23 September, 2020

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Sleepwalking In To An Apocalypse: The Gathering Storm Of Sinhalese – Muslim Strife

By Boz –

The Sinhalese-Muslim race riots of 1915 were sparked off by a minor incident but would later snowball in to widespread altercations similarly, what we are seeing  now, culmination of what was simmering beneath surface for the last twenty years ,might very well set the stage for yet another bout of racially motivated violence, implications of which would be far worse than what we had gone through for the last 30 years.

The Roots

After the Independence the relations between Muslims and Sinhalese had been largely cordial, and the Muslims were affiliated with either of two main Sinhalese political parties. What changed this was the LTTE factor, the ethnic cleansing of Muslims in Jaffna and savage attacks against Muslims civilians in the East during the late 1980 s. The need for a specifically Muslim political force to address the grievances of Muslims was felt and SLMC was founded with its leader, late Mr. Ashraff gaining star status as a king maker in the mercurial Sri Lankan political scene by the mid 1990 s. Mr. Ashraff and the SLMC gained considerable clout in the East and then came the allegations of bulldozing Deegawaapi and Muslim expansionism in the areas belonging to the ancient Sinhala civilization in the East . One of the most vociferous critics on this count was the late Ven. Soma . Gradually the general Sinhala Buddhist population began to view SLMC and by extension Muslims with apprehension

Social Media Influence

In the recent past websites began to appear targeting Islam, as well as its adherents, slandering them in foulest terms. Allegedly formulated as response to certain Islamic extremist websites, these blogs were inspired by Faithfreedom.com of one Ali Sina, an anti-Islamic activist operating out from the US. Add to this in social media , especially in the Facebook, where Sri Lankans have a rather large presence , pages such as Sorry.com with their chilling graphics and slanderous articles grew in prominence by the day, creating vitriolic anti Muslim sentiments among the Sinhalese, especially in those belonging to the middle class.

Further there are appeals to boycott popular businesses such as No Limit belonging to Muslims made via Facebook and mass circulation e-mails.

The Halal Issue

Another topic that gained prominence recently was the anti Halal campaign where  Non Muslims were asked  to boycott Halal products. There are allegations from some quarters that large sums paid to obtain Halal certificate are then being used to fund Muslim expansionism including building of mosques and therefore non-Muslims do not have contribute to Halal certificate costs which are included in to the product price. While ACJU, responsible for issuing Halal certificate ,clarified their stance in a recent statement, the campaign lingers, increasingly becoming popular among Sinhalese moderates as well.

Law College Entrance Exam controversy

There was a recent allegation that the Law College Entrance exam was rigged in favor of Muslim students. Comparisons with the results of the previous years showed an abnormal propensity towards Muslim students who sat for the exam in both English and Tamil streams. Further three top places went to Muslim students as well. Police is now investigating whether the question paper was leaked through a certain tuition class in Wellawatte. This consequently motivated many Sinhalese moderates to reconsider their position vis-à-vis alleged Islamic threat.

Bodu Bala Senaa

Bodu Bala Senaa is a recent manifestation modeled on Shiv Sena of India, comprised of ultra nationalist Buddhist monks and lay people. The stated aim of the this organization is to cleanse the Buddhism in Sri Lanka of what it names as charlatans and also to act as a bulwark against “threats” against Sinhala Buddhist polity. At times it acts as a vigilante force ,a religious police. Bodu Bala Senaa too is instrumental in fomenting anti Islamic sentiment citing expansionist fears.

The Usual Suspects

Like Captain Louis Renault, various analysts are trying to round up the usual suspects of this latest bout of racialism. Some, if not all, liberal and even Muslim commentators lay the blame squarely at the feet of the ruling party. According to them the Government is directly responsible for these actions by creating a diversion for the majority Sinahlese Buddhists from economic and political woes contributing to the unpopularity of the government. However for obvious reasons this theory looks hollow, for the government would be shooting itself on foot if it is indeed promoting anti Muslim sentiments at the expense of the national unity as, facing an uphill battle come March at the UNHRC it needs the votes of Islamic nations like the last time, cheap oil from Iran as well as it has to maintain the cash cow of foreign remittances, lion’s share of which comes from the emigrant workers in the Middle East region. Some pro-Government analysts claim that this is all a Western conspiracy to create divisions and paving the way for another Syria. This too looks far fetched given geo political equations .

However there might be some Sinhalese businessman fearful of Muslim dominance in retail clothing trade behind the calls for boycott of Muslim businesses. Closest to what we are seeing in Sri Lanka today is the anti Semitism in the Europe of last century that paved the way for racial stereotypes and catastrophe. However if the present trend is not arrested we can look forward to further blood letting and international stigmatization and grave economic and social consequences.

