20 August, 2019

Blog

Secularism Or Barbarism

By Tisaranee Gunasekara

“And even here

Lies the other shore

Waiting to be reached.”

Tagore (My Reminiscences)

The blue, red, yellow, orange and white lights are on, as are the makeshift stalls selling lanterns. Yet few pause to see, haggle, buy. Vesak, so near chronologically, had never seemed so far away spiritually.

After the Easter Sunday Massacre, fears were raised about Vesak too being turned into a bloody spectacle by the IS, working through its local adherents. As it turned out, neither the IS nor its local adherents were necessary to turn Vesak into a season of violence. The Sinhalese managed the task on their own. 

The outburst of anti-Muslims violence began on 12th Sunday in Chilaw (the inciting incident seemingly was a Facebook post by a Muslim trader with deficient English and a cavalier attitude towards punctuation; it was translated into Sinhala by a Sinhalese whose knowledge of English was even poorer). Within hours, the violence spread to other parts of the North Western Province and to Gampaha district. Undeterred by the curfew or the presence of the security forces, the mobs attacked and burnt, as they did in Digana in 2018, Aluthgama in 2014 and nationally during Black July. 

As of now, the worse of the violence seems over. Even so, this is only a reprieve. If the perpetrators of this week’s riots are not brought before the law, fast, a new outburst is bound to follow. 

The main suspects of the Digana anti-Muslim violence (including Amth Weerasinghe of the Mahason Balakaya) were arrested, and remanded. But they were never charged, despite the presence of ample evidence in the public domain. Three days after the anti-constitutional coup of October 26th, they were enlarged on bail. Afterwards, Amith Weerasinghe tried to ignite other religious flares. For instance, earlier this year, he attempted to fire up Buddhists by shouting about a Hindu takeover of the Sri Pada 

The Mahason Balakaya and other Sinhala-Buddhist fanatics happily returned to the anti-Muslim groove after the Easter Sunday Massacre. A demonstration against ‘Islamic terrorism’ planned for 11th Saturday in Digana was banned by the courts. Responding to the ban, the Mahason Balakaya leader made no secret about his future plans. “I’m asking the leaders of this country, if in future a ten thousand Amith Weerasinghes are created can you issue ten thousand banning orders? If fifty thousand, sixty thousand monks of this country get on to the road, what will you do?”.

His threat turned into an actuality in less than 48 hours.  

Had this man, and his cohorts, been charged, tried and convicted, perhaps this week’s violence might not have happened. When perpetrators of mob-violence go unpunished, it opens the door to Ochlocracy. 

Speaker Karu Jayasuriya stated, “There is no difference whatsoever between those extremist traitors and suicide bombers killing children.” He was right. This week’s rioters are terrorists too and the government must treat them as such. If the government fails to act with speed and firmness, if it allows the incendiaries to walk, again, another outburst of violence would be unavoidable. 

A Black May might have been avoided, but 2019 has seven more months left to go. Sri Lanka’s fate lies in balance. Ten years after the end of the last war, will we be plunged into a new –religious – war?

The not-so-new Spectre

Ethnic-overdetermination was the term used by Dr. Newton Gunasinghe to describe the new divide in Sri Lanka in the aftermath of Black July. Using an Althusserian concept, he argued that in both Sinhala and Tamil societies, the ethnic factor had come to the fore, submerging class contradictions. The subsequent years were to prove him right. 

Today, Sri Lanka is facing an even greater danger, that of religious-overdetermination. If the government fails to rein in forces of religious extremism on all sides, the dream of a Lankan nation will be replaced by the nightmarish reality of a country plagued by violent religious fissures. Religious identity will trump every other alignment, starting with our common humanity. 

Interestingly, the first signs of a nascent religious overdetermination appeared during the long interregnum created by the third and final peace process. During the 2002-2005 period, Catholics, including Sinhala Catholics, were turned into the new enemy. The conversion of Buddhists into Christianity was depicted as an even greater danger than Eelam. The old crimes of Portuguese colonists gained a new immediacy in the extremist Sinhala-Buddhist discourse. The demand for an anti-conversion bill began to dominate the political debate. 

The anti-Catholic hysteria reached its moral nadir when Soma Thero died suddenly during a visit to Russia. Catholics were accused of murdering the monk, as a part of a Western conspiracy to take over Sri Lanka. Churches were attacked by the dozen. The hysteria was such that the government was forced to appoint a commission to investigate the monk’s demise.  The anti-Catholic fires were stoked by the newly formed Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) to gain a considerable chunk of the electoral pie at the 2004 parliamentary polls. 

The anti-Catholic hysteria vanished as suddenly as it began when the de facto Fourth Eelam War commenced. Tamils replaced Christians once again as the main enemy.

During the initial post-war years, Sinhala-Buddhist extremists targeted not Muslims but Christians. The newly minted BBS put forward five demands at its inaugural convention at the BMICH in July 2012. None of them made specific mention of Muslims. The resolutions demanded an end to family planning among Sinhalese, amending the current (Roman, Dutch and British inspired) laws to protect Buddhists, opposition to a political solution to the ethnic problem, implementing the recommendation of the Buddhasasana Commission Report of 1959 and appointing a regulatory authority to supervise Buddhist books (The Island – 29.7.2012). There was no halal demand or burqa hysteria. 

Just six months later, it all changed. In January 2013, the BBS launched its anti-halal campaign. Suddenly the Muslims were the new enemy, their way of life an existential threat to everyone else. 

