25 June, 2022


SLMC – Liability On The Muslim Community

By Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Latheef Farook

Muslims are a deeply wounded community today. They are ignored by successive governments, betrayed by their own politicians and exploited by all to suit their agendas. The selfish politics of the main Muslim political party Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) and it are more than half a dozen splinter groups have brought nothing but disaster.

As a result Muslims are disgusted with their politicians. They are in the same camp with Sinhala racist groups which unleashed violence against Muslims.

For the past four years these racists, often led by Buddhist monks, have undertaken a very well planned and organized vicious and shameful campaign attacking mosques and religious schools, Muslim women’s dress code, food and almost every other aspect of their life often under the watchful eyes of security forces.

In the process they killed, looted and destroyed properties under a meticulously planned and executed to military precision attack on Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala Muslims. Overnight Muslims in the area were made penniless turning once wealthy Muslims who fed others to stretch their hands for food.

According to United Nations sources there were around 350 attacks on Muslims.

As if these atrocities were not enough Myanmar’s fascist monk Ashin Wirathu, responsible for killing thousands of innocent Rohingya Muslims, was brought in with a reception usually meant for heads of states.

What better way to humiliate the Muslims already wounded by attacks on them? Now the unanswered question is why these atrocities on Muslims? Did they ask for a separate?

Hakeem 1 colombotelegraphHowever Muslim community was quick to realize that this violence was by a few hundreds of people suspected to have been trained by Israel’s Mossad and funded through Norway as part of the Zionist global campaign against Islam and Islam. The tragedy is the government turning blind eyes to these crimes against a community.

Despite all these naked atrocities SLMC continue to cling on to the government supported by BBS and other Sinhala racist elements. This included Udaya Gammanpila, known for his anti Muslim mindset and shameless prediction that an attack on Muslims in 2015 is inevitable to commemorate the 1915 Sinhala Muslims riots

Under the circumstance all what the Muslim community could expect from Muslim parliamentarians is to leave the government if they cannot stop this lawlessness. However they refuse to do so.

As a result Muslim politicians have become irrelevant. In fact this has been the more than a quarter century history of SLMC.

For example, when almost a quarter century ago M.H.M. Ashraff first mooted the idea of forming a separate political party for Muslims, many Muslims including parliamentarians, professionals and others, advised him to either give up the idea or confine the proposed political party to the east .

They warned him that an island-wide Muslim party had all the potentials to harm good relations between Sinhalese and Muslims in the rest of the country, just as it happened later as seen by the rising Sinhalese chauvinism.

Justifying their warnings they explained that Muslims live in small numbers in peace and harmony with their Sinhalese neighbors in hundreds of villages and an all-island Muslim political party raising Islamic slogans, may put all Muslims into one communal camp and disturb their good relations with the Sinhalese community, especially with Sinhalese hardliners awaiting an opportunity to raise a communal cry.

However all these saner advices he went ahead and established the Muslim Congress as an island-wide political party.

Some elements in the Muslim community in the south, ignored and insulted by the major national political parties, too viewed the SLMC with sympathy in the hope of a forum to highlight their problems without antagonizing the major political parties in the south.

It was around this time that the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi forcefully thrusted the Indo-Lanka Accord on 29 July 1987 down the throat of Sri Lanka .

The Indo-Lanka Accord paved the way for the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces and the establishment of provincial councils. It was also announced that the elections to these provincial councils were to be held in November 1988. But the LTTE refused to participate. Yet the Indian government did everything possible to ensure that Tamil militants and political parties contested the elections.

Several senior politicians from the area said, that the Indian High Commission in Colombo handed over cash donations to Tamil militants and the SLMC. This was revealed in the book, “Tigers of Sri Lanka – From Boys to Geurrillas” (Page 289, second paragraph, second Edition, New Delhi) by M.R. Narayan Swamy. Except the LTTE most Tamil militant groups and the SLMC contested the provincial council elections for the East.

