11 August, 2020

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Sri Lanka Muslims At The Cross-Roads – Part II

By Izeth Hussain

 Izeth Hussain

Izeth Hussain

I concluded the first part of this article by stating that the Muslim strategy of political quietism had several reasons behind it, one of which was the fear psychosis set off initially by the anti-Muslim riots of 1915. I had intended to begin this part of my article by going into the other reasons, but I have since then come across excellent material to substantiate my point about the Muslim fear psychosis. M.S.M.Fouzer, writing in the web site Halal SL, states that there are disturbing signs at present that the anti-Muslim campaign is catching on with the Buddhist masses. He gives importance as a causative factor to the spread of a video which had been shown by the BBS to the heads of the Sangha in Kandy. He pointed to the destruction of a shop in Aluthgama and other ominous incidents, and advocated, among other things, that Muslims should avoid clothing that identifies them as Muslims while mingling with the Vesak crowds.

Are people like Fouzer being alarmist? I think they are being courageous in being outspoken in spite of a pervasive climate of fear in Sri Lanka, which – with good reason – afflicts our Muslims in particular. Fouzer is also being realistic: I myself will eschew ethnic markers declaring myself a Muslim if I go into a Vesak crowd. I think we need some clarity about Muslim fears on what could happen to them as a result of the State-backed anti-Muslim campaign. The very fact that it is indisputably State-backed justifies some amount of a fear psychosis. It seems to be now generally believed that the Government will not allow a July ’83 against the Muslims, not because of moral scruples but because of the probable adverse international repercussions. But much that is horrible can be perpetrated against the Muslims short of a July ’83. For instance the torching of a Muslim shop in Aluthgama a few days ago, under the most absurd of pretexts, has not apparently so far led to any police action to apprehend the culprits – see the excellent and outspoken article by Hameed Karim in the Colombo Telegraph of May 14. It is the sort of thing that can multiply until the Muslims are degraded to the status of a lesser breed that is not entitled to any protection under the rule of law. The State racists may be able to bring that off without provoking international punitive action.

BBSThe traditional fear psychosis of the Muslims is today enhanced by the obvious external dimension of the BBS. It appears that it really got going consequent to a visit of its leaders to Norway, after which hitherto unheard of monks suddenly shot to national prominence with their anti-Muslim campaign. The political analyst Chandraprema, who has been emphasizing these facts, believes that the BBS is part of a program aimed at destroying Buddhism and Buddhists in Sri Lanka. I myself thought that Norwegian Islamophobes may have wanted to encourage Islamophobia in the Buddhist world, and hence the nexus established between the BBS and anti-Muslim Buddhist extremists in Myanmar. Later, it seemed to me that the BBS’ anti-Muslim campaign amounted to an advertisement for Eelam, for reasons that I don’t want to repeat here. In the absence of hard evidence, I would emphasize just two points that we should bear in mind. One is that while the Islamic fundamentalists are nutty, the Islamophobes are equally nutty, and any kind of lunacy can be expected of both of them. The second is that sinister foreign forces could be working towards the destabilization of Sri Lanka.

It is in the context of the external dimension of the BBS that I would view the video that is said to contain material that is outrageous to Buddhists, so outrageous that it could easily ignite anti-Muslim violence on a nation-wide scale if the State racists organize it. Before dealing with that video, I must make some clarifications about the story that has apparently gained wide currency that Wahabi Muslims have been attacking Buddhism. As I have stated above, I regard Islamic fundamentalists as essentially nutty and therefore I thought it just possible, not probable but just possible, that some Wahabis made irate by the ignorant denigration of Islam have retaliated on some occasions with ignorant denigration of Buddhism. But I am assured by knowledgeable Muslim contacts that the story is utterly false and that not a single Sri Lankan Wahabi has ever attacked Buddhism in public. There is a Sinhalese convert to Islam who has attacked Buddhism, but his behavior is atypical of the SL Muslims and is typical of converts who tend to become ultra. The story of SL Wahabis attacking Buddhism does not accord with the deep fear psychosis that is built into the SL Muslim psyche.

