By Kumar David –
The Holy Prophet lay in a deep reverie when a vision appeared to him. He conveyed the words uttered to him by the apparition and this was how of the Holy Book came to be set down in writing. Last week I was in a reverie pondering the consequences of the Aluthgama incidents when four thoughts came to me out of cyberspace. I believe they are worth sharing with others and including in a discussion though last week’s spike in anti-Muslim violence may have subsided for now. As in 1983, the regime realised within a few days that this kind of overt high-intensity violence is a public relations liability. But small scale local violence that does not draw too much international media attention can be expected to persist.
Here are the four seminal thoughts that descended on me from cyberspace.
First, with Aluthgama, anti-Muslim violence by the state and its clients, has taken on a momentum and life of its own, like anti-Tamil violence, and no longer requires conscious direction by the state, the regime or prominent players like the BBS. Could this lead, as with the Tamils, to displacement of communities, counter violence and even armed resistance by the Muslim Moors? It’s too early to say, but it is worth noting is that even last week there were retaliatory attacks by the Moors; something that was absent in 1983 on the part of Tamil non combatants. The willingness of ordinary unarmed Moors in the affected areas to retaliate is not without significance. The Moors, unlike the effeminate Tamils, have balls. The racist mobs and the government must have realised that if they go on the rampage they will be punished, not by the law non-enforcement forces of the state, but by ordinary Muslims.
Second, June 2014 is a political watershed for the Muslims, as much as July 1983 was for the Tamils. Whether it will carry the enormous consequences for not just the Moors, but the Malays too, that July 1983 had for the Tamils and Lanka, only the future will tell. But certainly there has been a rupture in Moor and Muslim confidence, faith and support for the government and the state.
Third, Aluthgama has redefined the state and crystallised the ethnic and religious sectarianism of the Lankan state and consummated the 1956-Project at a broader and higher level. Pre-Aluthgama it was possible to pretend that only the Ceylon Tamils were external to the state which by default included the other minorities: Christians, Muslims and Upcountry Tamils. The alienation of the Muslims at Aluthgama last week ended this fiction. With the numerically major minorities, the Ceylon Tamils and Moors, cast as enemies of the state, the latter has taken on a clearer Sinhala-Buddhist identity. This may not necessarily make the state weaker; in fact over the decades, its ideologically monolithic nature, unity of purpose and clarity of direction, has resulted in a stronger state than in 1956.
Fourthly Aluthgama has the potential to realign the balance of community politics in the country. Between 1956 and 1970 there was an element of unity among minority communities. The genius of the state was its ability to shatter this unity and hence weaken its ideological opponents and the left. The Ceylon Tamils in and after 1970 opposed the state, but it was a lonely quest because the other minorities (Muslims, Upcountry Tamils and Christians) mistakenly believed that if they appeared loyal to the state they would be left unmolested. Aluthgama has shattered this delusion. However Aluthgama may or may not result in enlightened minorities seeing unity and opposition as a better tactic than appeasement and collaboration; at least not overnight.
I believe these four points are worth further consideration.
I conclude by quoting a statement by Rauf Hakeem:
“Some of them who attacked us were said to be in uniform. That is a serious situation. It is an allegation at the moment, but it is disturbing. On Thursday, two persons who were shot at died at Welipitya, but the inquest and post-mortem are ridiculous. I can produce evidence of used bullets where the two were injured. I went to the spot. The bullets weren’t fired by civilians. However the autopsy report has indicated that the deaths were due to serious cut injuries. That is a preposterous situation if medical reports are being fabricated.” (Ceylon Today 24 June 2014)
What on earth is going on? I have never before come across a thing like this is any country. This man is supposed to be a Cabinet Minister in the Rajapakse Government! Is he shameless or is there something that is hidden from all? Can this charade or this government last?