The election was fought on bitter and destructive communal lines and both Tamil militants and the SLMC were fully responsible for dividing the two communities and the price innocent people from the two communities were made to pay later.

Meanwhile Muslims in the East looked up to SLMC as the political force that could bring salvation to them. The SLMC slogans were “Islam” and “Muslims” and SLMC leader Ashraff claimed that the Holy Quran and Hadees were the very basis of his party.

He stated in the parliament on 23rd March 1989 that (Vol 55. No 7 and pages 993-1013): “In the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress we have our own principles and our vision is very clear. The Holy Quran and the supreme life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) are the guidelines of our party”.

In the 1988 presidential elections, the SLMC agreed to support the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, but at the eleventh hour this agreement was abandoned, in violation of Islamic teachings, and the SLMC supported the UNP candidate, causing deep disappointment within the SLFP circles. Muslims, especially those in the south, were also shocked and disappointed.

This decision considerably dented the credibility and the integrity of the Muslim Congress as well as the community, which had produced leaders of impeccable integrity and were known for their loyalty to their political parties.

One should not forget that this policy, as expected, won the wrath of the SLFP towards the Muslim community that had nothing to do with this decision. Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike and her Sri Lankan Freedom Party had every reason to question the policies of the SLMC that, by then, had emerged as a one-man show. Furious Muslims in Colombo and other areas blamed the SLMC for harming their relations with the majority Sinhalese community. There were speculations that Ashraff was bought over by the UNP.

Six years later, during the 1994 elections the SLMC tied up with the SLFP-led Peoples’ Alliance [PA], under the leadership of then Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga.

Around this time, knowledgeable Muslims began losing faith in the SLMC that built up an image as a political party by simply joining the winning side to suit its leader’s personal agenda. There were many who started to openly criticize the SLMC, stating that the community’s interest would have been better served if the SLMC has not come to the political scene and allowed the Muslims to be in different political parties and work together with the other communities.

In the 1994 elections, the SLMC won seven seats and it so happened that the Peoples’ Alliance also needed seven seats to form the government. Thus, the SLMC seats became indispensable. Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga formed the UPFA Government, with SLMC support, providing the SLMC with an unprecedented bargaining power and influence that was not to the liking of the majority community, especially the hardliners.

In his hour of unprecedented glory, Ashraff failed to read the mood of the majority community and his irresponsible statements irritated many. For example, in an egotistic statement, Ashraff publicly claimed that the “SLMC has emerged as the kingmaker and without its support the government could not be formed”. This unwarranted statement also angered many Muslims.

Muslims who were attracted by his Islamic slogans and supported him began to question the credibility of these slogans especially in the context of his lifestyle as minister. The situation deteriorated so much that a large number of senior members of the SLMC started distancing themselves from the party turning the SLMC into yet another political party in the country.

Leadership Crisis

Ashraff’s sudden death triggered off the inevitable leadership crisis within the party which was thrown into doldrums with no one groomed for leadership. The leadership struggle was confined to Rauf Hakeem and Mrs. Ferial Ashraff.

According to some in the SLMC circle, President Chandrika Kumaratunga exploited the confusion in the SLMC to her own advantage by making Mrs. Ferial a minister leading the NUA.

Subsequently both Rauf fHakeem as the SLMC leader and Mrs. Ferial Ashraff as the NUA leader were in the cabinet holding ministerial portfolios. There was an invisible power struggle that started brewing between the two at party and ministerial levels, causing further divisions and much disillusionment to the SLMC members.

While this unseen power struggle was underway there was confusion everywhere. In the midst came the anti-Muslim riots at Mawanella. President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s handling of the Mawanella riot strained relations between the government and the SLMC. This growing split ended up with Rauff Hakeem leaving the government and crossing over to the opposition together with A.L.M. Athaulla and few others. He later signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UNP. But Mrs. Ferial Ashraf remained in the PA government as minister leading the NUA.

In the subsequent 2001 general elections, the UNP won and Rauff Hakeem was made Minister of Ports and Shipping, Muslim Religious Affairs, Eastern Development and Rehabilitation. Some senior SLMC members led by Athaullah accused Rauff Hakeem of grabbing all ministries for himself and not sharing it with them.

