By Latheef Farook –
Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne’s order to demolish a 65 year old mosque in Dambulla and instead build a mosque in another place strikes at the very root of religious freedom .It also shocked and hurt the island’s Muslim community. Responding to the order and expressing the community’s mood Muslim Congress Secretary and parliamentarian Hassen Ali said the “community will not accept a mosque in another place even if it was built of gold”.
Hassen Ali had stated that if the places of religious worship of the minorities are being attacked while the police and army are idly watching, it implies that they are supporting the marauders and providing security to them, instead of the law abiding people.
The claim by the Prime Minister Jayaratne that an order was given to demolish the mosque with the consent of Muslim politicians insults the prime minister’s office. This was described as “blatant manufactured lie” and vehemently rejected by Senior Minister A.H.M.Fawzie, Deputy Minister M.L.A.M Hizbulla, Western Province Governor Alavi Moulana and Parliamentarian Abdul Cader all of whom pointed out that they never attended such a meeting in Gampola.
Refuting the Prime Minister’s charges former deputy mayor of Colombo Azath Salley stated that “it is misleading to say that the mosque was in existence for two years as it has been there for more than 65 years. We have all the documents to prove that it is a legally constructed mosque under Waqf Act. Therefore the statement by the Prime Minister claiming that the unauthorized construction of the mosque has been stopped is totally false. The land on which the mosque was located was bought by a lady in Jaffna from Englishmen. From that time, this mosque has been in existence. Later the adjacent land too had been bought by the mosque authorities in 1995. The mosque has been in existence and there are no construction works underway now. This statement by the Prime Minister is misleading the Buddhists in the country. Prime Minister should not make such irresponsible statements as the Waqf Board comes under the Prime Minister and he is contradicting his own statement. Besides the statement by Ven Inamaluwa Sumangla Thera that he will ensure that Muslims will not have a place to urinate is not only irresponsible but very dangerous too”.
Though the UNP leader Ranil Wickremasinghe is yet to comment, UNP’s Deputy Leader Sajith Premadasa described prime minister’s order as” law of the jungle and nothing to do with the Buddhism”. Sajith asked “ how could we develop the country when the prime minister’s office issues such false statements”?
In any civilized society one would expect unruly elements who vandalize a mosque while worshippers were getting ready for Friday Juma prayer to be arrested and brought before justice. Instead they were rewarded in violation of all canons of human decency.
Muslims in the area suspect that Sinhalese in Dambulla were not involved in the hooliganism .Instead hired people, including monks, were brought from outside to vandalize the mosque What they failed to understand is that we are not living in the medieval era today as the world is watching us especially when the country is accused of war crimes against one minority community.
The irony is that this happened less than a month after most Muslim countries voted against the United States sponsored and Indian supported United Nations Human Rights Commissions resolution against Sri Lanka in Geneva and rescued the island’s dignity.
In fact the day the mosque was vandalized the government started bilateral discussions with Israel, known international pariah, sworn enemy of Muslims and the architect of the US sponsored global campaign against Muslims under the guise of fighting a war on terror.
Demolition of the mosque means the end of Muslim support to the government. Western Province governor Alavi Moulana has already gone to the extent of hinting that“he would strongly consider vacating his position if the government goes ahead with the plan to demolish the mosque”.
The manner in which the politicians and so called muftis who started hob knobbing in politics were insulted and intimated at the meeting held in Colombo to discuss the Dambulla Mosque is a clear indication of the mood among the people.
To Muslims all over the world Mosque is Allah’s House. It is everything to them. They turn to mosque for their prayers. Moreover Muslims posed no problem or threat to anyone in Dambulla or anywhere else. They never interfered with the religious affairs of other communities. Under such circumstance what is the need to raise this issue. The question is do we need to precipitate such an unwanted crisis now?
As pointed out by former Chief Justice Sarath N .Silva Muslims in the island have been the most peaceful community”.
Muslims never failed to rise up to the occasion to support and protect the country.
For example when two-third majority was needed to obtain independence in 1948 the Muslim community wholeheartedly supported the bill which was detrimental to their own interest. It is time all involved in mosque demolition read late Prime Minister S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike’s passionate and emotional response and assurance to Muslims which were conveniently forgotten later.
Ultra nationalists who claim and behave as if King Vijaya and Kuveni had given them the title deed of sole ownership to the island and now hand in glove with the Israelis have forgotten the historic role played by Muslims in preserving the territorial integrity of the country. For example from the very beginning Muslims opposed tooth and nail the LTTE claim for a separate state. Had they joined hands with the LTTE then the country would have been divided decades ago as the island’s armed forces were not equipped then, as it is today, to meet the challenges posed by the LTTE backed then openly by India.
Muslims paid a heavy price for this. They were slaughtered in village after village and even while praying in mosques. Their paddy lands acquired, businesses closed and their very means of survival deprived. The entire Jaffna Muslims population was kicked out within two hours and their belongings and property were looted.
In return Muslims expected some relief after the military defeat of LTTE. Instead they have been simply dismissed and sidelined. Though they remain deeply frustrated, yet they only expected some peaceful solutions to their problems .It was in this atmosphere comes the move to destroy Dambulla moque.
The country has ended up in Geneva due to its failure to deal with one community- Tamils. Is this the time to provoke Muslims without any rhyme or reason especially, when Zionist Jews, Evangelical Christians together with RSS Hindu extremists have unleashed a global campaign killing Muslims and destroying Muslim countries? Under such circumstance who can predict the consequences of short sighted move to demolish the Dambulla mosque?
In the aftermath of the LTTE defeat all in the country-Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and others- looked forward to a period of peace and harmony. However move to demolish Dambulla mosque shows that reconciliation, peace, harmony and progress are nothing but distant dreams.