After the Easter Sunday Massacre, many Muslim leaders came forward to denounce the carnage and the suicide bombers in unequivocal terms. And in a gesture that spoke louder than multiples tomes full of words, Lankan Islamic leaders refused to accept the bodies of the suicide bombers, thereby denying the killers a religious burial. Their purpose was to demonstrate their abhorrence towards suicide bombing and to send a clear warning to the entire Muslims community that such violence in the name of faith was unacceptable.

The leading Buddhist monks are yet to take a similar stand. They didn’t do it during Black July or the previous attacks on Tamils. They didn’t do so during Aluthgama and Digana anti-Muslim outbursts. They are still not doing it.

How hard is it to say that violence has no place in Buddhism? How hard is it to point out that no monk can advocate violence and remain a true disciple of the Buddha? How hard it is to denounce the rioting as anti-Buddhist, a disgrace to one of the greatest proponents of non-violence the world has ever known? How hard is it to tell the rioters not to desecrate Vesak with their violent orgy? How hard is it to say, Not in our name, never in our name? 

Post-East Sunday Massacre, many have accused Muslims of insularity. Yet when Muslim progressives tried to lessen that insularity by abolishing such egregious practices as child marriage, they found themselves alone and defenceless. The other communities ignored their struggle, while the craven government abandoned them to the fury of their own fundamentalists. (Rajan Hoole’s Sri Lanka’s Easter Tragedy through the Eyes of Dissent in The Colombo Telegraph deals with this aspect at length).

In another inane and deadly repetition of the past, democratic Muslim leaders are being equated with the IS terrorists. This was exactly what happened with the Tamils; we found democratic Tamil leaders ‘too much’ and got Vellupillai Pirapaharan in their stead. 

The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe administration had a rare window of opportunity to work with moderates and progressives of all communities to isolate and weaken the hardliners, the radicals, the fundamentalists. The government missed that opportunity. The tragedy and the danger of today stem from that unforgivable failure.

A different path?

Sri Lanka had a secular constitution up to 1972. It was changed by a supposedly left government for no reason other than political expediency. 

There was no popular demand in the 1970’s to change the secular nature of the constitution, to give a special place to Buddhism. For the majority of people, economic considerations were paramount. Yet the United Front government, and specifically Dr. Colvin R de Silva, took that fateful step, thereby creating a new minefield for Sri Lanka. 

After Easter Sunday Massacre, there are demands for reforms in Muslim society. But for these reforms to be implemented successfully, without further alienating a large swathe of ordinary Muslims, they must come as a part of a general political and societal transformation. Sri Lanka as a whole needs to move away from religious politics to non-religious politics. Political leaders and religious leaders must begin to focus on their separate spheres, ending the deadly practice of fusing the two for personal and parochial gains. 

Secularism is often misconceived as being anti-religious. It is not. Secularism stands for the separation of religious institutions and state institutions, for freedom of religion and for equality for all faiths and none. Secularism is also denigrated as a Western fashion. But two of history’s greatest secular rulers came from the Orient, from India: Akbar the Great, and Maharaja Ranjith Singh, known to posterity as the Lion of Punjab. They both successfully led multi-religious empires by adopting policies of religious neutrality. 

Extremism is fuelled by ignorance. In Sri Lanka, every religious community has ghettoised itself. We interact less with each other and know less about each other than we did fifty years ago. This separation starts at school and continues right to the grave. We boast that Sri Lanka is home to four great religions, but our children are not taught even the basics of other religions. We know next to nothing of each other’s history. This ignorance provides a fertile ground for extremists of all varieties. It makes the task of demonising and dehumanising the religious Other easier.

How much would a non-Muslim child know about the contributions made by Islamic scholars, philosophers and scientists to our common civilisation? How much would even a Muslim child, exposed only to Salafi influences, know about those contributions? Hasn’t that ignorance enabled the creation of a dangerously false stereotype, Islam and Muslims as joyless religious fanatics? 

Eric Hobsbawm uses a phrase from Karl Kraus to define religious fundamentalists, calling them the symptoms of ‘the disease of which they purport to be the cure’ (The Age of Extremes). The solution to religious fantaticism is not to enhance the marriage between politics and religion but to lessen those bonds. 

The 17th Century French Philosopher Pierre Bayle in his Historical and Critical Dictionary pointed out that given the bloody history of religious conflict and persecution, it is impossible to conclude that there is a correlation between religious faith and moral conduct. If the gory events of the last month proved anything, it did the correctness of Bayle’s argument. Absolute, uncritical, unquestioning faith in any creed, religious or political, paves the way to inhumanity and barbarity. Suicide killers or rioters are not born; they are made by a belief that killing the religious other is either no sin or opens a quick root to heaven. 

When Andre Malraux asked Nehru to name his greatest challenge Nehru’s reply was “creating a just state by just means; perhaps too creating a secular state in a religious country” (Anti-Memoirs). As we stand on the brink of a new – and a worse – abyss, our challenge is no different – we need to create a Lankan nation in a country plagued by conflicting and contending tribal consciousnesses. That task can be undertaken only by a state that tries to stay above those divisions, and not immerse itself in them. 

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Latest comments

  • 4
    31

    Lanka should above all select humanism. The writers mumbo jumbo is all directed towards blaming the victim. The cannibalistic Jihadi Moslem terrorists who devoured the human flesh on Easter Sunday never got a word of blame from this author. And she obviously does not care and perhaps secretly has a twisted fetish about the blood and the gore. Shame on this writer for her thoroughly dishonest, pro-Jihadi Moslem anti Kaffir campaign which I have observed every time an article appears on CT.

