1 October, 2020

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Pilgrim’s Regress: On The ‘Usefulness’ Of Racism In Sri Lanka

By Anupama Ranawana

Anupama Ranawana

Purely for the sake of amusement, I encourage you to follow the Twitter account of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS).  Claiming to be the revival of ‘real Buddhism’, the BBS will ask you to ‘rise up’ against the issuing of Halal Certificates, and inform you that they are enlightening Buddhists of the threats from the ‘dark forces’ of the minority. And just when you think you have them pegged as insufferably extremist, they will retweet a quote from the Dalai Lama espousing the need to have tolerance and love for all beings.  It’s a masterclass in farce, and one wishes they were so easily dismissible.  It is when their rhetoric becomes racist that you will perhaps need to block the BBS. Case in point- just a couple of days ago they responded to a Tweeter by calling him a ‘thambiya’- a terribly crude way of referring to a Muslim person.  Whether Muslim or not, it was difficult not to be appalled.

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    Yes they are becoming a communal threat.

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    Thanks and Salute to you from a helpless person of the Minority. It is people like you from the Majority who have to tell the world the truth.

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      Do

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    Anupama’s article must be published in Sinhalese. Majority language.

    It is there “Balu Sena” find their loyal and blind followers.

    Struggle against ethno-religious bigotory in Sri Lanka must be taken to the Lion’s den.

    I salute Anupama Ranawana for true patritosm. Real patriots of Sri Lanka are not bigots.

    Together we can take on “Balu Sena”. And defeat them ideologically in a non-violent, democratic way.

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    Thank you, we need friends like you to give assurance and courage to those peace loving silent majority that they are not alone, who also feel their religion is being hijacked by a bunch of bigots in safron robes, who dont want to understand the truth of what they espouse, nor believe in what has already been said about this whole episode (Muslim viewpoint). They seem to not stop at anything but to shred the moral fabric of peaceful co-existence, peace and harmony for minority religion citizens living in this country, whilst projecting themselves as a no-nonsense power brokers for any governmentto to come, or be in power. It is only the moderate Sinhalese Buddhists themselves who could rise and speak against this hijack and put BBS in its place. The affected minority parties can never do it.

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    Yes I agree Sinhala Buddhist fundamentalism is a growing problem in Sri Lanka. So are Tamil linguistic fundamentalism, Christian fundamentalism and Muslim fundamentalism. The rise of fundamentalism seems to be a common experience of many countries affected by rapid globalisation triggering the disintegration of traditional cultures and identities. My humble opinion is what is needed is a sober, objective analysis and understanding of the phenomenon so that the underlying issues can be addressed. But a partisan approach and finger pointing particular social groups is very easy and trendy, and itself a manifestation of such fundamentalism rather than a step towards remedy. Sorry, if I am not politically correct.

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      What is fundamentalism in the first place? You have used this word haphazardly, thus missed your mark. There is no such thing as Muslim Fundamentalists. They are only people who follow the fundamentals of their religion. Is that wrong? It is the western media in their frenzy that coined this phrase and called extremist terrorists as fundamentalists. A wrong word to connote practicing Muslims. It is useless being Muslim only by name. Every Muslim is supposed to be a good practicing Muslim, and does that make him a fundamentalist? Yes of course, but not in the same sense that you identify with.

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        If you are not a fundamentalist in my sense of the term then why are you putting on the hat?

        But the problem is not that easy. It’s more complex. You say “fundamentalists are the only people who follow the fundamentals of their religion.” The problem is, this is exactly what all fundamentalists (whether they are Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim or any other religion/sect) say to justify their demented behaviour. They are demented because they follow the letter of their “fundamentals” and not their spirit. This literal interpretation of what are essentially teachings couched in symbols/myths is what has led to the current “fundamentalism crisis” everywhere. The tragicomedy is these diehard enemies are all united in discarding the kernel and running after the husk. Because the understanding of intelligent, rational people everywhere is that the kernel is the exact same identical truth in all religious teachings. (Please note I say “religious teachings,” and not religion. I am not talking about religion which is a form of social organization and control and has nothing to do with the great teachings – kernel – and is fixated only with splitting hairs over the husk.)

