By Latheef Farook –
Besieged Muslims made up their minds; Muslim politicians irrelevant in today’s political scenario
With campaign for the forthcoming presidential elections on January 08, 2015 under way in full swing, the island’s Muslims appear to have made up their minds. In doing so they dismissed Muslim political parties and politicians as corrupt, morally bankrupt and unfit to represent the Muslim community.
Muslims, by and large, have lost confidence in their politicians in view of their shameful records which brought disrepute to the community. They failed to defend the community especially during the past four years when saffron terror gangs, with state patronage, unleashed violence against them.
These attacks striking at the very root of their religious, economic, cultural life and very existence as a community, subjected Muslims to immense hardships and sufferings.
Reiterating this Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, SLMC, parliamentarian M.M.M.Haaris stated that the Muslim community has” already decided whom to vote for”. This is the general views expressed in almost every gathering from dinner parties to other functions.
More than quarter century ago the SLMC which came with the slogan of Islam, Sharia and Unity only to abandon all these noble principles and the interest of the community for the sake of positions and personal benefits. They only served themselves under the pretext of serving the community which was left in lurch to face the brunt.
The SLMC, outcome of late president J.R. Jayewardene’s racist and arrogant politics, Indian manipulations and opportunistic politics of SLMC founder M.H.M. Ashraff, has today ended up as Greek tragedy for the community as it also contributed to the isolation Muslims from the majority community.
From the very inception SLMC was a “one man show”. The leader who ruthlessly exploited Islam and Muslims’ religious sentiments to promote his selfish political agenda was a virtual dictator surrounded out by “Yes Men”.
Mr. Ashraff’s unexpected death in a helicopter crash triggered off the leadership crisis.
The struggle for leadership within the SLMC was cleverly exploited by the Sinhala leaderships of all shades of political opinions by selecting one group to promote against the other.
Initially the leadership struggle was between Rauf Hakeem and the late Ashraff’s wife Mrs Ferial Ashraff. For example former President Chandrika Kumaratunga picked up Mrs. Ferial to promote and inevitably driven a wedge within the SLMC.
This trend continued in the subsequent years. It was as part of this ongoing game Muslim Congress parliamentarian Rishard Bathiurdeen was used as a tool to wash SLMC leader Rauf Hakeem’s dirty linen and discredit him. Bathiudeen also established a separate party and further divided the already divided SLMC.
In return Badurdeen was rewarded with a ministerial portfolio and promoted. Last week he announced his decision to remain with the government and support President Mahinda Rajapaksa in the forthcoming presidential elections.
The overall response within the community was “indifference”. Many asked “what else one can expect from him. He is just another person who served himself, in keeping with SLMC tradition, in the name of the beleaguered Muslim community.
Justifying Minister Bathiudeen’s decision some said “after all who is this Bathiurdeen? He was made somebody by Rajapaksa brothers. Thus he had shown his loyalty by remaining with the government and support President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
Refuting this another person said “there is no other alternative for Minister Bathiudeen other than sticking to the government as his mouth remains sealed and legs tied.
In the same way the SLMC’s inability to decide on whether to remain with the government or cross over to the opposition will have no impact on the Muslim community as the party no more represents Muslims’ desires and aspirations. Time and again the SLMC betrayed the community on many burning issues. The list is endless.
The community has already discarded the SLMC as demonstrated in the recent Uva Provincial council elections when the SLMC polled only around 5000 of the more than 47,000 Muslim votes.
Muslims in general were fed up with the SLMC for clinging to a government which provided patronage to the saffron racist gangsters who have unleashed violence on them . These hooligans still roam around free despite their crime against the community. Shameful state of affairs is such today that these racist gangsters got the audacity to threaten Muslims of serious consequences if they fail to vote for President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
However Deputy Minister Faizer Mustapha stated, according SIRASA NEWS, at 7 pm on Saturday December 11, 2014 that “my community is important to me and I cannot remain in politics if the government is backed by the BBS”.
However Mr. Faizer is matured enough to understand that he was part and parcel of the government which protects Bodu Bala Sena and Sinhala Ravaya whose atrocities against Muslims during the past four years remain open secret.
Muslims were not hostile to President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government. Sizable section of the Muslim community always voted for the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. After the LTTE defeat in May 2009 Muslims in general were fully behind the government in the hope their sufferings during the ethnic war would end
Unfortunately, instead of relief, violence was unleashed on them by a small group of Sinhala extremists pitting Sinhalese against Muslims. In fact the attack on the community began even before the end of the ethnic war.
For example it began with the despicable kidnapping of Muslim businessmen by “white Van”. This crippled Muslim economy and caused untold misery to thousands of poor families depending on them for their survival. Then came the Grease Yaka” attacks on Muslim women when men went for night prayer during the Holy month of Ramadan.
This was followed by attacks on mosques, religious schools, food they consume, women’s dress code and business establishments. According to United Nations sources there were 350 organized attacks on the Muslim community. The well planned and implemented violent attacks on Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala Muslims were the worst pogrom which destroyed their residential and commercial properties and turned the once well to do Muslims paupers overnight.
Hooligans looted and emptied the buildings before setting them ablaze. The irony is perpetrators of this dastardly crime remain at large and none was brought to book.
In the midst there came the reception to Myanmar’s fascist saffron thug Ashin Wirathu who is responsible for the massacre of Rohingya Muslims. A section of Sinhala racists always predicted that an attack on Muslims in 2015 is inevitable to commemorate the centenary of 1915 Sinhala-Muslims.
Despite all these attacks and harassments the SLMC continues to cling on to the government to the embarrassment of the community. Minister Bathiudeen pledge to continue with the government while Senior Minister A.H.M. Fowzie appealed to Muslims to vote for President Mahinda and said “President Mahinda Rajapaksa had done great services to Muslims and if elected again he would do more”.
Perhaps Minister Fowzie seems to be living in another planet. Before making such a statement Minister Fowzie should visit Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala and look into the faces and eyes of those innocent children whose fathers were slaughtered only because they happened to be Muslims.
Today Ministers Fowzie, Rauf Hakeem, Bathiurdeen, Faizer Mustapha and other shameless survivors together with sworn enemies of Muslims BBS, Ravana Balaya, Sinhala Ravaya are all in one camp.
This is the disgusting state of affairs of Muslim parliamentarians. This prompted United National Party parliamentarian Lakshman Kiriella to state that “it doesn’t matter whether SLMC remains with the government or cross over to the opposition”.
All what the Muslims, living scattered all over the island, wanted is an environment where their religious freedom, their property, their businesses, their cultural and social life remain safe. They also wanted to end the ongoing disastrous anti Muslim campaign which contributed to straining relations with the majority community.
In short they are looking for a president who would ensure their rights and dignity.