    Lankans ignore this type of vultures who feed on the flesh and blood of the victims and blame the victims and fight back with all you can muster against the Jihadi Moslem terror. Death is better than succumbing to these cannibals.

    • 10
      2

      This is Jew Chambers talking. Since, the connection of the Sinhala Racist Network with Mossad/CIA/RAW grand plan… you have to work hard on the Anti Islamic Hasbara duties. All your evils will be returning back to you as Karma from heavens.

      • 12
        2

        Jew Chambers has been paid most probably to add fuel to the fire, spew anti Muslim propaganda, and help turn Sri Lanka into another Myanmar. After all here is another opportunity for the snakes to sell more weapons to kill Muslims, just like in Myanmar.

        • 10
          2

          This Chamber pot does not understand English nor has the intelligence to appreciate what TG has written, A waste of time by CT publishing crap from a moron.

        • 0
          6

          Myanmar is a wonderful country that is defending itself from an invasion of barbaric Rohingy Moslem fanatics. If Lanka can turn into another Myanmar and can find its own leader like Myanmar, then it can survive the barbaric Jihadi Moslems onslaught.

      • 0
        8

        Aha, we are very racist, aren’t we. The Moslem swine immediately grabs at the eternal enemies of terror, with Mossad at the front of the list. I have nothing to do with either one of them, but I think Israel is a wonderful country and its secret service is highly commendable organization. Lanka should emulate them as much as possible. The Jewish people have contributed so much to humanity, names like Einstein come to mind. And they also know how to defend themselves, the many battles between Israel and Arabs show that Israel is a much better organized, intelligent and superior nation.

    • 9
      1

      That comment reminds me so much of the zionists, who has brutally occupied the Palestinians, steals their lands shamelessly, build illegal settlements, and kill unarmed civilians by the hundreds. All crimes condemned by the international community.
      They are worse than vultures.

      “A UN investigation into the 2018 Gaza protests has concluded that Israeli officers and their leaders may have committed war crimes or crimes against humanity. The human rights council’s commission of inquiry found that soldiers intentionally used live ammunition against civilians, who included children, women, journalists, health workers and people with disabilities.

      The figures are telling: more than 6,000 people injured by Israeli bullets, with 183 killed. Renowned human rights organisations such as Human Rights Watch, B’Tselem and Al-Haq had already denounced this policy, with B’Tselem calling on Israeli soldiers not to follow orders to shoot civilians. The people of Palestine still wonder whether such findings will be used by the international community to implement policy aimed at ending the Israeli occupation, or whether it will be business as usual”
      Guardian UK.

    • 9
      0

      Jay Chambers,

      If the Jihadis are not against homosexuals, and allowed you to irrigate the colons of youngsters, just like the Catholic Priests and Buddhist Monks do to alter boys and Samaneras, novice monks, you would have taken a different position.

      Notwithstanding the above comment, the Wahhabi Salafies and Jihadis follow Satan, per prescient Hadith of Najd, Islamic Sources. Their initial attacks were on Shia, Sufi and Ahmed Muslims. The Wahhabis were nurtured by the British to cause chaos in the Ottoman Empire.

      On 21/4/ 1802 Twelve thousand Wahhabis raised Karabala in Iraq and killed 5,000 Shia Muslims.

      On 21/4:2019 Wahhabi clones, ISIS Tauheed Jamat Killed 350 in Sri Lanka. Indeed, they are Followers of Satan, per prescient Hadith of Najd, Islamic Sources.

      • 0
        0

        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/comments-policy-2

        • 0
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          Hey J C,
          I hear the Muslim kids in the East aren’t covering their faces any more. So you can go pick the best ones. Do please wear your best short skirt.

    • 0
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      What are you talking my friend ! this writer has worked tirelessly for over a decade to achieve this outcome and she is not done yet.

  • 10
    0

    MS Gunasekara@
    THANKS for the article.
    :
    This country is full of NITTAWO (sub human species) that would do anything without thinking twice..
    .
    My problem is even if we are all well aware of the facts related to who they really are. I have no doubt, Pohottuwa loyalists and several other men close to SLFP are behind these attacks. Not buddhists but Christians were hurt by the EASTER SUNDAY bombings, but their most ref. religious leader set examples begging the people not to instigate violence to the very same manner 83 july.
    But the very same religioius leader though sat with former Presidet, currently oppoleader of the parliament discussing not to harm anyone,which was just the hypocratic agenda of MR to show the masses, that he would never hurt anyone. Now with info being revealed nobody else, but ones close MR were behind the attacks.
    And this should be REVEALED to the nation by LANKEN INTELLIGENCE since then only people realize the TRUE COLOURS of the Mahinda Rajaakshe:

  • 11
    1

    Its pretty easy for the Police to find out from the many arrested who the hidden hand behind the racist rioters were. They must know by now. But we the people will never be told. It was certainly not the Sinhalese neighbor who savagely set flame to those shops and homes. But instead was a well orchestrated group put together soon after Easter who rode in from other areas. Funny how nobody has ever been convicted for such racial barbarism. Whats the catch there? MR’s regular messages for all to remain calm etc. is also a pointer.

    • 3
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      They were organized jobless mobs who were sent in to many areas to attack and terrorize Muslims, their homes, businesses, and Mosques.
      Those who were arrested were apparently released by the usual goon politicians, who obviously do not believe in law and order, and are racists.

  • 11
    7

    Sri Lanka discriminates against Tamil language while Sinhalese is the official language: Tamils suffer hardships htereby. Buddhism is given the foremost place relegating other religions. Sinhalese form the Security forces nearly 100%, even police in Tamil regions is bulked by Sinhalese. Almost all Government jobs are held by Sinhalese.

