their constitutional obligations, as well as the policies and principles of the government, all Sri Lankans have a long standing tradition of being respectful of each other”.

What is the fall-out?

The photographs, audio and video recordings of the violence in Dambulla have gone global. They cannot be erased. Incensed by this incident and those who led it, there are now growing threats of violence by sections of the Muslim community, though there are many voices, including the Muslim Council, who are calling for calm, and a more reasoned approach to the transformation of this conflict, noting that the actions of a few are not indicative of the nature of the majority.

There is a real danger that unaddressed or if simply glossed over, this militant religious extremism can very quickly and very seriously undermine Sri Lanka’s post-war reconciliation, and contribute to new, more geographically dispersed violent conflict. Extremists from both the Sinhala-Buddhist community and the Muslim community can also use this incendiary incident in Dambulla to stoke up communal tensions, leading to heightened fear and anxiety.

What can we do?

The shameful behaviour and expression employed by the Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter, along with the monks he led and the crowd of thugs is not remotely associated with or reflective of the philosophy of the Dhamma, the teachings of the Buddha, or the way in which a Buddhist monk is supposed to behave and speak. Many online have already expressed their dismay and deep concern over the actions of a few, placing Sri Lanka in the media spotlight again for all the wrong reasons.

We have a choice, but time is running out. Speak up. Put your name in a comment below, in English, Sinhala or Tamil. Say that last week’s violence was not in your name. Renounce a fringe lunacy and resist extremism. By putting your name below, oppose mob violence and bigotry as ways to resolve disputes.

If we have to fight, let’s fight to keep Sri Lanka free of extremists who threaten not only what they seek to destroy, but also who and what they claim to represent. Add your name below, and please pass the message on.

What will be done? 

After a month, the names and comments of those who signed up will be printed out and sent to the Presidential Secretariat, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Religious Affairs & Moral Upliftment, along with the Department of Buddhist Affairs, Department of Christian Religious Affairs, Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs.

Click here to sign 

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21 Responses to Not In Our Name: Against Religious Extremism In Sri Lanka

  1. 0
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    Certainly not in my name! This is a disgrace to all Sri Lankans alike. The act is similar to any ethno-religious social misjudgment anywhere in the world. Very unlike Buddhism, more like fascism.

    Ranil Abeysekera
    April 26, 2012 at 4:42 pm
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    this not the first time members of the shanga engeged in violent act’s they did in 1958,1977.1983 and even they killed countries prime minister and they are people blocking the polictical solution to the tamil’s rights

    k.kailainathan
    April 26, 2012 at 4:44 pm
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    Dear Sir, I am a catholic, but I do respect other religions, as far as I know buddhism what Lord Buddha has taught and spread is to show ” tolerance, patience, kindness, to humanity to attain nibbana. If the preachers who preach these teachings of Lord Buddha acts and behaves without any of these they cannot be called or considered those who protect the Budda sasanaya. They are also like other laymen and we can call them thugs too. If the mosque was there for years how come he realized it now? please do not drag this country to another war zone – even though we cry out and tell the world that we, sinhalese are not radical people it shows vehemantly that we are doing it not only to tamils, for other people as well. So as the leader of the country we beg you to take a decision which will not hurt or anger any citizen

    Sudharshani
    April 26, 2012 at 4:57 pm
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    Yes ofcourse we all Renounce violence in any form against anyone.. Well done.. But now can this petitioner who uses BBC, Ground Views for their information Also petition the BBC, CNN, Groundviews and other NGOs espically the western ones to stope the oceans of blood in Nato led muslim countries, burning of Islamic holy books, the fire bombing of Islamic centers in USA and europe by the Racist White Far right.. Write to CNN about the protest and which led to the burning of the islamic holy book at the NEW YORK world Trade center site.. THESE people in THE USA who CAME OUT SHOUTING and attackiing ALLL islamic symbols just because the US MUSLIM CITIZENS wanted to open a all relegious community center in NEW YORK near the WORLD TRADE CENTER.. which even the BBC, CNN media demonised the MUSLIMS.. Pls also petition these nations and espically their MEDIA now trying to pick and choose ethnic violence… ALL FROMS OF VIOLENCE ON ANY RACE AND RELEGION IS UNACCEPTABLE ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD.. NOT JUST SRI LANKA.

    sjv chelvanayakam
    April 26, 2012 at 6:43 pm
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    Who is behind these disgraceful attacks on Christian churches and Muslim mosques? They look as if they are orchestrated to me. And why does the Sangha permit its monks to indulge in such violence? Why does the President not condemn them? It seems that, in Sri Lanka, Buddhism is used as a weapon of racism and nationalism. Shame, shame! In the name of my Sinhala ancestors I denounce these attacks. They are not only an attack on other religions; they are an attack on the Dhammapada itself.

