Colombo Telegraph

Sri Lankan Muslims And Power Of Vote: Some Reflections

By Rifai Naleemi

Dr. Rifai Naleemi

Provincial council elections are going to be held in some parts of Sri Lanka tomorrow. It is a democratic right of each and every citizen of this country to vote in this election so that people can have their representatives as they like. Muslims of Sri Lanka in this part of the country should vote to make their voices heard in this election. There have been some arguments about Muslim participation in this election. Unlike in the past Muslims are fade up this time to vote with any enthusiasm not because Muslims have no interest in politics rather recent anti-Muslim propaganda made to keep away from this government.  They feel that Muslim community is being systematically marginalised by this government wittingly or unwittingly. Some Muslims feel that they should totally boycott this election.  Some others feel that they should go to voting centres and invalidate their votes as a protest against this government. Some others feel that they should all vote for UNP candidates as a protest vote.

To this extend Muslims are frustrated in politics today. They do not know why and how Muslims are victimised in this communal violence and racism of BBS and its cohorts. Why do they target Muslims and what did innocent Muslims do to harm Buddhism in this country?  Without any reasons Muslims have been targeted by this BBS gangs in recent time. And yet, our politicians have done have done nothing to protect them and their religious places. So, what is the point in voting in this election and what is the point in voting for this government which has grossly failed to protect minority rights. This is the mindset of most of Muslims today in Sri Lanka. Voting or not voting that would not make any difference. This is the perception of some people about this election.

Yet, I strongly feel that Muslim should participate in this election with keen interest. They should exercise their democratic rights so that they could protect their basic rights. In Sri Lankan context as a second minority community we should cleverly use our vote bank. Individually some of us may vote or may not vote and yet, collectively as a community we should vote for candidates who look after communal interest with sincerity and honesty. He should be really supporting Muslim community and look after them and at least not harming them. This is the case when we are electing any candidate for any executive position or membership of parliament.

It is a collectively religious duty of Muslim community to choose the most qualified and most honest person for any public office or position in Sri Lanka otherwise, crook and dishonest people will come to power. They could misuse the mandate given to them by public.  We have seen many politicians in our community they have been cheating our community for a long time in Sri Lanka. This Sri Lankan government prefer to have inactive and incapable Muslim MPs to represent Muslim community in Sri Lanka. Look at some of our politicians who work with this government and they do not have any quality to represent Muslims.

Look at the pathetic status of our politicians today: they have no any political influence in today’s Sri Lanka. They could do very little for community today at this crucial movement. While Islamic heritages are destroyed they even can not open their mouths. Do you need such politicians for our community? What benefits community gets from these types of selfish politicians in SL.? If all these Muslim politicians are really committed Muslims, they should have crossed over to UNP or they should have resigned from their posts when they see all these anti Muslims activities that are perpetrated with the support of some MPs in parliaments.

It is not a big issue whether we vote or not and most of Muslim people will vote but yet the big question is to whom we vote and how do we vote? It is sad story that Muslim politicians are divided into many camps and parties. Muslims candidates are divided in between UNP, SLFP, Muslim congress, Muslims people’s congress and other parties. It is pathetic to see this situation. What will be dare consequence of this division? Muslim votes will be divided. Consequently, we would not able to elect enough people in this election? This is a political suicidal of Muslims community as a minority we should wisely select our candidates and wisely elect our representatives. We do not have unity among us.  I’m afraid to say some greedy people could be elected at the expenses of community welfare and interest.

The more our politicians are divided between political parties the more our votes will be divided and the more our votes are divided the less representation we will have in this election. That is what going to happen due lack of our unity and lack understating of this political systems. It is my humble request to Muslim politicians that they should join the national political streams and join the national parties such as UNP and SLFP and work in the national interest of country. I do not think that having communal party would help us any more and it is rarely viable today in Sri Lanka and Muslim people in north and East should work with Tamil political parties and reconcile with them and work to the betterment of Sri Lankans on this part of the country; Ethno- communal politics would destroy the unity and communal harmony in Sri Lanka. I wonder if all politicians realise this fact. On the part of Muslim community we should always have more committed people in politics. And more qualified people should be sent into politics. Once companions asked the prophet when will be the Day of Judgment? Prophet said when unqualified people are entrusted with responsibilities? It is one of sign of Qiyama to select and elect unsuitable candidates for any public office or post, what about this post to represent Muslim community? Definitely we should send the most qualified, most pious, most honest and most educated one to speak for us?

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