This triggered off yet another power struggle within the SLMC which  ended up in the second split. Athaullah formed his own party – All Ceylon Muslim Congress Ashraff Group.

Meanwhile in the east the Muslims, especially professionals and others were enraged with Rauff Hakeem for his failure to protect the interest of Muslims in the Ceasefire Agreement, and with Ranil Wickremaeinghe for ignoring the Muslim interests when he signed the CFA in February 2002. Muslims were also seething with anger with the Wickremesinghe government for turning a blind eye to LTTE atrocities against them. Under such circumstances, they questioned, why did the SLMC, supposed to be working for the interest of Muslims, join Ranil Wickremesinghe?

In the subsequent general elections, the SLMC contested as three different factions- Rauf Hakeem with the UNP, the National Unity Alliance led by Mrs. Ferial aligned with the PA and the third, led by N.M. Shaheed, one of the deputy leaders of the Muslim Congress. Ranil Wickremesinghe’s government was defeated and the People’s Alliance led by Mrs. Kumaratunga was elected and Mrs. Ferial, Rishard Bathiudeen, Athaulla, Cegu Issadeen, Anver Ismail, Nagib A Majed, Ameer Ali were all made ministers .

Rauff Hakeem and his team ended up in the opposition.

Almost a year later there appeared the fourth splinter group led by Hafiz Nazeer Ahmed, the Director of SLMC International Affairs division during the time of Ashraff, forming his own political party – Democratic Unity Alliance [DUA].

Once again dissension started brewing within the party after the Pottuvil massacre. Then came LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham’s death and Rauff Hakeem’s condolence message that infuriated the Muslims further. Into this mess, losing whatever faith left within the community, the SLMC once again joined the Peoples Alliance government in early 2007 and Rauff Hakeem was made Minister of Posts and Telecommunications.

On the eve of joining the government, on 28 January 2007, there were heated discussions at a politburo meeting on whether to join the government or not. There was no invitation but some SLMC members invited themselves by initiating the move to join the government, and again, not to serve the community but to look after themselves.

They negotiated, before joining the government, not as a bloc but as individuals and groups and got ministerial portfolios and associated perks. By now the Sinhala leadership has come to know that Muslim politicians could be manipulated and the community could be made voiceless. This is happening even now.

This happened at a time when the community faced burning issues in the east such as land grabbing, colonization of Muslim-owned lands with Sinhalese brought in from outside, the longstanding problems of northern Muslims in refugee camps in Puttalam and other such issues.

In the midst Rishard Bathiudeen left the SLMC and started his own party paving the way for the sixth division.

The efforts of many Muslim individuals and organizations to bring these Muslim parliamentarians, especially those from the East, together to jointly take some measures to deal with issues that threatened the livelihood of Mutur Muslims proved futile.

They were also silent when Muslim businessmen and others were kidnapped for ransom. The question raised at all Muslim gatherings was “what are these Muslim parliamentarians doing? Can’t they get up and raise the plight of Muslim businessmen? Whom are they working for?”. It was only Rauff Hakeem who raised the question of abductions of Muslim businessmen while other Muslim parliamentarians virtually abandoned the community to please the government.

The SLMC is not like any other party. It came with the slogan of Islam and, attracted by these slogans, Muslims voted in large numbers in the hope of guidance to the community. Those who voted for the SLMC expected impeccable moral principles and integrity, as emphasized by Islam, from their leadership. In fact the SLMC, which claims that its constitution is based on the Holy Quran and Hadees, should have set an example to other national parties for honesty, integrity, moral character, dedicated services and all such values which their slogan, “Islam” propounds.

However to the contrary the SLMS today, Known for allegations of corruption and opportunism, greed for power and positions, factional fighting, shameful scandals and the tendency to betray their own colleagues for positions, has ended up as the mythical Greek Tragedy

As a result the SLMC has become an unfortunate liability on the community.

