By Hilmy Ahamed –
One year in to Yahapalanaya, the dice has been cast for the renewal of the hostile hate campaign of the Rajapaksa era with the spraying of graffiti “Sinha Le” on the gate of a Muslim owned residence in Nugegoda. This was followed by a violent attack on Muslims in Wellampitiya that injured five. Three were hospitalized with serious injuries. It is rumored that a lady died of a heart attack before she could be taken to hospital, in the mêlée. This has not been reported to the police nor the mainstream media carry it.
Exactly a year ago, we saw the exit of Mahinda Rajapaksa from the Presidency through a “silent” revolution that surprised even the biggest optimist. Many attributed the war winning President’s defeat to the unprecedented hate campaign that was carried out by some Buddhist extremists led by the Bodu Bala Sena. Mahinda Rajapaksa, as President and Minister of Defence failed to control this onslaught on the Muslim and evangelical Christian communities. The President was also accused of promoting a divide and rule policy amongst the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim communities, so that he could fragment the minority votes and harness the majority Buddhist vote as the guardian of Buddhist hegemony and thereby keep himself at the helm of power for the rest of his life, or until one of his own sons could succeed him. The strategy of retaining power within the family was mainly due to the large-scale corruption, which was assumed to have been committed by the President and his siblings. This of course has not been proven with all the investigations that have been undertaken during the last 365 days. Little did Mahinda Rajapaksa realize that the combined opposition of the minorities towards his regime would send him packing to Medamulana due to his suspected bias towards the hate campaign of the Bodu Bala Sena and other extremists Buddhists.
Today, politically motivated groups alleged to be close to the former regime have unleashed a new wave of hate and racism under the “Sinha Le” label. They are determined to create divisions amongst the different communities once more and the provocations of the “Sinha Le” group are clear evidence of the renewed hate campaign on the Muslims. The “Sinha Le” group is suspected of attempting to provoke the Muslims to retaliate so that their ultimate objective of causing a major island wide communal riot could be achieved. The Muslims, the Government and the rest of the citizens should take necessary steps to defuse this threat.
The inventors of the “Sinha Le” brand is unknown, with Bodu Bala Sena claiming that they conceived this in 2014, yet two monks close to the Mahinda Rajapaksa’s campaign in Kurunegala are suspected of leading the current campaign. There is also evidence on social media that discarded SLFP racist political elements of the Rajapaksa camp are encouraging this to revive their political campaign to divide the communities that could bring Sinhala chauvinists back into power.
The Sirisena-Wickremesinghe good governance government that came to power mainly through the minority vote will be held responsible if this assault on the Muslim and other minority communities are allowed to fester, hence there is an urgent need to address this as a priority security issue.
Adding fuel to this fire, Government officials are now claiming that there is a possible threat by international terrorists from ISIS or Daesh, the fascist terrorist group which claims to be Islamic. The All Ceylon Jaamiyathul Ulema, the council of Muslim theologians in Sri Lanka and several other Muslim civil society organizations have unequivocally rejected the ISIS or Daesh as an Islamic organisation and has condemned them as a threat to Muslims around the world. It is indeed worrying that state officials continue to link this un-Islamic entity to Muslims in Sri Lanka due to some online activity by sharing , taging and commenting online that could be construed as being sympathetic to the ISIS cause, but the ground situation is that there is no support for any form of terrorism from the Muslims. The lack of knowledge and novelty of online and social media could be a reason for them to share, tag and indulgence in discussions online. ISIS has also been very clever in presenting themselves as saviors of Muslims when there is enough evidence otherwise. (See attached photo)
It is a well-known fact that a Muslim, Mohamed Muhsin Sharhaz Nilam (37) (known within ISIS as Abu Shuraih Sailania), was killed in an airstrike on July 12. 2015. This does not make all Muslims sympathizers of ISIS nor do the Muslims have any direct link with any terror groups. The Muslims have been a peaceful patriotic community and continued to live in Sri Lanka as loyal citizens. The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam ethnically cleansed the Muslim population of the Northern province in 1990 for refusing to join the Eelam quest of the Tamil separatists.
Its time that all Sri Lankans commit themselves to work towards the prosperity of our nation through true reconciliation. Towards this, the Government of President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe should ensure that these racial extremists are brought before the law for inciting hate and communal threats. Failure to do so would mean that a lot of “Sinha Le”, “Marraka Le” would be shed and Sri Lanka could go back to its isolation by the international community.