I come now to the video which I have not seen, and therefore depend on the account given about it in the Hemantha Warnakulasuriya Island column of May 13. I quote: “A person called Razeek Rafideen, alias Abdul Razeek, Secretary of a Muslim religious organization was addressing a crowd in very fine Sinhala. His objective was to commit the worst kind of blasphemy by castigating the image of Buddha and Buddhism. He said that the Buddhists were worshipping and praying and asking for protection from the ‘Triple Gem’ (theruwan) which were three gems. Therefore they prayed to three stones and that was nothing but a false  belief.Can stones help you in difficulties?”Then he went on to say that ‘in the Majima Nikaya Buddha refers to a person who is unborn (nupan) and that person is none other than Allah.; The he referred to a book written by Ven. Kiribathgoda Gnanananda, claiming that according to it and the sutras, he claimed that Buddhism encouraged Cannibalism,”

HW also wrote: “Up to the time of writing this letter, not a single Muslim organization or the Moslem Council of Ulamas (All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama) and Minister and other persons of importance had not condemned that blasphemous and sacrilegious statement.” He is clearly faulting Muslim institutions and individuals in important positions for not speaking out against those sacrilegious statements. Some would draw the conclusion that the Muslims as a whole either approve of those statements or attach no importance to them.

Let me try to explain what I would regard as the Muslim position on this matter. First of all there is the Muslim fear psychosis which dictates a strategy of political quietism. Most Muslims if confronted with the shocking statements attributed to a possibly non-existent Rafideen would want to keep quiet about it and hope that the problem will simply go away. That, in fact, seems to be the position of the President himself in regard to the Muslim problem. Secondly most Muslims, including the ones in important positions, may not even have heard of those sacrilegious statements. I myself, as well as some of my well-informed Muslim contacts, have come to hear of the famous video only very recently. So, the question of a self-incriminating silence on the part of Muslim notables does not arise. Thirdly, most Muslims viewing the video would almost certainly regard it as no more than anti-Muslim propagandist garbage.  They would find it impossible to believe that any Muslim who is not a certifiable lunatic would make that statement about Buddhism encouraging cannibalism. A significant fact about the video is that it has been in circulation since June 2013, almost a year, and thousands have seen it, but it seems to have caused a stir only very recently. The probable reason is that most Sinhalese viewers have also regarded it as not much more than propagandist garbage.

But unfortunately the matter cannot be allowed to rest at that.  Mr. Warnakulasuriya  is a successful lawyer with much experience behind him – whose column I usually read with much interest. He has shown in his article that he is by no means anti-Muslim by several statements against the BBS and other extremist groups. He has been clearly outraged by the video, and his Buddhist sentiments have to be respected. Furthermore, the video has reportedly been shown to the Maha Sangha by the BBS to show that it has come into action only because the Government has been failing to protect Buddhist interests. These facts point to one conclusion: the Government must hold an inquiry into the authenticity or otherwise of the video. This is desirable also for the reason – as I have argued above – that there could be sinister foreign forces working towards the destabilization of Sri Lanka. If proved authentic, punitive action must be taken against the culprit, and nothing should be held against the totality of the Muslims who will most certainly unanimously support such punitive action. Alternatively, the BBS must show that it was not complicit in the production of anti-Muslim propagandist garbage.

In my present series of articles on Muslims at the cross-roads, I will be emphasizing two points for positive action. One is that the rule of law must be relentlessly applied. Our Government seems to be bent on showing that our Muslims will be treated as one of the lesser breeds who are not entitled to the protection of the rule of law as a matter of course. The other is that problems that have been bedeviling Sinhalese-Muslim relations, sometimes for decades, must all be addressed and solved. In my view there is none that is really intractable. Successive Governments have failed, or rather refused to do this, and that is why in addition to the horrendous Tamil ethnic problem we now have a Muslim ethnic problem that can also become horrendous.