    During several riots and pogroms against Tamils and Muslims Sinhalese mobs were not prosecuted and justice was not done to the victims.

    The security forces committed genocide of about 150,000 Tamils at the end of the war with LTTE with impunity. Even today Security forces aid and abet Sinhalese rioters. Sinhalese Rioters are not considered terrorists.

    Sinhala youth that formed the JVP were the first terrorists. Sinhalese mobs that attacked, raped and killed Tamils are terrorists, because their goal was to terrorize the Tamils and plunder their properties.

    No solution or fight against terrorism with international help is going to solve the fundamental problem: Sri Lankan State does not provide equality for its minority citizens; it does not provide justice for the minorities; it does not provide equal opportunities for all ethnic groups.

    As long as Sri Lankan State enforces Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony, minority communities will continue to feel that the state does not represent their democratic aspirations for equality and justice, and its armed forces are anti-minorities.

    Switzerland and Singapore are shining examples where three communities are treated equally and justly and they prosper peacefully.

    Will Sinhalese leaders ever come up with the vision to build an inclusive, just nation for all its citizens? I have my grave doubts.

    • 0
      0

      This “Thiru” says
      The security forces committed genocide of about 150,000 Tamils at the end of the war with LTTE with impunity.
      So where are the bodies?
      If 150,000 were killed, there should be 600,000 injured as a rule of thumb.
      Where were they?
      300,000 people held as hostages were released by the army, but some of them were killed by the LTTE suicide zealots who didn’t want the people to take refuge.

    • 1
      0

      We have no brains at the top.
      We have no leadership at the top.
      We have no discipline at the top

  • 3
    1

    somass

    We know you are too busy selectively hitting Muslim houses, businesses, mosques, …………….

    Why don’t you visit this forum as well with your version of what has been happening and your part in the riots?

    • 1
      3

      I am busy drafting a new Constitution for Caliphate of Ealam. My pet project of creating a Homeland for Tamils (all Tamil speaking people irrespective of their religion caste or the date of arrival) is nearing completion. Your wise kid Abraham has said Wahabis killed Christians because of discrimination. This unity in purpose between Wahabis and Wellalas was the main stumbling block in my equation. It has now been achieved.
      Wahabi brothers still need your assistance in technology area. They need some cyanide capsules for their platoon of cubs soon to be demonstrated. Can you help?

      Soma

    • 2
      0

      Next they might come for Burghers!

  • 6
    2

    “This week’s rioters are terrorists too and the government must treat them as such. If the government fails to act with speed and firmness, if it allows the incendiaries to walk, again, another outburst of violence would be unavoidable.”

    It took more than six decades – starting with first riots against Tamils in 1956 – for a Sinhalese writer to realize this.

    Now many Sinhalese leaders say they don’t want another Black July, only because of the dire consequences they faced after Black July, not because they want to establish equality and justice for all including the minorities.

    Will the Government treat the Sinhalese mob rioters as terrorists, and the colluding security forces considered Sinhalese state terrorists? Rule of law must prevail, no matter who they are. Otherwise, you are setting precedents for more terrorists to emerge.

    It is good that Sinhalese realize the phenomenon of cause and effect now.

    • 0
      0

      Thiru,
      That will never happen. The arrested fellows will all be released without trial after a few weeks/months.
      Our politicians only counting votes and money. Let the country go to the dogs.

  • 8
    1

    Srilanka never had a break of violence since 1958. King Asoka gave up his power after showing of sufferings and deaths after his greed of power. Unfortunately in Srilanka bloodbath continues in the name of Lord Buddha and Power. Srilanka is failed nation of Buddhism or Lord Buddha failed to teach true Buddhism to Sinhala masses. There is no excuse for continue to say that this is the work of few thugs and Hooligans. Big powers behind this.

  • 7
    2

    “Extremism is fuelled by ignorance.

    This ignorance provides a fertile ground for extremists of all varieties.”

    These two sentences says it all!

    Well said, Tisaranee Gunasekara.

  • 7
    6

    There is no such thing as “Sinhala-Buddhist” fundamentalism. The author is confusing “Sinhala-Buddhism” with “Sinhala nationalism.” Dharmapala, Cyril Mathew, JR Jayawardene, etc. were not Buddhist. Their attitudes towards minorities are well-known. Sri Lanka is 100% secular by law; no one is forced to convert to Buddhism. Churches and mosques are not attacked in the name of Buddhism. Unlike in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, no one is executed for blasphemy. There are dozens of minorities, including Christians, in the government. If the author wishes to highlight “Sinhala nationalism”, that is fair game, but the “Sinhala-Buddhist” argument is rather old.

    • 6
      4

      Lester

      “There is no such thing as “Sinhala-Buddhist” fundamentalism.”

      There is no such thing as “Buddhist” fundamentalism however there is correlation between fascism and Sinhala/Buddhism. This new identity was concocted by the public racist Anagarika Homeless Dharmapala in order to alienate Sinhalese and Buddhist from rest of the people believing in his own Aryan superiority. Research in Genetics was not developed enough to counter his irrational madness.

      ” Unlike in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, no one is executed for blasphemy.”

      We are not too far away from practising blasphemy, recently “a post-modernist novelist has been arrested and charged with violating international human rights law in Sri Lanka for authoring a story about homosexuality and child abuse at a Buddhist temple -April 8, 2019 ucanews.com ” Some months ago a tourist was detained for having a Buddha tattoo on her shoulder and another was wiping her ass with a towel on which a Buddha face was printed.