This was the sorry state of affairs that Muslim politicians have brought upon the community especially at a time when nationalists and neo-nationalists from the majority community in the government are hell-bent on implementing their agendas against the Muslim community.

The general feeling among the Muslims is that the SLMC is today a liability.

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Latest comments

  • 2

    every time the peace talks came between LTTE and government
    Muslim politicians disturb the talk as the want
    The solution too at that time the Muslims leaders
    Forgot they also tamil speaking minority
    Now after 2009 they are paying the prize
    Still Muslim leaders refuse accept the mistake
    And still hanging with the government
    Already extreme monks are going against Muslims
    With hidden support of the government
    Very soon they will pay the prize

    • 2

      Latheef Farook.

      “Forgot they also tamil speaking minority”

      The LTTE and Tamils try to user this to get the support of the Muslims, and then Chased them away from the North,

      The SLMC was born in 1981 to prevent Tamils using Muslims for the Tamils own ends.

      Now the SLMC politicians are using Muslims get Ministerial portfolios.

      They all are using Muslims for their own Self-interest.

      The Medamulna MaRas used BBS against Muslims, to show that they are Sinhala Buddhist friendly, and it backfired.

      So, Muslims need to use Commons Sense..

      Mr. Latheef Farook, why nor produce a Common sense Phamplet for Sri Lankan Muslims, and ask them not to support extremists like BBS, Medamulana Mara, Wahhabis and their clones like ISIS and ISIL.

      Ask Muslims to be Sufis. After it was the Sufis who introduced Islam to Lanka, and South-East Asia.

      Common Sense (pamphlet)


      MaRa says: ” Yako,(Devil) if correct, with the racism and religious conflict, I should have got votes from both sides”

      [Edited out]

      • 1

        Latheef Farook –

        :However Muslim community was quick to realize that this violence was by a few hundreds of people suspected to have been trained by Israel’s Mossad and funded through Norway as part of the Zionist global campaign against Islam and Islam. The tragedy is the government turning blind eyes to these crimes against a community.:

        Aluthgama Statement By Former President C B K. On The Riot In Aluthgama

        I’m appalled the violence orchestrated…..

        By Norway, Israel and the Christian Werst in which the Medamulana State participated,,

        Many Sinhala Buddhists became sucketrs.

        This is the InternationalConspiracy,,,

        Eric Solheim of Norway Admitted finding BBS..

        So, the true Buddhists need to be Told that they are being used by the international conspirators, Norway and israel, to destoy Lanka and the peace within the country, like they have dome in Syria and Iraq,,,

        Talk to JVP,,

      • 1

        It is Sinhalese who used Muslims throughout the terror campagin against Tamils. Muslims lived peacefully among Tamils in the North East. But Sinhalese offered large sum of money to buy muslims and offered ministerial posts to work against Tamils in the past. Muslims were used as informants in the early stages of Tamil struggle against Sinhalese oppression. The same tactics is used by Rajapakse and he bought Rauf Hakeem and offered him ministerial posts but he allowed him to misuse his power for his own benefits. He cannot move away from Rajapakse as Rajapakse has got his all facts. Muslims never thought that Sinhalese will turn against them. Since the end of war Sinhalese believe that there is no more threat from Tamils but Muslims can be a threat to their existence. The whole world is now facing Muslim terrorism. US and India strongly believe that Muslims are number one threat to their existence. Whereever they live, there is no peace. For example, they moved to various western nations and now they are becoming a threat to peace. I don’t think Srilanka is no exception.

  • 0

    It is all because Hakeem seems to have no backbone. He is the greater mistake of all. No matter muslim folks are caught by draconian Rajapakshes, he has to stay silence. Alone the fact that Hakeem s long silence as minister of Justice for entire nation in numerous incidents was incomprehesible to many. I thought we dont have a minister of justice. Why did he let everything go in that way- he could resign… even at the muslims were brutally attacked by BBS backed by Gotabaya- nation s executionist was beyond all morals and ethics.
    A country once upon a time delivered some democratic values – to fall to the today s levels – is not only because of 30 year civil war- it is lack of society builders – even today ruling politicians in power are not at all tolerant to any critiques.