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          There is a big difference when you have to follow religiuous teachings to the letter, and follow in spirit. There is no such thing as follow in spirit where Islam is concerned, since spirit could be interpreted in so many ways by so many adherents. We Muslims have been shown the way, and are expected to follow it to the letter. (at least we try to)

          When you say ‘If you are not a fundamentalist in my sense of the term then why are you putting on the hat?’. Because you classed all religious adherents together as being similar in fervour, and I declined to agree with you, on the basis that Muslims are different, and not what the West portray them to be – fundamentalists as in extremists.

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            I fully agree with your statement in your first reply: “It is the western media in their frenzy that coined this phrase and called extremist terrorists as fundamentalists.” and when you say in your second reply: “Muslims are different, and not what the West portray them to be – fundamentalists as in extremists.”

            That is why I put in the disclaimer in my original comment itself: “…a partisan approach and finger pointing particular social groups is very easy and trendy, and itself a manifestation of such fundamentalism rather than a step towards remedy.” But you failed, or refuse, to see I was talking about “religious fundamentalism” per se and not about “Islamic Fundamentalism” as such. You persist in this even after I reiterated in my second message that my definition of fundamentalism is not terrorism but the strict orthodox literal following of texts IN ANY RELIGION (I can’t help if the latter usually leads to the former IN EVERY RELIGION). But in sad irony you go on to treat religious fundamentalism as an exclusive preserve of Islam and thereby giving credence to the biased western view. I think you are trying to make the illogical argument that there is fundamentalism in every religion except in Islam and naturally it backfires and betrays your own bias.

            Further you admit you are indeed a RELIGIOUS fundamentalist in my sense of the term when you say: “We Muslims have been shown the way, and are expected to follow it to the letter.” In my humble opinion no human being should be in this sad predicament in the 21st Century. But you and your co-religionists are NOT THE ONLY ONES in this predicament. My heart goes out to all the people who endure unspeakable injustice and suffering due to the accident of their birth in a particular country, culture, religion, ethnicity, language, caste, class, gender or sexual orientation. (Jeez, Am I politically correct or what?)

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              I dont represent other religions, so I cannot defend their stand on what you claim to be their fundamentalist tendencies. I can only write about the stand of Islam and its adherents. Lets first understand what Fundamentalism is. It is the demand for a strict adherence to specific theological doctrines, primarily to promote continuity and accuracy. The term usually has a religious connotation indicating unwavering attachment to a set of complex beliefs. The word “Fundamentalism” is sometimes used as a derogatory term, particularly when combined with other labels (as in the phrase “right-wing fundamentalists”). I hope you can now appreciate that Islam does follow fundamental laws to maintain continuity and preserve its purity, but not in a derogatory sense which connotes harm and dire onsequences.

              In practice you witness it everyday in Five times a day Call for Prayer, congregation of males at Friday prayers, fasting of entire families during month of Ramazan, the performance of Hadj by throngs of pilgrims from all over the world converging on Holy lands Mecca and Medina. These are all done willingly, voluntarily and in accordance with collective laws laid down with the objective of continuity and maintaining purity. It is definitely not forced down the throats of adherents at the point of a sword, which is also a fundamentalist trait (as espuused by Non-Muslims including the Western Media).

              Whereas this form of popular embrace is not found in any othyer religion. Their policy is if you want you can do it, if not the choice is yours. Churches and temples are dwindling in attendance. Not that I care too much or express concern, but I can understand what they feel when they witness these mass gatherings.

              There is no such thing as unbearable injustice for those born with no choice on language, culture, ethinicity, bla, bla, bla.. since that choice was not theirs to make in the first place. That choice was God’s will. (what non Muslims call Destiny). Perhaps your heart goes out to all animals slaughtered for food, but you enjoy eating the meat delicacies on your plate. This is the kind of sheer duplicity of those who think they are smart, superior and more classy than simple folk who love their religion and willing to pay a price to main its purity.

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        True Muslim, please explain to me why then true Muslims kill each other for the sake of religion.Look at Pakistan Shites fear sunnis.Killed in hundreds.In Iraq Jordan,Bahrain Muslim community accuse sunnis and shites each other for getting favored treatment.In Srilanka too there were clashes between Muslims against a clan called wahabi.I believe religious tolerance is lacking in Muslim countries.When I was serving in a Srilankan mission in a middle eastern country I my self experienced this by seen how a middle east employer of the srilankan domestic worker tore the picture of Buddha she carried with her.