      Sinhala Nationalism is acceptable if it is not linked to Buddhism as long as it doe not against other people.
      It is too difficult for you understand as you have been brainwashed and conditioned for too long you are unable to see the difference.

      • 3
        5

        Native Vedda,

        You must be very jealous of so-called “Sinhala-Buddhism” as it created a 2000 year old civilization with palaces in the sky while the “White Lawyers” were in the forests looking for leaves to do their daily chore. Regarding fascism, if S. Lanka went this route, there would be no minorities on the island. No minority has been deported from the island since Independence, not even the estate Tamils brought by the White Lawyers as cheap labor.

        • 6
          2

          Lester

          “You must be very jealous of so-called “Sinhala-Buddhism” as it created a 2000 year old civilization with palaces in the sky”

          I don’t care where White Lawyers eased themselves or how they wiped their bum. The entire civilisation was built with Indian ideas of technology, languages, religions, medicines, culture, culinary, ………………….

          “No minority has been deported from the island since Independence, not even the estate Tamils brought by the White Lawyers as cheap labor.”

          Sri Lanka forcibly repatriated 500,000 up country Tamil people under various agreement with India between 1948 and 1987. I haven’t got the number for the deported Pakistanis.

          Please remain an ignorant bigoted Sinhala/Buddhist fascist for the sake of the little islanders, who will definitely proper.

          • 1
            2

            Native Vedda,

            No, Sinhalese engineering is very unique. There are no inscriptions in the monuments written in any Indian language. The irrigation systems, tanks, reservoirs, etc. were built indigenously. Sri Lanka was self-sufficient in terms of rice cultivation long before the Europeans came. This was accomplished even in the dry zone, thanks to superior hydrological engineering. While the Black Plague and typhoid were wiping out the “White Lawyers” due to poor sanitation, Sri Lankans (Sinhalese) were bathing 600 feet above the ground.
            You are incorrect that the upcountry Tamils were “forcibly” repatriated. According to this agreement, ” 525,000 people would be granted Indian citizenship and repatriated to India over the course of 15 years along with their natural increase; 300,000 persons, along with their natural increase, would be given Sri Lankan citizenship; and the status of 150,000 remaining people would be subject to further negotiations between the two governments. ” At the end, “only 337,066 Indian citizens in addition to their natural increase of 125,385 had been repatriated.” Repatriation is different from expulsion. Expulsion is what Idi Amin did to the Indians in Kenya, or the LTTE to Muslims in Jaffna.
            Again, what is your fascination with Sinhala-Buddhists? Your own “civilization” never passed the hunter-gatherer stage (not even a written language!), it is amusing to see you try to disparage an actual, accomplished civilization.

            • 0
              0

              Correction: Uganda, not Kenya.

            • 2
              2

              Lester

              I do not take pride in calling you an imbecile.
              The inscriptions are in Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Arabic, Chinese, Persian, …………………

              “The irrigation systems, tanks, reservoirs, etc. were built indigenously.”

              The engineers were brought in from South India.

              “While the Black Plague and typhoid were wiping out the “White Lawyers” due to poor sanitation, Sri Lankans (Sinhalese) were bathing 600 feet above the ground.”

              My people have been having bath above 500 metres.

              in 1948, 525,000 people had already been made stateless by descendants of other Kallathonies, SenaNayakas, BandaraNayakkas, ………………. What are you talking about?

              “what is your fascination with Sinhala-Buddhists?”

              My worry is that some of the liberal Buddhists Sinhala speaking people are increasingly converting to Sinhala/Buddhist fascism just like the Muslim liberals converting to Muslamists.

              By the way what did your borrowed civilisation do to this island?
              You have developed a greed driven murderous culture.

              • 2
                1

                Native Vedda,

                “The inscriptions are in Pali, Sanskrit, Tamil, Arabic, Chinese, Persian, “

                Name the monument with Arabic, Chinese, or Persian inscriptions. Who are the engineers from “South India” and what historical record do you have to confirm this? None. There are descriptions in Mahavamsa of how various structures were built, including the materials used. There are also elaborate drawings of various structures, such as the water tank, in ancient Sinhala language books. Thank you for admitting you don’t know the difference between repatriation and expulsion. The EU is currently repatriating thousands of Muslims to former war zones.

                • 1
                  1

                  Lester

                  Study the arts of Sri Lanka they have the Indian influence the statues and even the half moons have rh same influence. We learnt this in grade 10 arts. Ayodhya for Sigiriya and so on.

                  Don’t talk bs about indigenous. Vijaya was not a yaksha, Naga or other he is an Indian who married an Indian princess and ruled SL YOUR OWN MAHAWAMSA says.

                  Native Veda;

                  Have you heard the donkeys and tigers argument about grass being green. So interestingly a donkey and a tiger were arguing about what colour is the grass. Donkey was so stubborn staring it’s BLUE. Tiger was upset because it was green. So they were judged by the king of jungle the Lion. Lion found tiger to be at fault and imprisoned him. Tiger was confused. He asked the judge isn’t the grass green. King said yes. So then why am I at fault and in prison. BECAUSE YOU ARGUED WITH A DONKEY

                  • 0
                    0

                    Roman,

                    There may be some Indian influence on the artistic style, that does not mean the style was copied 100% from the Indians, which is what NV claims. I suggest you read Prof E. W. Marasinghe, he has written many good books on the subject, especially in regards to the design of dagobas, where he clearly explains the style is indigenous. There was no need to bring South Indians as NV claims to build the structures. The Sinhalese were extremely capable engineers. They were familiar with woodworking, metals, and various handicrafts. How do you think they beat back so many invasions? How was Eelara defeated if South Indians were the “master builders?” If you go to Polonnaruwa or Anuradhapura you can see still see how the people there make various objects in the traditional style from 2000 years ago. Further, the irrigation system (still in existence) used for the paddy fields was unique. Only someone who was intimately familiar with the land and its climate could design such a system. The Sinhalese had their OWN civilization, complete with a verifiable dynastic history, unique written alphabet, language/literature, and form of Buddhism (Theravada). NV is frustrated because the Veddas did not accomplish any of these things, so he obsesses over a fat guy at Nanthikadal in 2009. The fat guy also wanted to re-write history albeit the “Eelam” version.