  • 0

    I beleive war torn countries need more investition in soceity building rather than other physcial structures, since in only people are healthy – a nation can move forward. Srilanka has the greater potential to achieve lot within shorter period of time – since it is only state in south asian region with much higher social indicator (high literacy, higher life expecatations, less mortality rate etc).

  • 2

    Latheef Farook

    In saying “…this violence was by a few hundreds of people suspected to have been trained by Israel’s Mossad and funded through Norway as part of the Zionist global campaign against Islam.” you have correctly identified the situation.

    But in saying “The tragedy is the government turning blind eyes to these crimes against a community” you are making a wrong diagnosis. The Zionist conspiracy was aimed at radicalising the Muslim youth and they fell for it. The Norwegians are behind the BBS, through Dilantha Liyanage.

    It is not that the government “turned a blind eye” to these evils, it was simply a crucial failure of the government’s intelligence infrastructure. They woke up to it only after the alert issued by an expatriate Sri Lankan who disclosed the USAID/American Center Twitter training programme with proof.

    Following the government enquiry, the US embassy quickly despatched the officers who managed the Twitter program, including a Sri Lankan Tamil who was using a Muslim name to the US and within days, Michelle Sison’s tenure was ended one year before it was due.

    So you are barking up the wrong tree here in blaming the government. As a Muslim, you must always remember that President Rajapakse is drawing the ire of the US Zionist-Neocons (they are the same group) due to his long standing support for the Palestinians. THey got Saddam Hussain and Gadaffi through lies and deception, Rajapakse is the only one left.

    So if you understand these factors correct, you should not be pointing the finger at the government, or inciting the Muslims against it.

    I would like to see your response to these comments. Thank you.

    • 3

      Oh how pathetic ! Kawum kanna suraya !

  • 1

    Formation of the SLMC has only let down the Muslims during the last 20 odd years and brought more divisions in the country. The writer hss very well listed the inadequacies of SLMC. The so called leaders only look to their benefits and positions.Since they could not share the cake they formed several splinter parties. All of them individually and severally let down the whole community, the biggest of whom is Rauf Hakeem.

    If the muslims had continued with the major parties UNP and SLFP as it was before the 90’s, they would have enjoyed the cordiality of the major community. Therefore the time is ripe for them to dump all these leaders of SLMC and all other splinter groups.

  • 0


    Muslims are better off when they are not the majority.

    Read above to see how muslims kill when they are the majority.

  • 1

    I think that Tamil and Muslim should forget about party politics and merged into national politics. It means we should have a national government in Sri lanka; No more communal politics
    We should have either national government or two party only politics:
    Only we should have two national political parties like in USA.

    All ethic parties should dismantled
    Like JHU or TNA or SLMC
    these are problem makers
    What Tamil politics has done for Sri Lanka
    What Muslim politics has done to Sri lanka
    Since the Independence they have been fighting for Tamil eelam and yet today more than two third live in South
    what is their contribution nation building
    They have only fight for rights but they do not want see a United Sri Lanka as a flourishing nation
    They should reconsider their position and they to give some thing to Lanka not thinking always what to get from motherland

  • 1


    The present SLMC with that joker and sex maniac called Hakeem has betrayed Muslims in big time in dragging on a govt that BBS is a part and a design of the regime to attack the Muslims and make room for the regime to get some credit on an election which back fired and the white van GoTa have made a big dent in MaRas campaign as not a single minority will vote for them again.

    Its the duty of all minorities including Muslims to vote for My3 and chase this racist Medamualana mega manics out of our country.

  • 1

    Latheef Farook Muslims always sat on the fence and played opportunistic politics. Now there are no fences and opportunities. They should pray for another war now. They were Tamil Muslims then they became Sinhalese Muslims there is no harm in remaining as Muslim Muslims for sometime till the next change.

  • 0

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