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          Sects formed and are divided along the lines of Nationalism and Political ideologies and as a result the killing against each other is predominantly for wealth and power. There is a sinister dark force that feeds and funds them as they are right now funding and feeding the undesirable elements of Sri Lanka groups. The Muslims took their bait and will the Buddhists bite it as well.

          And lo! this your religion is one religion and I am your Lord, so keep your duty unto Me. (The Noble Quran 22:52) But they (mankind) have broken their religion among them into sects, each sect rejoicing in its tenets. (The Noble Quran 22:53) So leave them in their error till a time. (The Noble Quran 22:54)

          Would you care to respond if Buddhist scriptures permit the worship of idols? If so as a former diplomat you will be aware that the Sri Lankan foreign ministry could use their diplomatic means to get this approved. The western NGO’s got it for Alcohol and Swine flesh exclusively for non-Muslims.

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          The shiite Sunni clash is a long story, and if I were to tell it, being a Sunni Muslim, it will be my way of interpreting it, whilst a Shiite might have opposing views. It is all over the internet and I dont think it warrants an explanation in this space. I can tell you this, sometimes you have to fight for your rights, when you realize that it is being usurped. Or else you get the opposition walking all over you. Religious tolerance amongst same kind is extremely low, as if not, deviations, innovations and other cultural influences creep in, thus diluting the original teachings. People are not afraid to oppose if that is what it takes to put it right.

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    Unfortunately, there is plenty of evidence indicating support from the members of the government for extremist movements. Together with inability of the police to act independently, lack of independent judiciary, lack of media freedom are self destructive for very existence of a government.

    Their stupidities lead to the international intervention. Leadership is responsible for leading nation to this state of affairs, now the process is irreversible, it is the end of the regime. No country in the world is capable of saving leadership if a procedural resolution is adopted. Unwise political leadership, they themselves have to be blamed at the end.

    Nothing in the world is capable of reversing irreversible damage done by politicians. India has confirmed their stand on this issue. Procedural resolution cannot be blocked, veto is impossible.

    What on earth is capable of stopping the self destructive process continued by Sri Lankan politicians? The end is very close.

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      You sound like a dystopian harbinger! An alarmist. Like Farrakhan yelling his head off that Armageddon is here!

      And you should have screamed the following too:
      India has lost all its moral authority.
      India actively trained, funded and equipped the demon LTTE.
      And so-called secular India is a joke now that the Hindutva is on the rise. What is it with the fanatical Sangh Parivar, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, RSS, Shiv Sena, etc., etc.?

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        Actually, who is going to save Sri Lankan leadership from this crisis? No country in the world can do anything about the current political crisis.

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    THAMBIYA FOR A MUSLIM.

    KARAPOTHTHA FOR A BURGHER.

    SAKKILIYA FOR A TAMIL.

    KALLATHONI FOR THE DESCENDENTS OF KING VIJAYA.

    WONDER WHAT THEY CALL THE VADDHAS, RODIYAS?

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      Oh Danny boy

      Veddahs Sons of Soil

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      Danny Boy,
      You got it wrong!Kallathoni for Tamil nadu Indian illegal immigrants.

      Paki for all indian subcontinent people.Kaffir /Nigger for a black man.
      Kooli for Indians.Slitty eyes for chinese.Pale face /whitetrash for whites and so on.
      I do not know any name for Vaddhas.

      By the way these are examples of racist calling.So pathetic!

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      Ethnic slurs have been used as insinuations or allegations about members of a given ethnicity or to refer to them in a derogatory (critical or disrespectful), pejorative (disapproving or contemptuous), or insulting manner in the English-speaking world. An ethnic slur is a term designed insult others on the basis of race, ethnicity, or nationality.

      Ethnic slurs may also be produced by combining a general-purpose insult with the name of ethnicity, such as “dirty Jew”, “Russian pig”, etc. Other common insulting modifiers include “dog”, “filthy”, etc., sometimes for a whole nation as in “Banana Republic”.