                    • 0
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                      Lester,
                      The trouble with you Sinhalese is that you are great at talking about your past, but have single-handedly ruined the country in 70 years. What anyway was so great about this “hydraulic civilisation ?
                      The fact is that at the time, with such a primitive system, it was possible to feed the small population, who WERE ALL FARMERS . So there was nothing great about it. Countries like Vietnam, or even Tamilnadu, produce much more with less water nowadays. The Sinhala religion is Indian, most Sinhala food is of Indian origin, the language is written in Indian characters, with about 80 % Indian words. The Sinhalese are more similar to Keralites than Keralites are similar to Punjabis.

                • 0
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                  Lester,
                  Which “ancient Sinhala book” has “elaborate drawings of various structures, such as the water tank, “?
                  Name and date please?

                  • 0
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                    Real Eagle,

                    That is like saying humans came out of Africa, so every human is therefore African. India has 1.3 billion people, yet the % that can speak, write, or understand Sinhala is negligible. The only connection to Sinhala is Sanskrit, again, in a 2001 census, 14135 Indians have registered Sanskrit as their native language. So the possibility of an Indian being able to understand Sinhala is 0.0000010873076923076925%. Now you say the Sinhala “religion” is Indian, this is also nonsense. Buddha rejected the Vedas completely, in doing so he also rejected caste and laid the basis for an entirely new philosophy. An Eelamist might say Buddha was an Indian, again that is irrelevant. The founders of Christianity were all Jews, yet (historically speaking), the divergence between these two is extreme. Theravada Buddhism, just like the Sinhala language, evolved entirely in Sri Lanka, therefore, claiming they are Indian copycats is futile. Similarly for other cultural aspects, such as cuisine and attire, even if certain aspects were “borrowed”, they evolved into something unique. Lastly I would point out that “India” is itself a misnomer. There was no “India” during Buddha’s time, only various kingdoms. Even today, Indians do not identify themselves as Indian first, but language first and then region (state).

                    • 0
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                      Lester,
                      Hairsplitting about whether “India” existed in the dim past or not will not get you out of the hole you have dug yourself by claiming some unique status for Lankan culture.
                      In the first place, a civilisation must produce unique art forms, literature and engineering at least. How could a set of farmers produce impressive database but not produce a single mathematician, philosopher, or even music?
                      All the above were present in the truly great Indian civilisation next door.
                      I note that you have chosen not to reply to oldcodger’s inquiry about the source of your “elaborate drawings of tanks”. Your silence is eloquent.

    • 4
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      There are a few Tamil Buddhists as well, both in Srilanka and India. Hence it is necessary to differentiate. The Buddhists in Myanmar too Murdered the Muslims and send them reeling down to Bangladesh.
      you can have laws and laws and laws. But are they being implemented
      justifiably. Perhaps you would have Seen the news in the CT about the reinstatement of the army commander who is charged for the murder of JOURNALISTS under pretext of Indispensability. What a joke?

  • 7
    1

    2013, the Year MR and co started preparation for the next election, thus formed BBS, and other state sponsored and funded monks, thugs thouheed jamath, and goons to neutralise the muslim votes by creating a nationalistic feeling among the Sinhalese buddhists, creation of the halal campaign, cow slaughtering all were part of it, MR and co wanted a momentum to continue until the elections.

    For their miscalculation or Chandrika’s shrewdness, MR lost, from that day onwards he is trying to capture the power back by different means.

    neutralising the Muslim votes is still a key part of the strategy and without it, he knows he can never win.

    So the saga continued, starting from Aluthgama in 2014, every year something was happening, burning of a clothing shop, kuragala, dress code etc. and their sponsored TV channels such as HIRU and DERANA was playing a key role brainwashing the gullible masses for this purpose. and the Muslim parties and ministers were also playing along to the tune. add to that the the geopolitics also set in.

    And the poor muslim masses were paying the price for no fault of theirs ever since. they dont know these goons are doing what they are doing

    So Thisaranee, from this you can see, for this to stop, either MR and co has to come back to power, or should perish with the whole progeny, if not this disease will never get cured.

    Someday in the future, people will realise in hindsight, although MR won the war, he destroyed this nation forever by destroying the social fabric of the society for his personal power hunger. Alas, death of nation!

  • 4
    5

    As it turned out, neither the IS nor its local adherents were necessary to turn Vesak into a season of violence. The Sinhalese managed the task on their own. You must be glad about that, Tisaranee because it gives you the excuse for you to roll out your incessant tirades against the Sinhalese and Buddhists for everything that goes wrong in this country.
    .
    The worst enemy of life, freedom and the common decencies is total anarchy; their second worst enemy is total efficiency. (Aldous Huxley)
    .
    And the third worst enemy is writers like Tisaranee. (Edwin)

    • 2
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      Edwin,

      What is wrong with the truth?
      What did The enlightened Buddha say about truth?

