By Latheef Farook –
A group of Sri Lankan Muslim expatriates in the West, comprising mainly professionals and intellectuals, observed “Remembrance Week” – between 8 and 14 of December 2022- marking the violence against Sri Lankan Muslims. This campaign which continued uninterrupted until the people’s uprising caused by economic bankruptcy and political instability and the realization by the Sinhalese that the hate campaign against the Muslims campaign had been used as a political tool by Rajapaksa brothers to return to power.
As part of this remembrance week Al Bayan TV which is based in Leicester in the UK organized a webinar highlighting the atrocities committed and the destruction of Muslim residential, commercial and industrial projects besides killing innocent Muslims.
Participants included Professor Aiyoob Azmin from Canada, Professor Imtiyaz Razak from Delware Valley University,USA, Prof Hyder Ali from France, and Ayub Khan from Canada and me – from Sri Lanka. The webinar held on Sunday December 8 was conducted by Shaikh Ismail Munaf, Managing Director of Al Bayan TV.
While highlighting details of the atrocities, the participants emphasized the need to prevent such hate campaigns which demonized Muslims and divided the Sinhalese and Muslims communities.
While insisting on the need to restore Muslim rights participants emphasized the need for measures to undo damage caused so far. They also insisted on the need for measures to re establish better ties and harmony between the two communities – Sinhalese and Muslims
Webinars and other such measures are needed in view of the presence of global anti Muslims forces in Sri Lanka such as United States, Europe, Israel and Hindutva government of India with their agendas against Muslims-which result in pitting communities against each other.
This well planned and executed hate campaign against the Muslims commenced soon after the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Elam, LTTE, in May 2009. It continued until the people’s uprising which overthrew President Gotabya Rajapaksa and Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa who were accused of carrying out this campaign for political purposes.
While Sri Lankan Muslims living abroad remain conscious about the plight of Muslims here in the island the Muslim community remain clueless and indifferent to conspiracies against them.
This is the reason why no such program was organized by Muslims in the island. Muslim political parties, with a reputation for going after position and perks dismissing the rights of the community and the country miserably failed to organize any such event reminding the country of violence and injustice to Muslims.
So is the case with the religious body All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema, ACJU, which failed to use even the Friday Juma sermons to enlighten Muslims of the atrocities and warn them of the need to be vigilant to avert such a tragedy in future.
Every street corner there are asociatio0ns and societies. Even they failed to issue statements to remind the nation of the atrocities against Muslims. Civil society too, remain, by and large, inactive.
Instead some Muslims honoured these very same politicians who were proved to be the architects of the persecution against Muslims by inviting them for their weddings.
This is the sad state of affairs of the Muslim community which remains clueless to conspiracies as hostile elements remain active.
Isn’t it time for Muslim politicians, ulemas, civil society, professionals, educated women and all others to wake up and join hands with enlightened elements in the Sinhalese community fighting for restoration of democracy and national rights to work towards common benefit of the country?
SJ / December 21, 2022
Have you much bothered to think of other sections of the population who have been persecuted far more and far worse than the Muslims.
It is a good thing to stand up for persecuted Muslims, but it is a far far far better thing to stand up against all forms of oppression by any against any other.
Too much of self pity isolates one even from fair minded people. (This is not about your comments alone.)
Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / December 21, 2022
To say that Muslims are persecuted in Srilanka by Buddhists is not correct. When a community is persecuted, there will be large scale violence unleashed on them and they are forced to leave the country in large numbers to seek asylum somewhere else. How many Muslims have left the country and sought asylum abroad. Only Muslim criminals have sought asylum in Muslim countries like Dubai and Malaysia, and are living there. If you say Muslims were persecuted by Portuguese, then it is correct because Muslims sought asylum among the Sinhalese in upcountry and among Tamils in eastern province. It is Tamils who are being persecuted in Srilanka and lots of them have sought asylum in India and western countries. Christians and Hindus are being persecuted in Pakistan and are gradually leaving the country. Muslims must blame themselves for this sorry plight. Every discriminatory laws passed and every discriminatory acts committed on Tamils by Sinhalese were supported by Muslims who benefited by it. Now the wheel has turned and they are crying foul.
Dr. Gnana Sankaralingam / December 22, 2022
Worst racism in Srilanka is the Muslim claim for eastern province and to achieve this to commit murder and ethnic cleansing of Tamils joining with Sinhalese. How can those who went as refugees to eastern province claim as their own above those who gave them refuge. Worst terrorism in Srilanka is the killing by Muslim terrorists of nearly 300 people in a single day, half of whom were Tamils. It has been revealed that Muslims have received money and support by government to create trouble to Tamils , which is going on even after the war ended. When Muslims are committing atrocities on Tamils, how can you claim persecution. Muslims are mortally scared of Buddhists and that is why they are going on soft targets like Tamils and Catholics. Stop complaining about foreign forces in Srilanka acting against Muslims, when you are silent about Muslim forces from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are acting against Tamils in promoting settlement of Muslims in Tamil areas and appropriation of lands belonging to Tamils mainly in eastern province. Stop using mosques for political purposes and propagation of hatred.
ekelbroom / December 21, 2022
“Isn’t it time for Muslim politicians, ulemas, civil society, professionals, educated women and all others ….. “
[Note : In what follows ‘Muslim’ Community refers collectively to the members of the Moor, Malay and other ethnic groups who are adherents of the Islamic faith in Sri Lanka]
Isn’t it time for the Muslim Community to take a close, careful, objective look at itself through the eyes of the other communities ? How can inter-communal issues and differences be resolved effectively if the Muslims do not know as to what it is about them that creates apprehension, anger and fear among other communities ?