      In the case of Muslims of Sri Lanka, the slurs used are “Thambiya” (younger bro), “Nana” (Elder bro), “Marakalaya” – Ma raka le (Blood which safeguarded me, or my guardians), “Hambaya” – (No idea of origin – antone knows?). Anything else? Anyway, my point is that although these words sound gross the way it is expressed by those in the vernacular, they mean well although they are not aware of it. So it is best to just laugh it off and scoff at their ignorance.

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        Hambaya

        This I believe is a corruption and originates from the word Sampan Karaya ( Boat) people from Malaya. Sampan thota is the present Hambantota . Hambaya is now used disparagingly to describe “Geri Mas Eaters” or for killing cattle for meat

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          Jazakalla Nabil. I enjoy reading your rebuttals.

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        Thambi= Malli(younger brother),Marakkala=Marak kalam
        (wooden boat),Hambaya=Greedy money maker and Thunkala
        (3/4,what’s left after circumcision).What’s funny is,
        these are literally not derogatory.It’s only the way
        the words are expressed that carries the weight.
        Except 3/4,they know nothing of the rest they are
        talking about,just like Buddhism is taken.Even 3/4
        case is not true and for this I recommend they talk
        to their sisters for the whole truth.

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    Dear Anupama

    Please spread the following among all schools and teachers:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/127226195/Sri-Lanka-Justice-Weeramantry-to-Lessons-Learnt-and-Reconciliation-Commission
    Justice Weeramantry speaks of urgently needed materials for resolving the conflict and building peace

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      All offices, all armed forces and the public too

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        All university departments, Education offices, Teacher Training Colleges too

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    Foreigners are conspiring to take over Sri Lanka, proselytizers are being targeted, minorities are being harassed! Must be election time in Sri Lanka!

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    Racism is one of the last “trump cards” left in the Rajapaksa arsenal. When you appoint thugs to run your Country you must expect them to revert to type when they get into trouble.

    Trouble is definitely on the horizon on the Economic front even if you can dismiss the international human rights front.

    When the state banks crash and the rupee becomes totally worthless, when NRFC and RFC accounts are frozen to utilize the last of the hard currency in the Country for food imports, when the economy crashes due to lack of foregin remmitances (this will take longer than usual because most remmitances are to feed families in Lanka)racism will be the rallying call for the rajapaksa supporters.

    It will be open season on all Muslim and Tamil businesses and the Sinhala Christians will be last.

    Stamp this menace out before it grows !

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      A scary scenario. Can this truly ever come to pass? I think it would be better for minorities to jump ship now rather than later. This country is bound to become the debacle of Asia. What a miserable future for this country. I too feel this government and its religious zealots are on the road to pulling it off, unless a miracle happens.

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    These BBS are just over fed, over sized, intoxicated bunch of pi…s. I can assure anybody that they are NOT VEGETARIANS….BUT POKE EATING KASIPPU DRINKING PI…S.

    I have a vast knowledge of how vegetarians look and their behaviour. Vegetarians are calm and much slim and lean people who are generally peaceful, friendly and harmless people.They don’t have excess strength to create riots. Not like these oversized, thug looking, meat eating arack drinking morons.

    Also their Theravada buddhist sect is followed by Clergy who are from under developped countries in south east Asia such as Bangladesh, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand etc…..compared to advanced Mahayana Buddhism followers who are Japanese Korea, China and Western world.

    These are the Buddhist Racists which Rajapakses keep as their third force to instigate violance among communities in the country in order to maintain their political dominance in the country.

    Very soon these buffalo soldiers will see their Nirvana.

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    I am a supporter of Bodu Bala Sena and I can very proudly say that the government and specially the defense secretary are with us. We will not demand anything without the government blessings. Our main problem right now is the Muslims. If you see the population growth in Sri Lanka from 1981 to 2012, the Sinhalese have a growth of 38.2% and the Tamils have a growth of 20.3% where as the Muslims have a growth of 78.6%. The Tamils were only asking for a piece of land by waging a war but the Muslims will take over the whole country very peacefully if we allow them to grow at this rate.