      • 1
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        What is wrong with the truth? The truth is that nothing is wrong with the Truth. What is wrong is that there are so many truths.
        .
        What did The enlightened Buddha say about truth? No idea. I was not there.

  • 5
    2

    Having read so much that has been written the past few days…thought of adding my little 2 cents worth….over the years I have come to the conclusion that the sinhala people are about the most in this world….they have no manners..go to a shop..or any other place..and you stand in the queue..they would jump in front of you….they are rude…look at the bus crews..chew betel spit out from the bus…mouths full of saliva see how they drive no concern for others..so they think they are the gods of the country..so what can any 1 expect from a load of uncouth barbarians who are tarzans only in groups ..alone they are frightened assholes….so all the violence stems from having a group…otherwise…they would not say boo to a ghost

  • 5
    12

    An article on ‘secularism and barbarism’ which has 2 references to the ISIS, 31 paragraphs of the Sinhala mobs and Sinhala Buddhist extremism, no mention of Wahhabism and a single mention of “Salafi influences”! Talk about objectivity, proportionality and balance!

    • 8
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      Dr DJ
      Which do you think that is the most imminent serious threat to democracy and secular values in this country?

    • 7
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      The subject is secularism and barbarism in Sri Lanka the land of the Sinhala Buddhists , Remember?
      Objectivity demands that we Sinhalese in our introspections must focus on ourselves.

      • 1
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        all the Hyenas got the opportunity to bash sinhala buddhists when it is UNP politicians who did it. why should not Ranil STEP down. Ranil had been a disaster to Sri lanka.

    • 13
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      Dayan:
      Safely ensconced in yet another position reserved for a Pandankaraya appointed by a major (unsuccessful?) Rajapaksa pandankaraya, isn’t it time you stopped pontificating to those who don’t have an atom of respect for your opportunistic efforts?

    • 4
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      Dr Dayan Jayatillaka,

      You know why? It is the history since independence, and the terrorism of Sinhala Buddhism.

      The references to ISIS, a new phenomenon due to Western Imperialism and Hegemony,. In Sri Lanka it is recent. Sinhala Buddhism and Sinhala Buddhist terrorism that was a catalyst for the fringe Satan Following fraction , the Wahhabis, to seek different solutions.

      The LTTE Tamils took the same course. However, the terrorists Wahhabies are only a minute fraction of the Muslims. They honed their terrorism by attacking Sufi Muslims, and scaled up to attack Christians and tourists.

    • 6
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      Dayan Jayathilake de Silva, the self-proclaimed “know-it-all political scientist/analyst” or rather a bogus/pseudo-scholar popularly known as the spin doctor talking about objectivity, proportionality and balance. This Pseudo-Patriot was once a minister in the Indian installed EPRLF government in the conjoined NE province. Then he became a mercenary for MR doing his dirty work in Paris and Geneva. An opportunist who keeps changing his principles according to situation. No wonder even after being a lapdog to MR, the past govt. understood him well and kicked him out of his job. A shameless person who keeps contradicting himself. He has completely lost his credibility. Once someone loses their integrity he/she should never be trusted. This man should never ever be trusted and should be kept at a distance. Whatever education he has, he always had a low mentality and a narrow mindedness, a disgusting personality. Dayan fits very well into the Sinhalese adage “Kanta hitunama ‘Kabaragoyath’ penne ‘Talagoya’ wagey” (When one feels like eating even the [poisonous] water monitor also appears like the [relished] ‘iguana’).

  • 18
    1

    We are historically a country full of frauds, thugs, criminals, drunkards and murderers? Sri Lanka never gave birth to philosophers, poets, principled human rights activists, politicians of rare caliber and ethic such as Mahatma Ghandhi, Buddha, Dalai Lama, Confucius, Aristotle, Shakespeare, Martin Luther King, Abraham Lincoln, Nelson Mandela…that other countries can be proud. Our history is filled with Saradiel (thug), Anagarika (Sinhala supremacist), Kasyapa (patricide), Dutugemunu (racist invader), JR (racist politician), Mahinda (political crook) and a citizenship that considers these same scum bags as their hero’s. We hide behind a heavy veil of pseudo Buddhism involving in rituals (much of which are copied from Dravidian Hindu practices) than the true wisdom and practice that Buddha preached. This pseudo Buddhist card is used as an ace to hide the fact that this citizenry is still actually uncivilized. Therefore, even when a change of governance occurs based on a change for explicit principles to eliminate corruption, good governance, human rights, justice to victims of state criminality, eliminating impunity and utter arrogance in the rule of law, recognizing the right of minority culture language identity religion and homelands….. one cannot expect much change because historically we have been a nation of bastards.

    • 8
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      To think that so called national pride is based on all of the above.
      You hit the nail on the head.

  • 3
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    Thank you Ms Gunasekera for taking up a topic that must be addressed and discussed. I like to highlight and agree with you on this statement “Today, Sri Lanka is facing an even greater danger, that of religious-overdetermination. If the government fails to rein in forces of religious extremism on all sides, the dream of a Lankan nation will be replaced by the nightmarish reality of a country plagued by violent religious fissures. Religious identity will trump every other alignment, starting with our common humanity.”
    This is significantly important because Asians are a deeply spiritual people. We seek a religion because our inner self seeks assistance to waken the spiritual in us. Hence it is the source to which we are driven to bring out the best of the human in us. It is the prime factor that defines the best in us. But often we get bogged down in the practices and external rituals of religion and become so exclusive and at times, like this, bring out the worst in us against the rest of humanity. It is this exclusive religiosity that becomes tied up with politics and most times the state too. The sad thing is that religious leaders too are often political and seek to have a hold on the practitioners of their religion and so seek out this separation ; to be apart as the chosen. This closeness to religion in our Asian region makes it a daunting task to separate state from religion. But we need to create one Lankan nation in our country where four “powerful”religions and their “followers” have contributed significantly in many ways on different spheres to give this nation a spirit of goodness, kindness, hospitality, warmth, security and compassion to each other, most times, but specially, in times of natural and man-made disasters. Till such time where we are spiritually and intellectually mature as a nation to separate religion from state let’s hold each other in love and equal respect as citizens of Mother Lanka.