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Latest comments

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    There goes Izeth Hussain again. “It seems to me the BBS anti-Muslim campaign amounted to an advertisement for Eelam – for reasons I don’t want to repeat here”. Come! Come! Mr. Hussain – can’t you have a night’s sleep without inflicting an irrelevant attack on Tamils? Now this narrative of yours is about Muslims and Sinhalese. So where does this rub on the Tamils come in? And you DON’T want to reveal the reasons for your strange conclusion??? You might escape writing rubbish about Tamils in The Island but here the CT allows free and unfettered comment. Mischief-makers like you meet your match here. Please restrict your future writings to the subject without resorting to shooting barbs at unconnected communities.

    Nettabomman

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    Izzath, you speak about everything but the elephant in the room. MARA the Evil One deliberately orchestrates / permits racial, religious conflicts in the country in the belief he can manipulate the conflict in such manner as to make sure that at least 75 percent of the Buddhists vote for him en masse at the next presidential elections. This is why there is no police action against the miscreants. How else can you explain the impunity with which Nanasara the Kupadiya behaves?

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    BBS is funded by RSS (BJP).

    Modi won.

    Now Muslims are DOOMED.

    Only protection Muslims have is Pakistan.

    Tamils are DOOMED too! In all previous elections Tamils were king makers. Not any more!!

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      Tamodaya,

      Just wait for a few months. You will know as to who are DOOMED.

      Sengodan. M

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      Tamodaya,

      Why have you given up your Fat Fuk pseudonym. Are the attacks from all sides become unbearable. Or have you also become tired of your meaningless postings.

      Hooker

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    A repetition of July 83 for Muslims will not be enacted on full scale. But it will be enacted on small doses continuously like controlled explosions! Muslims will have to wake up and align with others in similar category without trying to selfishly sort out matters on their own which will only lead to their doom.

    Sengodan. M

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      Sengodan,
      You mean to save ourselves, we have to align with the ones who slaughtered our kith and kin while praying in a mosque?

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    Dear Izeth Hussain –

    Sri Lanka Muslims At The Cross-Roads – Part II

    “It appears that it really got going consequent to a visit of its leaders to Norway, after which hitherto unheard of monks suddenly shot to national prominence with their anti-Muslim campaign. The political analyst Chandraprema, who has been emphasizing these facts, believes that the BBS is part of a program aimed at destroying Buddhism and Buddhists in Sri Lanka. I myself thought that Norwegian Islamophobes may have wanted to encourage Islamophobia in the Buddhist world, and hence the nexus established between the BBS and anti-Muslim Buddhist extremists in Myanmar. Later, it seemed to me that the BBS’ anti-Muslim campaign amounted to an advertisement for Eelam, for reasons that I don’t want to repeat here. In the absence of hard evidence, I would emphasize just two points that we should bear in mind. One is that while the Islamic fundamentalists are nutty, the Islamophobes are equally nutty, and any kind of lunacy can be expected of both of them. The second is that sinister foreign forces could be working towards the destabilization of Sri Lanka.”

    1. Very Plausible and likely hypothesis. This is a type of false Flag Operation. Please note that Norway is a Christian Country, look at the Flag, and there are quite a moderate fundamentalist Christians who have links to the Western Christian organizations.

    2. They tried to bisect and control parts of Lanka, the land of the Native Veddah, through LTTE. That Project failed. However, their projects on East Timor and South Sudan have succeeded. Christians are bribing their way in to Africa, converting.

    3. It was only in Asia and West Asia the Christian project was not fully successful, with the entrenched Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam.

    So the West inspired Norwegian Proxies are now using Buddhist against the Muslims. what a great idea from their viewpoint, kill two birds with one stone, but the birds need o be on the watch-out.

    4. Of Course look at the finding, Norwegian Israeli and American connection.

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/kusal-perera-april-26-2014/

    [Edited out]

    Israel and interplay interact with each other,, and fund…

    5. Sri Lanka Muslims At The Cross-Roads – Part II

    It is not only the Sri Lankan Muslims, Sri Lanka, Sri Lanka Sinhala Buddhists, Sri Lanka Sinhala Christians, Sri Lanka Hindu Tamils and Sri Lanka Christian Tamils as well are at the Cross Roads including the Native Veddah in their own country due to the Paras.

