By Latheef Farook –
More than a thousand year old Muslim community in the island was destroyed within 20 minutes due to Maithri-Ranil government’s failure to prevent the Eastern Sunday carnage. 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 its wake the government and racist elements unleashed a well-orchestrated fierce campaign aimed at destroying the very foundation of the Muslim community exploiting the fact that the bombers happen to be Muslims and belonging to National Thowheed Jamath-NTJ.
What was ignored was, according to reports, 26 NTJ members were paid by the army intelligence under previous regime and perhaps groomed to use as scape goats by foreign forces which, many suspect, were responsible for the Easter Sunday massacre
The attacks has all the hallmarks of CIA and Mossad conspiracy and President Sirisena and Prime Minister Wickremesinghe need to answer for their failure to prevent it.
Time and again Cardinal Malcom Ranjith announced that Muslim community has nothing to do with this carnage emphasizing that misguided local youths were used by foreign forces to commit this crime. Local media refused to raise the issue of foreign forces involvement up to date to hoodwink the masses with lies and deception
President Sirisena imposed emergency laws and declared a campaign which ended up as demonization of Islam and persecution of Muslims as every Muslim was projected a terror suspect.
The government promptly 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. It was a systematic campaign against the beleaguered Muslim community.
Dismissing the religious sentiments of Muslims, troops entered mosques and many other places with boots accompanied by sniper dogs during the Holy Month of Ramadhan fast.
The mainstream media influenced by powerful foreign anti-Muslim forces, unleashed a well-orchestrated vicious anti-Muslim campaign provoking non-Muslims against Muslims.
Government swiftly imposed ban on Muslim wearing face cover, burqa and niqab. This was exploited by many to harass even Muslim women wearing traditional clothes. These harassments failed to draw the attention of President Sirisena who could have issued an order to stop such atrocities.
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. This is usually done in countries ruled by ruthless dictatorships.
These are issues that the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema, ACJU, should have attended to long before the government interfered. However the disastrous failure of controversial ACJU which, remains a one man show, brought the government interference and humiliation.
Racist mercenaries began a campaign asking non-Muslim not to buy from Muslim owned shops. In Padiyathalawa a Buddhist monk rushed into a Muslim owned shop and forced out Sinhalese shoppers and warned the Muslim owners that they should close the shop and leave.
Added to this, as part of the anti-Muslim campaign and demonstrating their ignorance, major cable TV operators, Dialog and SLT, removed well known Islamic scholar and preacher Zakir Naik’s ‘Peace TV’ from their channel list. Zakir Naik, a great Islamic scholar on comparative religions, has only preached Islam and did not commit genocide of innocent people like what political leaders did.
Under such circumstance why Dialog and SLT ban his programs? Isn’t this simply spreading Islamophobia? Muslims should reconsider patronizing these racist TV channels.
In this frightening atmosphere there emerged rumors of yet another violent attack on Muslims on Monday 13 May. There were sporadic incidents on Sunday May 12 at Negombo which spread to Chilaw and other places before spreading to North western province.
There were organized attacks on Muslim in Kurunegala, Hettipola and numerous other places. The government was aware of these attacks on Muslims in North western provinces, but did nothing to prevent. Yet the shameless Muslim parliamentarians who sold their souls for perks and positions and abandoned the community continue to remain with the government
Under such frightening atmosphere, instead of deploying troops and save the lives and property of Muslims, President left to China to attend a conference leaving Muslims at the mercy of organized murderous thugs supported by a racist political party. In fact it was not such an important conference in China which could have been attended by a minister. President Sirisena was the only head of state attended the conference.
As he left the country attacks began on Monday 13 May. 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.
Forty nine year old furniture shop owner Fouzul Ameen came home around 4 pm to end his fast at 6.20 PM when a mob began smashing windows, while the family stayed huddled inside. Amin came out to persuade the thugs who were smashing his vehicle to stop. A group of five men slashed his neck with a sword before pouring turpentine on his face. He died. Imagine the plight of his family whose eldest son is only 15. What crime they did to deserve this punishment?
This was the plight of Muslims in almost around 30 villages which were virtually burnt down .Multi million rupee businessmen were made paupers overnight, thanks to President Sirisena’s refusal to prevent these senseless attacks.
When 95 percent of the Muslims voted and made Sirisena the President they only expected peace.However their hopes were dashed as Maithri-Ranil government continued Mahinda –Gota style violence on them.
On return to the island from China there was no word from President Sirisena on these attacks leave alone visiting places such as Minuwangoda –a lively business city burnt to the ground?
Instead adding insult to injury President Sirisena visited lawless mob leader Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera, a man of violence known for his atrocities towards Muslims during Rajapaksa regime, at his prison cell. Later he was released under presidential pardon and was entertained with Thera’s mother.
The Bar Association of Sri Lanka (BASL) said President Sirisena should not have exercised his executive powers arbitrarily when pardoning Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thera, who was jailed after being found guilty of contempt of court charges.It said it was an act based on irrelevant consideration.
In a statement, the BASL said it was deeply concerned by the recent act of granting a presidential pardon to a monk who was serving a sentence imposed by the Court of Appeal for Contempt of Court committed in the presence of the Homagama Magistrate.
However within 48 hours Gnanasara Thera began his vicious anti-Muslim campaign once again.
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.
The author further recalls being outside Majestic City where visitors were asked to write their names and addresses before going through the frisking process. Though it all looked indiscriminate, the very purpose of the process implied the presence of deteriorating communal relationship and increasing inequalities. Amidst the recent wave of violence, one begins to realize the cynicism for which Sri Lanka now finds itself: once capable of defeating one of the most ruthless terrorist organizations in the world, now struggling to coherently explain why it failed in protecting its citizens, not only by not acting on the intelligence received prior to the Easter Sunday attacks, but also when innocent Muslims face persecution by organized mob violence, emboldened enough to play judge jury and executioner.