  • 9
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    Spark. Must put honey in your mouth. Of the 22 million citizens, you are the only person who has understood this country properly. We are going on the reverse at high speed. I pity our future generations.

  • 9
    1

    Well said Spark, it covers everything what this nation is at the moment, need we say more!

    The leaders are only as good as the people of the country and vice versa, nothing more, nothing less.

  • 5
    1

    Sri Lanka in the 21st century – barbarians who think they are real Buddhists.

    The world knows all and no one is being fooled.

  • 5
    0

    DJ, looks like you have run out of alternate facts. People of your ilk has had a go and looks like you prefer picking on others than writing your usual shit. For you, picking on a word or a sentence or taking out of context are much easier than writing real facts. As a person who has never been factual, are you now unable to continue with your writings.

  • 5
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    Ms. TG, Brilliant – again!

    It takes a fine gentleman like Sarath de Alwis – to give a TOKKA on the head of Dr.DJ!
    As somebody pointed out – he (Dr.DJ) is a worthless Ph.D. propped up by a crooked and corrupt group of thugs and mobsters who ruled here not so long ago.
    Dr. DJ, please, please – crawl back under the rock you came out of – and stay there!

    Now to my point, why won’t the Sinhala Buddhists – who call themselves and pride themselves as Sinhala Buddhists, behave as Buddhists?

    The little Buddhism I learned tells me – in thought words and deed, these so-called Sinhala Buddhists, are violating every one of the basic beliefs and tenets of Buddhism.

    Now that fascism and other such horrible ideologies have been discussed here – would some learned person in this forum please tell me the connection between the Chakra in Buddhism and the Swastika?

  • 0
    0

    All the Protestant Journalists who collect the pay check from CPA are having afield day. Zaharan HAshim was a very good man and he saved Sinhala buddhists. As he had to provide some service for the money he got, becuse of the high pressure from the HANDLER, he blew up in Catholic and Evangelist churches but not because of hatred towards Sri lankan Catholics or christians. Finally, UNP politicians gave had a AL BAGDADI, so buddhists can be accused now.
    TG must know, even LTTE rump l.likes and appreciates Sri lankan Army. So Army is celebrating 10 years after their achievements and soldiers tomorrow. I am pretty sure, Dollar Kaakkaas go nuts.and would get panic attacks. I am waiting to see articles in CT about that.

  • 4
    0

    Tisaranee, as usual, reading your articles is intellectually stimulating and time well spent. Like some others at this time (e.g. Mangala Samaraweera), you have pointed to the 1972 Constitution as an important reason why we are stuck in this morass of religious paranoia. I wonder if we would find a leader who would actually advance secularism, without leaving behind such a harsh legacy as Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

  • 3
    0

    The Main reason for all these Problems, seems to be the Conversion of the Buddha’s Dhamma into a Religion! Religion is based on a Belief in a God/Gods!

    True Followers of the Buddha’s Dhamma, do not have to Compete with Religions!
    What a Civilised Country Sri Lanka would have been if Her people had followed the Buddha’s True Teaching!

    Humans seem to need a God/Gods to appeal to, in times of Trouble. They are too weak to sort out their troubles for themselves, as the Buddha Teaches them to!

    We have converted The Buddha into a God, so We can lay our Problems at His feet and ask for Guidance and Forgiveness, as Mainstream Religions do!

    I will leave you with Verse number 3 of the Dhammapada:-
    “‘He was Angry with me, he Attacked me, he Defeated me’ – Those who Dwell on such Thoughts, will Never be Free from Hatred”!

  • 0
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  • 0
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    “If the government fails to rein in forces of religious extremism on all sides…”

    There is very little religious extremism in Sri Lanka at the moment. Yes, sometimes monks are involved in political protests, but there is no monk in the Parliament enacting laws. However, there WILL be extremism from the Muslim side if demographic trends continue. This is because they will come into competition with the majority for scarce resources, such as land. The LTTE “solved” this problem by evicting Muslims from all areas under its control. The Sri Lankan government, though deficient in other areas, understands this issue on some level and so is pursuing various policies of colonization. In my opinion, the scale of colonization needs to increase dramatically, not only for economic, but security reasons as well. As we know, certain Muslim ministers were facilitating militant training camps in vast areas of land under their control. The Tamils had a problem with religious extremism. It was called CASTE. Ironically, it was the LTTE that shattered this delusion, at the expense of a civil war and exodus of intellectuals from the island. To restate my original point: the country has a severe economic problem, not a religious one. If the economy does not improve, and demographic trends continue, there will be some negative correlation that may then result in violence with religious overtones.

  • 2
    0

    First They came for the socialist, I did nothing, because I am not a Socialist

    Then they came for the Trade Unionist, I did nothing, because I am not a trade unionist

    Then they came for rh Jews, I did nothing, because I was not a Jew

    Then they came for me, there was no one

    Pastor Martin Niomoller

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