    Why?Sri Lanka Muslims At The Cross-Roads – Part II

    6. Because of the Curse of 6th Century Para-Monk Mahanama Sinhala “Buddhist” Racism and Chauvinism, that is being followed by a certain segment of the Sinhala “Buddhists”, Monks and Politicians.

    Muslims are only part of the equation in the mix, However, the core-problem is the distorted Monk Mahanama Buddhists. It is about the hegemony of the Monks and Politicians. Those who appease to this hegemony will be treated well.

    7. Monk Mahanama Buddhism is NOT Buddhism.
    Same with Taliban-ism and Wahhabism, It is not Islam.

    So, the Sinhala Buddhists need to save Buddhism from the monk Mahanma and BBS Buddhism, and turning true Buddhists into Maras.

    Similarly, the Sufi Muslims and True Muslims need to save themselves from the fake Wahhabi who follow the Satan, Shaitan or Mara.

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      Izeth wrote, “There is a Sinhalese convert to Islam who has attacked Buddhism….” That’s Amaraya.

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        I am no muslim

        Wrong. That is all you can say? Do you mean a Native Veddah Convert to Islam? interesting!

        When will the paras leave for South India and India, and leave the land of native Veddah alone.

        All Egalitarian Agnostics are open to be converted to ANY MYTH.

        HOWEVER,the Problem with Myth holders is that they cannot convince and articulate with good reason, observations and data, that their myths are valid and why they should be converted. Then they kill the opponents, if alternate arguments are put forward. Inquisition, blasphemy, etc.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/17/world/asia/pakistan-boy-kills-a-jailed-man-who-was-accused-of-blasphemy.html?action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&region=Footer&module=MoreInSection&pgtype=article

        Pakistan: Boy Kills a Jailed Man Who Was Accused of Blasphemy

        At least the catholic Church changed their view of the Geocentric System, and admitted Galileo was right after 350 years, but Giordano Bruno was burned at the stake, February 1600.

        When will the Para-Sinhala Monk Mahanamsa “Buddhist” followers will admit that Monk Mahanama Imaginations as written in the Mahawansa, are lies, Imaginations?

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    I am quite interested in watching the video clip adverted to by Hemantha Warnakulasuriya. Could any reader direct me to the website?

    If such a video exists, I agree with IH that every effort should be made to find the source and punish the miscreants under existing laws relating to attack on religions.

    Whether such a video exists or not, there is ostensibly an anti-Muslim attack being pursued by diverse elements, but not necessarily with identical agendas.

    Sadly, we have heard neither His Excellency nor the Defence Secretary comment on the subject of BBS despite the continued exhortation of the Sunday Island editor Chandraperuma (who has authored an excellent biography on GR).

    Until these is a clear vocal position taken by MR and GR, the Muslims will continue to live in a state of anxiety. Or is that the agenda?

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    Lets stop being defensive… if we have a muslim man denegrating buddhism and he needs to be dealt woth according to prevailing law not according to mob law. Similarly BBS should be dealt according to law.

    Muslims are perfectly capable of looking after themselves and unlike Burmese rohingya the Sri Lankan muslims are not a helpless lot living in camp. This is not 1915 and they will get through this period of instability with a little careful handling as one community. Change is needed in leadership to ensure srilanka progress as a modern nation with internal harmony. may God bless Sri Lanka. Its time to drop seperationism and live as one nation and one people!

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    I think the title of this article is misleading and the author being rather alarmist.

    Firstly Muslims are not at such a decisive point as suggested. We continue to live in peace and harmony as instructed by religon. The suggestion seems to be that we should retaliate. This is clearly not an option from the religous point of view as per our religous scholars who recommend the path of patience and prayer. Ours is the path of patience and constancy in our faith.