    Whether you like it or not, Sri Lanka is blessed by Buddha (Buddhist country) and it is none other than Buddha himself has chosen the Sinhalese as the sustainers of Buddhism. Sinhala-Buddhists should always be the majority in Sri Lanka only a Sinhala-Buddhist should rule Sri Lanka (President). In this regard, the government agreed to ban family planning methods that control birth. We will be starting a programme to educate the Sinhala-Buddhists to produce as many children as they can. We are working on introducing new laws to legalize Polygamy so that there will be no legal restrictions in Sinhala-Buddhist men and women taking multiple partners with the objective of producing more and more children. Our Sinhala-Buddhist clergy took entered into politics in order to protect Buddha’s blessed Country and the Sinhalese people whom he chose to protect his doctrine (Dhamma).

    The Buddhist clergy in the East is well known for martial arts. They learned it for self defense. As long as the present defence secretary is with us we have no fear but to defend ourselves in Sri Lanka in the future, we may have to form a Bodu Bala Sena regiment/saffron brigade, a separate army to protect the Sinhala-Buddhists.

    All the ancient archeological artifacts found in Sri Lanka are only Buddhist and Hindu. Muslims and Christians are aliens to Sri Lanka. The colonial invaders forced the Buddhists and Hindus and converted them to Christianity. Similarly, the Arab traders who came to Sri Lanka married Buddhist and Hindu women and converted them to Muslims and even today they are doing the same. There are several cases of Sinhala-Buddhist women marrying Muslim men; they are forcefully converted to Muslims.

    Halaal and other issues are not very major compared to the above but we have to nip it in the bud before it becomes a custom. We should never allow the Muslims and Christians to control anything in Sri Lanka. The law and the legislature should always be under the control of the Sinhala-Buddhists. Sri Lanka is a gift from Buddha to the Sinhalese. The Sinhala-Buddhists are very peaceful and compassionate towards others and that is the reason why we allowed others to live in our country. We know what the Muslims have done to countries that were Buddhist once upon a time (Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and so on). We do not want that to happen in our land. We are very grateful to the present government for giving us full support and strength to carry out our programmes very smoothly.

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      Machchi,you don’t sound Bodu Bala machchi.I smell some
      keerawadei!

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    For you BBS followers, you see nothing, hear nothing but your leaders war drums to squash the minorities. For you, this is your paradise and you can have it. No one came to live for ever. But remember there is One above, the All Knowing, Omnipotent, Who will catch you when you least expect it, and then you will regret your hate and persecution of Muslims. You will be hounded out with no place to hide. You may draw up your own plans for this country, but God will have better plans and we have been advised to be patient by our elders. We also can put up a fight if we have to, and suicide bombings is nothing new in our vocabulary. Witness Iraq and the Taliban forces, first against the might of Russia and now against the might of Americans, with most modern avionics warfare. They still cannot keep them down. Let us live in peace, we don’t want to take over this country. It belongs to all religions, not only to Buddhists. This is not Lord Buddha’s country. Even India could not maintain its Buddhist identity and was run over by Hindu. Go and claim your Buddhist country to be India, not Sri Lanka and see what reception you will get. Living in monasteries, deprived of worldly contacts, these BBS monks have lost all their marbles, and now looking to pick a fight and have found Muslims to be their ideal scapegoats. No one took any notice of them when they raised a ruckus at the Archeological Dept, Examination Dept, Law College, the Maha Nayakes and Diyawadane nilame on administration of Temple properties and now this. It won’t be long before they become too big for their shoes, and even the government will be at the receiving end, like SWRD.

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    BBS can you hear yourself speak??? Listen to what your saying? Buddhism isnt a religion of hate. Its a philosophy of peace of how you should loose all attachment and worldly gain by meditation, spreading LOVING KINDESS to ALL BEINGS IN ALL WORLDS. This madness should stop. Just because the government’s poor governance doesn’t mean you make it into an ethnic issue! REMEMBER THE 1983 RIOTS led to the creation of LTTE! For 30 years we have been suffering… and now you want to start this all over again?

    If you cannot give up your false ideology of buddhism then you should all give up your robes and become lay men! Such a disgrace!

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    IF! Water to be halal, it should not go through burnt pig bones. Oke…y, if so tell us how you breath pig exhaled air? To whom you are going to claim for, or issue halal certificates? To God? Just see people this is ultimately a hoax! Wake up!

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