    Rory Winter
    April 26, 2012 at 7:00 pm
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    Why this so called sjv masquerade ring under some other’s name the behaviour of the Buddhist monks at Dambulla is a slur on the religion they are supposed to be practicing

    s .j. chelvanayagam
    April 26, 2012 at 7:43 pm
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  7. 0
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    Under-age conscription; effective brain washing. Halmark of SL mud Buddism.

    Asia
    April 27, 2012 at 12:01 am
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    I am an ordinary Muslim and two of my best friends are Sinhalese. I have noted some excellent qualities in them and while I respect their faiths they too respect mine. I have also seen some half educated Sinhalese hate other communities calling them ‘Demala’ or ‘Thambiya.’ Religious leaders and politicians must force the government to make such racial remarks illegal and punishable offence. Merely speaking in different languages at different meetings to appease the audience will not help, implementation of unity-building measures is the need of the hour.

    TB Kamiss
    April 27, 2012 at 1:26 am
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    The post independent Srilanka has had serious issues in adjusting to the reality of a pluralistic society.The claims by the vociferous extremists for a pre -1505 era is archaic to say the least.Fueled and encouraged by the narrow minded self seeking power hungry politicians,this has now grown to a fully blown cancer.The victims so far being the Burgher community,Tamil-Hindu community,The Christian Community.When over 250 Christian Churches/centers/workers were attacked in the wave of violence at the demise of a venerable Monk; the powers that be ,brought more rules and regulations with the tacit approval of “The Judases within their own fold”to further suppress the rights of the religious minority.Sri lanka being unique in having legislation drafted into the constitution to protect a majority community at the detriment of minority communities,has now touched the last major minority group which is no surprise to the discerning.The root of the cancer has to be treated even at this late stage before it destroys Sri Lanka completely.

    Rev Rohan De.S Ekanayake
    April 27, 2012 at 4:17 am
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    suz always think of basic human needful like oxygen,water and food.now i feel many of religious extremist comment here and living in fools paradise except suz.i do have a system to clear your dirty thoughts if ct allowed me to meet the patients.

    suz
    April 27, 2012 at 5:34 am
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    Secular government is the only way to run a country. The minute we introduce intangibles such as religion and faith into the mix, we create obstacles to reasonableness and logic. Separate The Sangha from The State.

    Gerard Thurai
    April 27, 2012 at 6:15 am
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    If Sri Lanka is to go forward as one nation, all people should be treated as people, irrespective of the faith they practice. Where is the democracy in the Democratic Socialist Republic? The government is supposed to be appointed by the people, for the people. But it appears otherwise, unless the President and members of Parliament stand up boldly for all people, irrespective of race, cast or creed. We have suffered for so many years under a war because of the petty mindedness of the politians at that time. Do we want history to repeat itself? Have we already forgotten the terrible times we went through all these years because of this? Why is the President and Ministers silent? Do they agree with what has happened or not, if they have a back bone, let them stand up boldly and stop this unless they want to drag the country through another period of turmoil. Let us hear from them, and see what decisions they will take to stop this. We do not want this country to suffer any more because of the mistakes of a few. So let the authorities take some bold decisions now. Tomorrow will be too late. The other nations of the world are watching us. The big question is “Are we serious about Reconcillation or are we not??? Do we want a united Sri Lanka or a fragmented one? Let not this country pay the price for the reclessness and selfishness of a few whose only ambition is to destroy this nation. Let us stand as one nation, one people.

    Aloy Gomez
    April 27, 2012 at 9:20 am
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    I don’t respect any religion. All the religions should be banned. Remember God is noting but a man made excuse to explain the complex things yet we cant understand. And it devide people. Religion is a business. It’s based on myths. It has cause crusades. And today we see Dabulla, Future we see more. Religion is a decease born with fear. Lack of knowledge. We don’t want to brainwash our next generation with this stupidity. Not any more. When we know the truth why we still blindly follow the myth?

    Bodinayaka
    April 28, 2012 at 4:17 am
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      Bodhinayake How can you say there is no God? He even mentions about you. Did you not not know that even you are mentioned in the Bible? “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God.” (Psalm 53:1)

      Toront
      April 28, 2012 at 10:41 am
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        Bible is written by men. Men who are just like you and me. Do you know that according to Bible we should kill if someone work on a Sabbath day? Sabbath day for you is Sunday and for Muslims it’s on Friday and for the Jews it’s Saturday. Bible is a copy cat from The Jew Torahs and Quran too . Your King James version is the second re write of The Torahs because of the “Kind God’s brutality and stupidity is not proper so King James made it up to control the mass. Please do not let me to teach you the Bible or other man written religious texts. It will hurt you. Hear is a list of fools http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fdVucvo-kDU

        Bodinayaka
        April 28, 2012 at 1:53 pm
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    All religion should be respected & rule of law should be updated without favoring any religion, for that this corrupt regime must Go.

