We were able to go through a media report that a peaceful popular gathering organised by the National Front for Good Governance (NFGG) in Sainthamaruthu and Akkaraipattu to debate the Muslim politics and Muslim situation today had been attacked. We heard that the attackers had deeply disturbed the audiences that they could not exchange their views in the meeting. A mob that came to the event on the pretext of participants has violently sabotaged the meeting. They have angrily pelted stones and chairs at others who were there. They have also smashed the class windows of the meeting hall. One rioter has whipped up his feeling of regionalism at the NFGG chairman Abdul Rahman thus “If you are to do politics, do it in your Kattankudy and not in our Sainthamaruthu. If you come to do it here (Sainthamaruthu), your fate will be like this.” Those who represent the NFGG hail from different areas. Its chairman Rahman belongs to Kattankudy. NFGG’s propaganda secretary Siraj Mashoor is from Akkaraipattu. The organisation’s another leader Najah Mohamed hails from Hapugastalawa. They are junior generation of Muslim politics who for now have similar thoughts shaped by local and global geo-socio-political realities. Their civic activism with such views is seriously feared to free Muslim politics from its communal chauvinism and opportunism.
Those who sabotaged the NFGG meetings are strongly believed to be some ardent supporters of local politicians from their areas who belonged to a principal Muslim political party. The saboteurs unreasonably forgot a fact that the initiation of this political party that created these politicians as their local leaders emanated from the same kattankudy. They conveniently forgot another fact that the current leadership of this party’ came from Kandy. They also adamantly forgot their religion in this respect, which would not have had the companions of its’ last prophet who represented a rich diversity in their colour, region and tribes if it had encouraged people to act or follow a political culture on the ground of regionalism.
These saboteurs are not supposed to be accused for disturbing a peaceful gathering. Their wrongdoing was not spontaneous. They have been incited by their so-called local political sheiks to act in this lunatic manner for retaining sheiks’ political existence intact. They have been nurtured in their political nursery feeding just extreme regionalism and opportunism in the name of Muslim politics. Therefore, it is pointless to blame these bows when their sheiks are hunters who fired them. Their sheiks are culprits to answer this.
Today, a political bankruptcy has started to occur in their local sheiks’ political party. That party’s leadership and some senior party stalwarts all have destroyed Muslim politics today. They have always filled their pockets in addressing their innocent people’s legitimate political aspirations and grievances. What they have been doing today is a flagrant betrayal against own people in the name of Muslim politics. They try to create a tendency that Muslim politics is to just extract posts and perks from ruling ranks irrespective of their stance on Muslim community. They were adhered to the Rajapksa government until last minute for this reason despite that regime silently backing hundreds of violent campaigns against their people’s existence and rights. They were so quick to receive posts and rewards from Maithri government also for the same reason. The party leadership needed an allegiance from party ranks and files in the presence of Muslim Ulemma (religious leaders) to relinquish their posts Mahinda gave and leave his government during presidential election. But, the leadership did not need the same allegiance in the presence Ulemma to accept posts Maithri gave and join his government immediately after the election. Muslim people of the country were to teach these political leaders an absolute lesson this time during the presidential election. Unfortunately, their opportunistic politics managed to help these leaders avoid such important event in the history of Muslim politics. However, Muslim masses began to ask several questions that need to be answered by these leaders: Why do these leaders deserve for these perks and patronage? Had they protected Muslim community when it was being violently targeted over a couple of hundred times in the previous regime? Or had they addressed their people’s basic problems pertaining to land, education, employment, economy, and war victimization? Or had they won their community’s legitimate aspirations?
Muslim politics today needs radical reforms in its contents. It seeks two important thinks: one is what Muslim community should do and the other is how Muslim community should be in the country in its minority nature. Today, Muslims in the country are vulnerably divided for different reasons. Different thoughts they have established themselves on the basis of religion, politics and regionalism have today produced dozens of political parties and leaderships, dozens of religious schools of thought and multiple priorities among them. The followers of these organisations are at times intransigent in pursuing their respective organisations’ thoughts and in promoting their areas. They have in fact caused unrest in Muslims’ social order and at times they have brought chaos even in family life of people. This situation has virtually totally ruined the unity of Muslim community today. This development is un-Islamic, because, for Muslims, their social unity is first and all else are secondary. So, this trend (social disunity) that is undoubtedly destructive should be altered. Muslims should offer to put aside their destructive differences and reinstate their one time vibrant social unity to move forward for all achievements. This is related to the first thing: what they should do.
The next is Muslim contribution to ethnic amity. Muslims the second largest ethnic minority of the country should opt to be great Sri Lankans living in peace and harmony with other communities in the country. They should work for a socio-political culture in which Muslim should speak for other communities and they should get other communities to speak for them. This is a tri lateral contract (Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims) of inter-ethnic amity. In this, Muslims should not dismiss their role and should not expect other communities for their role. This aspect is related to the second thing: how Muslims should be.
Muslim unity and their socio-political contribution to communal relations are both not likely by today’s Muslim politics as it is driven by just communalism and regionalism. It has been the main characteristic of Muslim politics today that people give their ballots and leaders get rewards. This trend should not be allowed to continue. Muslim politics should make differences in its content. Its leaderships are not ready for changes because they fear that changes in status quo would cost them their political survivals. It has always been civil forces to advance revolutionary changes for societies in their social, economical, and political fabrics. In that sense, the NFGG might remain a civil force to come up with a radical reform for Muslim politics if its socio-political agenda will be equipped and compatible with realities of Muslim politics.
Dr. Salithamby Abdul Rauff, Assistant Professor, teaches at Dhofar University, Sultanate of Oman