    “Seek Allah’s help with patient perseverance and prayer. It is indeed hard except for those who are humble.” (2:45)

    “Oh you who believe! Seek help with patient perseverance and prayer, for God is with those who patiently persevere.” (2:153)

    “Be sure We shall test you with something of fear and hunger, some loss in goods, lives, and the fruits of your toil. But give glad tidings to those who patiently persevere. Those who say, when afflicted with calamity, ‘To Allah we belong, and to Him is our return.’ They are those on whom descend blessings from their Lord, and mercy. They are the ones who receive guidance.” (2:155-157)

    “Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.
    Verily, with every difficulty there is relief.”
    Qur’an 94:5-6

    Secondly the incident at Aluthgama is one of a few. Although the police have not taken action there is a legal option which can be exercised by the victim himself similiar to the legal action taken against BBS. One hopes that the muslims of the area will explore the legal remedies rather than resorting to demonstrations etc.

    Prevention is better than cure and muslims should adjust to any hostile environment by consulting with their co-religionist, religous scholars and religous bodies which have been set up for this purpose. Consultation and righteous action is one of the pillars of muslim society. Islam is a flexible religon and certain injunctions could change according to the circumstances.

    “And those who have responded to their lord and established prayer and whose affair is [determined by] consultation among themselves, and from what We have provided them, they spend.” Quran 42:38

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    “The other is that problems that have been bedeviling Sinhalese-Muslim relations, sometimes for decades, must all be addressed and solved. In my view there is none that is really intractable. Successive Governments have failed, or rather refused to do this, and that is why in addition to the horrendous Tamil ethnic problem we now have a Muslim ethnic problem that can also become horrendous.”

    Mr Izzeth Hussein is absolutely correct in asserting that decades-old problems that have affected and are continuing to affect Sinhalese-Muslim relations adversely must be addressed and solved. The status of the health of the Sinhalese – Muslim relationship is the Primary ‘Muslim Problem’ – not the emergence of Anti-Muslim Racist Groups which is a Symptom (or Effect) of this Muslim Problem.

    Unfortunately, Mr Hussein then goes on to place the responsibility of rectifying the weakening of the Sinhalese – Muslim relations solely on the shoulders of successive Governments. This may be perceived as a hypothesis on the part of Mr Hussein that the Muslim Community is not in any way responsible for the weakening of S – M relations.

    Would it not be more pragmatic for the Muslim Community to initially engage in serious self-analysis, identify possible actions on their part that may have caused their relationship with the Majority Community to deteriorate over the past decades and to take the necessary steps to nullify and neutralize such acts without abandoning their Islamic practices ? Such a bold move on the part of the Muslims could in fact strengthen the hand of any Government in resolving the ‘Muslim Problem’.

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      Bistan Batcha – this is only the second of a series of articles that I have in mind. Later I will go into aspects of SL Muslim activity that have had a negative impact on relations with the Sinhalese.

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        Izeth Hussain. I am eagerly awaiting your 3rd part in the series. If we are to live in amity all races and all religions must be restrained in their actions. There must be a policy of live and let live.

        A subject you need to touch on at some stage in your writing is that of the policy of segregation of communities in the primary and secondary education institutions Though many have written about this there is still insufficient attention given to this as a impediment to reconciliation.

        I agree with some of the commentators who expressed the view that Muslims are not at a crossroads. I am Buddhist and Sinhalese, but I will defend those of other races and faiths with my life. Many are like that though the rabid amongst us will say otherwise.

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          Wickramasiri – thanks for your response. I don’t intend focusing on segregation in education because my focus in the present series of articles is on the Muslims. However my long-held view on segregation is as follows. Wherever possible bring together students of the three language streams for classes on the English language. Through that the sense of being alien to each other can diminish. I have other views as well on the importance that should be given to English in our education system, But not just now.

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    dear izeth
    Events seem to be overtaking what you relate to in your writings.It would be prudent to relax for a while, lest your writings become obsolete in the short run . Bensen

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    izeth [Edited out]

  • 0
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    your articles are as rubbish [Edited out]

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