    Jim Hardy
    April 28, 2012 at 7:51 am
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      All the people wearing religious cloths should be put in jail for two days. From Horoscope readers to Huniyam karayo should be jail for at least one week. All the religious places should be consider as ” Art centers” and if anybody want to practice a religion they have to do it alone not even their children should see it. No loud religion chantings ” sound pollution” No brainwashing the kids. No “kona kepili”

      Bodinayaka
      April 28, 2012 at 2:08 pm
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    The Buddhists,just because buddhism is based on non-violence,Ahimsa must fold their hands and watch while the wolves and crocs tear them apart to pieces. Today the whole world is on fire because of the enmity between the Islamists and various denominations of the churches. They in their insatiable thirst to increase their head count,engege in god forsaken activity. We the buddhist and the Hindus who has no part in this religeous war have become the victims. worse now we cannot even protect what is ours without being labled as thugs and hooligans. In this instance it is not the buddhists who went to Makkha to construct a temleple. Dambulla is a historic buddhist sacred area. If,as the buddhist preist claims, this mosque(it is not a mosque but a tin hut praying area)is built within the sacred area one can see who cast the first stone! Why is it,if the muslims are for religious harmony and co-existance, always try to invade in to buddhist sacred areas.They have invaded Anuradhapura,Kandy,Balangoda,pothuwil,Dheegawapi,Kataragama and many other places and now Dambulla. Nobody objects to their right to practice their religeon or to their having places of worship,but do it in a way without conflict with others. It is true that the islamic countries helped Sri Lanka during the last Geneva saga,but muslims in Sri Lanka must refrain from thinking of taking advantage of that. I am against violence of every form any where in the world.But that does not mean we are free meals for wolves and crocs.

    NAK
    April 28, 2012 at 10:38 am
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      Buddhism is supposed to be based on nonviolence and a lot of other things SL ‘mud’ Buddhism (where rice-mud is superior to pot-mud) is far from that Discrimination is a fundamental basis, child conscription is the convention, both these are human-rights issues Monks killing monks, PMs and abusing children is a reality Where was nonviolence by our Buddists &Hindus in our ethnic war, where was Christian ‘turn the other cheek’ Personally I am afraid of religion, etc., they crave our allegiance The people responsible for spreading many of them have been war criminals; Rama, Aryans, Asoka, Justinian, Muslim, Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Marxist empires….. Buddhists have created a myth of ‘innocence’ Buddhist Mongols were extremely violent and created the 2nd largest empire, the Chinese civil wars of the past 300 years have killed more than the two world wars, the Chinese will tell you about Japanese atrocities, a party to WWII Burmese genocide, in Thailand one family member is monk, the other a prostitute, next lady-boy, Laos heroin heaven In SL Tamils not even anthem, Vedha no country, child labour, ordination & soldiers, suicide bombs, mutibarrels, areal bombardment & abductions Muslim countries have oil, that’s the problem, they also either have local dictators or puppet monarchs, narrow minded self-serving clerics showing Islam down the throat (I don’t want us to become sifmilar) Westerners are following a greed policy mixed with white-washed Christianity of a Palastinian Jew Then again we have dragged Indian Nepali Budha to the mud.

      Bodidarma Ravana
      April 29, 2012 at 2:46 am
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      If we were not lions, tigers, dogs & snakes we would still be in Sinhapura, Venga & Lala land, without a footing in this country to displace Shamanism, Hinduism, natives & language…. Also take into account that in neighbouring India MUSLIM CONVERSION CAME FROM BUDDISTS, the en masse conversions of lower castes for social liberation and as a rejection of oppressive existent Hindu caste structures. (Eaton, Richard M.’The Rise of Islam and the Bengal Frontier, 1204–1760]. Berkeley: University of California Press, c1993 1993) Also in all South East Asian islands (Only India has recorded some violent conflicts, then again Mongols did the same in Iran) (If not for the Sudha, SL too would very likely have become primarily Hindu and/or Muslim like India and all Sout East Asian Islands) Dambulla was also against a small Hindu shrine, why this? Budha, Ravana, Vijaya, Rajasinghe, etc.. born Hindu … About time you practice the Buddist ‘maitriya’, Hindu ‘ahimsa’ or the Christian ‘forgiveness’ !!

      the Don
      May 3, 2012 at 4:13 am
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    Why don’t these Clergies use their energies and influence to stop the ever increasing drug trafficking, prostitution, rapes, murders and illegal abductions? By damaging a place of worship, do they expect religious people to live like rapists, murderers, drug addicts and so on? Then, when are we going to see a peaceful Sri-Lanka? Certainly they are against the peace we want to see!

    Hussain
    April 28, 2012 at 11:11 am
    Reply

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