Therefore it’s incumbent upon government to look in to the grievances of both Muslims and Buddhists and take corrective actions if any injustices were occurred  so there would be no more slogans for religious fanatics like Bodu Bala Senaa or the Jihadists. Further the Government should aggressively pursue offenders who strive to drive a wedge between communities via social media and e-mail campaigns .

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EObblPAxhyM

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Latest comments

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    Harbi – It is a fact many Tamils also lost by way of eviction, pressure and intimidation their generations-old properties in the East – starting from the Gal Oya-Inginiyagala areas during the mid-1950s which continued invariably till now. Your comment confirms this.
    Together with those Muslims who lost theirs in the North in the 1990s and Sinhalese in the NEP, the State must come to the aid of all these people affected and their successors where claims can be established.

    While I wish to share some of your other views, let us make sure these in no way cause distress or potential harm to peaceful Muslims who have been living in their own in harmony and without let to others.

    Senguttuvan

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    Dear all respected readers/writers and stupid racist rascals,

    It is very sad to see how some of you think and act upon it, I wouldn’t call u a Buddhist coz ur not a follower of LORD Buddah’s teaching nor a Srilankan since some of you are the key reasons to all major problems.

    Let me Introduce myself before I write too much about how Disgusted I feel for some of your comments.

    I’m a proud Muslim trying to learn more about Islam and follow it according to its teachings not what you’ve picke up from some of the stupid websites.

    Anyways I studied in a Sinhala school inc Buddism as a subject and grow up in a very much Sinhala area with my friends with the food my Sinhala mothers used to make.

    I still use some of my Sinhala friends names as my passwords and they appreciate us and boned in as brothers from a one womb, please don’t snatch it away just coz u were born in a rural village some where, I beg you. Come here in England to see how we love each other and live together and eat from one plate and sleep in the same bed and even wear the same clothes some times so please do not separate us just coz u’ve been brain washed by a Moulavi or a Thera they won’t be any good to non of our religion nor will to our Country just a waste of space.

    I’ve helped so many of my Sinhalese brothers in my life we Muslims aren’t selffish as you think and We have two akka’s who is looking after my family back home come and meet them if you want to calm your bloody thirst of racism down a bit, I’ve even built a house for her thought worth mentioning and Didi it for Allah’s sake not to impress you villagers.

    I would be stupid to come to a conclusion that all the Sinhalese would be a racist just coz of a villager comments on my religion or fellow Muslims on a website or a paper.

    Like I mentioned some of you guys are properly brained washed by some so called religious leaders or followers and all them go to hell irrespectively what race they might be coz they shatters our peace and coexistence amount us.

    So please get outa this mess and think you could be a better human and not to pin point on others. I’m sure all of us as Sri Lankan have better things to deal with some of our children/elders are dying hunger, no shelters to live on, some childrens love to be educates yet can’t effort it, some of us suffers from various diseases SO PLEASE focus on these things and spend your valuable time in a valuable cause not deviding people and making unnecessary troubles.

    So please one more time don’t make our future a dark one from your thoughts and words coz it would be too late to regret and words can hurt deep inside than any other physical forses.

    God bless all of you and sorry If I’m picked anyone personally out of anger coz of your comment and offended you.

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      Unfortunately, everyone isnt as decent as you. Be well.

  • 0
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    our country suffered for three decades of war.Sinhalese Tamils Muslims all immensely suffered due to the war. It is the responsibility of every citizen of this Country to avoid a calamity like this again.

    Our Buddhist extremist should be aware of the following facts

    The reason for the success of NO LIMIT and some other muslim organisations is that they don’t borrow from Banks for interest. they built up business from small scale using their own money.They don’t rob sinhalese to do their business.
    Most of the muslims don’t take liquor and waste their money.

    What is Halal? 1. Meat items – to ensure that the animal is slaughtered according to Shria 2. non meat items – to ensure that ingredients included in the product are most of the cases from vegetable origin. So, meat items – KFC etc are halal or not is not relevant for Buddhists since anyway thy cannot eat them. in the case of None meat items Buddhists are also protected by Halal procedure due to insistance of vegetable origin.

    If muslim population grows faster, that means we have become slower. Only way to correct this is for Buddhists to have more babies.

    This is not 1915. We are in a sophisticated communication age. If we create another communal strife the consequenses cannot be imagined

    Our three wheelers, trains, Busses run on Arab oil.

    If a sinhala muslim strife is created it will take much much larger dimension than tamil issue

    I advise my sinhalese friends not to take things lightly and fuel racism in the Country.

    Bandara

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