Isn’t it time for the Muslim Community to stop waiting for Muslim ‘leaders’ to wake up and … ‘work towards common benefit of the country …’ ? Have they not heard of the old Navajo proverb “You can’t wake a person who is pretending to be asleep” ?
Isn’t it time for the Muslim Community to stop looking for ‘ …. enlightened elements in the Sinhalese community …. ‘ ? Especially if by ‘enlightened’, they mean Sinhalese (Buddhists) who appear to be highly tolerant of the lifestyles of the Muslims. They should bear in mind at all times that the tolerance of the Buddhists should not be misconstrued as acquiescence on their part.
ekelbroom / December 21, 2022
Isn’t it time for the Muslim Community to put Country before Self and seek out ways and means of replacing their current strategy of Confrontation based on arrogance with that of Circumvention based on empathy and compassion in resolving their issues with the other communities ?
Isn’t it time for the Muslim Community to become aware of the importance of establishing and maintaining a constant dialogue with the other communities on the subject of national harmony ? They should be made conscious of the fact that if they are NOT at the TABLE, then they will be on the MENU.
Isn’t it time for the Muslim Community to realize that their intransigence may be creating the space for the perpetuation of anti-Muslim sentiment among other communities ?
Isn’t it time for the Muslim Community to understand that their future well-being in Sri Lanka is contingent upon their ability and willingness to strengthen their identity as ‘Muslim Sri Lankans’ rather than the differentiating label ‘Sri Lankan Muslims’ which was introduced at the 1901 Census of Population to distinguish the Ceylon Moors from the Indian Moors ?
Rohan25 / December 21, 2022
ekelbroom, Sri Lankan Muslims or Moors like him are deliberately and aggressively trying to create some sort of imagined pan-Islamic/Muslim identity and ethnicity, in order to distance themselves from their actual South Indian origin Tamil immigrant identity, thinking this will give them lots of political and economic advantages. Islam is a religion and not an ethnicity or race, people from many races and ethnicities, follow Islam and being a Muslim is not a racial or ethnic identity, like these people want to portray but a religious identity. The Malays, Bohra and other ethnicities amongst the Muslims living on the island realize this truth and correctly identify themselves by their ethnicity, Eg: Sri Lankan Malay, Borah, etc.
Rohan25 / December 21, 2022
Only these South Indian-origin Tamil Muslims of Sri Lanka, who love to call themselves “Moor” after the incorrect name the Portuguese gave them, referring only to their religion and not to their race or ethnicity, want to create this imagined pan-Muslim ethnicity,/race and identify this Muslim identity with the Arabs and Arabic culture and to justify this, keep on highlighting a partial Arab or western Asian origin, that a very small minority of them have and claim it as a blanket origin for the entire community, where more than 95% of them are pure Tamil, but even this small minority are predominantly Tamil. In my opinion, this person is one of them. Their politicians, ulemas, civil society, professionals and elite from the time of independence have gone around aggressively brainwashing the island’s Tamil Muslim/Moor masses, that to be a good Muslim, they have to discard and disown their actual Tamil ethnicity and culture, and closely identify themselves with the Gulf Arabs and other western Asians and the Arabic, culture, dress habits etc. With funds and influence from certain western Asian nations, they have aggressively and successfully implemented this brainwashing, especially in the strategic Tamil east and now we can see the results on the streets and in the April Easter bombing
Rohan25 / December 21, 2022
The current aggressive claim that the ancient Tamil east is now an Islamic homeland, which will be some sort of pathetic carbon copy of Gulf Arabs and not Tamil in character, over the heads of the native indigenous Hindu Tamils who had lived and ruled this area for two thousand years. Despite Tamil being the largest community in the east 42% and most of the land and the east is their ancient homeland and the Tamil Muslims arrived here a few centuries ago, as refugees. Now trying to claim ownership for the original owners and steal it from them. You have a right to live peacefully, and with dignity as fellow Tamils, not Arabs and follow your religion but aggressively imitate an alien culture in a name of religion and steal another people’s land. This is where all the problems lie, all this aggressiveness and intolerance on behalf of an alien culture and people in the name of religion, instead of acknowledging the truth as to who they really are, that is making the island’s Sinhalese, especially the Tamils very suspicious of them, as when they talk of Islam it is not the rich ancient 1000-year-old, largely Sufi and very tolerant Tamil Islamic culture that they brought from their original South Indian homeland but about the now aggressive and alien Wahhabi Gulf Arab culture, language, dress forms, that is very alien to the ancient Hindu/Buddhist culture of the island.
