Chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Basheer Segudawood who sparked a fresh controversy following his call for a separate Muslim state at a meeting held in Kathankudy recently, has said that his statement was misconstrued and he only called for a separate Muslim unit and not for a separate state for the community.
Issuing a statement today, Segudawood said, “In the said meeting, what I mentioned was, about a separated Muslim unit (MuslimAlahu in Tamil) as it is still being canvassed by the Tamil political parties for a merged North & East, as well as powers for self-determination for the Tamil community. This probably has been translated to read as a Muslim separate state in other languages. I do not perceive this to be an act of deliberation, but a mistake in translation.
However, the Tamil media has carried the news the way I conveyed,” he said.
Segudawood said that Muslims have always been for a united Sri Lanka and even when Lord Soulbury referred to the separation of Ceylon, based on ethnic identity, Dr. T B Jaya declared that the Muslims are happy to live together with their brothers as one country.
“Until the emergence of the internal war and the subsequent turbulence the Muslim community faced, a need for a separate identification politics did not arise. History has provided ample evidence to prove that the welfare of the Muslim community has been largely depending on the leaders of the country. In the past few years we have faced discrimination and adversities. The country’s leadership has been blowing hot and cold in the past, when issues of Muslim security and welfare were brought to their notice,” Segudawood said.
He also noted that whenever a call is made towards Muslim aspirations, it is referred or inter twined with “Jihad” which has never been an entity in Sri Lanka. “It is said in a fashion to portray the community as a violent race. There is no evidence on record to prove the existence of Jihad or anything similar to that has been a security threat to the state or any community any day.
This has been a ploy by a few with ulterior motives to provide ammunition to rubble rousers to have political mileage,” Segudawood charged.
He emphasized that as political leaders of the community, it is their responsibility to provide a permanent and lasting solution. He emphasized upon the need to create a system for the community’s welfare, rather than looking for mercy from political leaderships. “We as Sri Lankans have experience, in witnessing suppression and discrimination resulting in violence. So, Muslim leaders should ensure the generations to come should not have a need to take this as precedence to win their rights. We are morally obliged, to ensure a peaceful future and harmonious living for our future generations,” Segudawood said.
He emphasized that when the Tamil community is demanding justice for the injustice caused during the end times of the war, the Muslim community is also demanding justice for loss of life and possessions, inflicted in the 1990s. “So, two different solutions cannot be provided to a more or less an identical problem,” he said.
He charged that even with the present governance, only the Tamil issue is given due consideration and importance, and not much is spoken about the Muslim aspirations. “Both communities have grievances and unresolved issues. Hence, both need to be addressed in the correct perspective,” he said.
“So, it is a totally fair call to demand for a separate Muslim unit, if a similar solution is to be granted to another community as a solution for their grievances. This will safeguard the community as well as the Muslim political parties, which are today a force to be reckoned with. I am of the view, that in such an event where we fail to record our demands, Especially the SLMC, will eventually be reduced to the name board, with having no tangible impact to make in politics,” he said.
He also noted that the call for a separate Muslim unit was initially mooted by SLMC’s late leader M H M Ashraff . “With the birth of National Unity Alliance (NUA), the initial call for the Muslim identification politics was transformed into national politics. With time, space and circumstances, considering the Social and economic security and the welfare of the community, the leaders took timely and appropriate decisions, to suit the need of the hour,” Segudawood added.