By Aman Faris –
None of the Muslim leaders of yore like T.B. Jayah or Badi-ud-Din Mahmud or Dr. Khaleel would have ever imagined that there would ever be a situation where there would be no Muslim representation from the UNP in parliament from the Colombo district. But that’s exactly what has happened. They had cultivated their political philosophy and fined tuned it as time went by or when new situations demanded course corrections hoping the coming generations would follow their examples. But as matters stand today, the fact remains that there are no Muslims from the UNP from the Colombo district in parliament.
The reason for this is not because the UNP did not have Muslim candidates in the fray, but because they were so hopeless and stained with corruption or with stigmas like being more close to casinos than mosques that the disgusted Muslim decided to vote for candidates from other communities. Two of those who gained quite a lot form this situation were Wijedasa Rajapaksa and Ravi Karunanayake. As a matter of fact Mufti Rizvie the head of the All Ceylon Jamayathul Ulema (ACJU) openly supported a SLFP non Muslim politician who had crossed over from the UNP facing the harsh criticism of the governing ‘UPFA Muslims’ as well as from Muslims among the opposition. Whether the mufti’s stand was right or wrong is a different matter. The fact remains he shouldn’t have dabbled in politics. One thing is sure, nobody can accuse Muslims of voting on the basis of religious identity never mind the status of the candidate. By and large Muslims have identified themselves with the UNP and the proclivity stands still even to this day.
Rizvi mufthi’s stand in open support of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime did not prevent his (Rajapaksa’s) supporters from attacking mosques or carrying slanderous campaigns against Muslims. Muslims remember with shock and sadness how a procession led by a Buddhist monk carried an ‘effigy’ of Allah with a pig’s picture. The police stood by and did sweet nothing. Neither did the president or his government.
Why should Muslims vote for the UPFA?
Over the years the UPFA, or its main component the SLFP, has always banked on xenophobia to garner the votes of the Sinhala people seeing that they are in the majority and the way to success and power is to kindle the latent racial tendencies prevalent among some Sinhalese. S.W.R.D Bandaranaike started it all by starting his racial politics that favored the Sinhalese Buddhist over and above other communities in Sri Lanka, especially the Tamils.
In recent times Muslims have seen a shrine in Anuradhapura been destroyed by a mob led by Buddhist priests. Once again the police reduced themselves to spectators as did the government.
In the east Muslim lands have been expropriated by the government without even a by your leave. During the Provincial Council elections there the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) led by Rauf Hakeem cited these incidents and generally gave the impression to the voters that the party would quit the government because of its racist policies if it won a substantial number of seats. Other communities including sections of Sinhalese Buddhists fed up with the regime had upped their expectations and had banked their hopes on Rauf Hakeem and his party. Would the party, they wondered, become a national party as its late leader M.H.M. Ashraf had said it would. The SLMC won a considerable amount of seats, beating even the government of which it is a part. But Rauf Hakeem did a volte face, much to the anguish of all those who thought they saw a national leader emerging in him. Remember Rauf Hakeem is a minister in Mahinda Rajapaksa’s largest cabinet in the world and continues to be one. This election too he has decided to contest separately. We can expect the same gyrations from him once again giving false hopes to the people who continue to suffer the exorbitant costs of living and watching the government members and their relatives revel in ill gotten opulence. Some of their children enjoy night races in the city and while they are at it the roads to and in the city are closed for the plebeians like you and I.
Memories are short in these ‘breaking news’ days. News has a shelf life now. But how can Muslims or anybody else forget the ‘Grease Yakkas’ that terrorized Muslim areas all over the country? And that too during the Ramadan season? The government did not lift a finger to inquire into the terror unleashed by the ‘Grease Yakkas”. How could it when it is public knowledge the ‘Grease Yakkas’ were military men, their own ‘war heroes’?
Can Muslims forget the attacks on Muslim owned establishments like the attack on ‘Fashion Bug’? Can Muslims forget how the case was buried when the owners were asked to ‘withdraw’ the case against the Buddhist monks who lead and indeed carried out attacks of violence? This was a police case and under no circumstances can the victim of violence can forgive or withdraw the case under the law.
While we are at it, can we ask Muslims if they can forget the ‘halaal’ issue that caused so much heartburn among Muslims? So much so, there was talk of ‘teaching Muslims a lesson’ now that the ‘great lion race’ had defeated the Tamils. It was time to subjugate Muslims to serve as servants to Sinhala Buddhist chauvinism. The talk then was the UPFA government created the halaal controversy to divert attention from the core issues confronting the nation. And now the UPFA governments’ spin doctors, like Rajpal Abeynaike of the Daily News, are crying that the ‘Suddhas’ are at it again at Geneva. So give your vote to the savior of the race and the defender of the faith, President Mahinda Rajapaksa, so as to give him the strength he needs to defeat yet another ‘international conspiracy’ against the only Sinhala Buddhist country in the world and also to convey the message that it’s alright to commit war crimes as long as the victims are from the ‘other’ communities. If the victims were from the Sinhala Buddhists, as virtually all of them were in 1989/90 violence, our President Mahinda Rajapaksa did a bolt to Geneva to betray the country to the international community!
More recently the government, on the request of its Bodu Bala Sena demolished buildings at the site of Daftar Jailani in Balangoda. Sure there are Muslims who do not acknowledge such shrines, but they must realise that an attack on one is an attack on all. A leading prominent ‘UPFA/SLFP Muslim’ said that this would be done only over his dead body. He’s still alive and very much with the government.
As if this is not enough of conviction for Muslims they must bear in mind the plight of the chief prelate of the Mahiyangana Mahaweli Aramya Venerable Watareka Vijitha Thera who had complained to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) of death by the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) because he spoke of Muslims as being a part and parcel of the country at an Iftar ceremony at a mosque in his area. The HRCSL rejected his complaint and even the police seem to negligent of their duties.
The Last Straw?