Raj-UK / December 21, 2022
What does it tell you when your own people like Ali Sabry suck up to the Rajapakses? We don’t have many of those ”enlightened elements” you mention in our society. However, the ‘aragalaya’ indicated that it is possible but not when the country is run by self serving politicians & their bum sucking cronies.
Pandi Kutti / December 21, 2022
Mr Farook, like all southern Muslims( 72% of the island’s Muslims) living amongst the Chingkallams, you are only interested in pleasing the Chingkallms and Muslim/Chingkalla relations but never care or want to mend fences with your fellow non-Muslim Hindu and Christian Thamizh, to whom you have caused immense damage in the name of Islam and Arabic culture/fake Arab origin and still do. To make matters worse, even join hands with Islamic extremists. opportunists and hardliners in the Thamizh north and east and urge the Muslim Thamizh population living in these regions, against having good relations, with their fellow Thamizh, amongst whom they live and to act against the interests of Thamizh, sabotage their fight for justice, equality and to preserve what is left of their ancient homeland by joining hands with the racist Chingkalla establishment, armed forces and illegal settlers, living on ethnically cleansed Thamizh lands. How hypocritical and nasty,
Pandi Kutti / December 21, 2022
You southern Muslims want to live amicably and have a good relationship with the Chingkallams, that is fine but want this at the expense of your fellow Muslim Thamizh living in the Thamizh areas, not having a good relationship with the rest of the Thamizh, and sabotaging Thamizh people’s rights and denial of justice to them and their ancient homeland. Constantly coming here and crying about Palestinian Arabs, Syria, Afghanistan and the plight of these people, with whom you and the rest of the Sri Lankan Moor or Thamizh Muslims have hardly any connection, other than Isam but do not care two hoots and aid and abet the marginalization, structural genocide of your fellow non-Muslim Thamizh on the island, with whom you share the same ethnicity, heritage, language and culture until the Arabization craze started. Please do not expect sympathy from us.
Ajith / December 22, 2022
“This is the sad state of affairs of the Muslim community which remains clueless to conspiracies as hostile elements remain active.”
I am sure that you are also one of the Muslim community. Muslim community or their representatives are fully aware that what happened to them but they are not in a position to join the hands with enlightened elements in the Sinhalese community
fighting for restoration of democracy and national rights to work towards common benefit of the country because they also benefitted ministerial posts and they were part of the regimes when ruling political parties violated and destroyed the democracy. For example, it is Muslim MPs and Ministers helped to bring 18th and 20th amendments.
Mahila / December 23, 2022
Problem would only be solved, when one has an In-depth look at the issues and concerns related to the problem in a larger matrix!
1. persecution of any and all groups – trans ethno-religious for instance
2. persecution of any minority groups – trans ethnic for (Christian/Hindu/Muslim)
3. persecution of minority ethno-religious groups – (Christian/Hindu/Buddhist/Muslim)
4. Persecution of every single segment of ethnic and religious segmentation by majority!
Instead we are narrowing it into
C. Tamil/Sinhala, or
D. recent origin Tamils to native Tamils of longer residence tenure
E. Buddhist/Catholics/Christian/Hindus etc.
One cannot do this in such compartmentalised or Silo type phenomenon!!??
To say the least, there are greater problems and concerns with other communities vis – a – vis the major ethno-religious community in this country, far more serious than that of Muslims vs Buddhists!!??
Oversimplifying as Muslim/Sinhalese and delineating from other persecutions doesn’t help to find an ultimate solution and the best!!!
SOLUTION FOR ALL CONCERNS AND NOTIN ISOLATION THEREOF WILL MERIT AN OUTCOME!!!
Gus / December 23, 2022
Israeli trained muslim paramilitaries engage by and collaborated with the by and army to do its dirty work and these muslim paramilitaries were involved in genocidal killings, and rapes, arson lootings against the tamils. Once in 1983 when having a short sojourn in sinhala land a muslim told me that unlike ceylon tamils who run away to Jaffna and other tamil areas they stay and fight the sinhalas when attacked Yeah I was observing their stay and attack BULLSHIT!! when them muslims were reaping their just deserts from their erstwhile sinhala collaborators in the genocidal murders rapes of ceylon tamils. THE SAYING THAT WHEN THEIVES FALL OUT HOMEST MEN GET THEIR DUES – IS APT IN THESE CIRCUMSTANCES
lankan100 / December 23, 2022
I understand muslims were not much threat to Srilanka in the past. However after this internet and social media, the fundamentalism spreading from middle east. As I mentioned before in another column here, Hisbullah is able to get 300 m loans from Qatar as he remarked two years back wheras Srilankan govt is unabe to get any loans. Eastern province is the worse. The students learns arabic faster than tamil or sinhala.
lankan100 / December 24, 2022
Hello Farook, Do you remember Ashroff gangs( at the time of 80s I believe he was a powerful minister as Premadasa was shaking head for his votes) attached the village of Karativu to chase the tamil out of the village.
lankan100 / December 24, 2022
attacked the village of Karativu to instill the fear in tamils to chase them out of Karaitivu