Further reinforcing the hand of the defence establishment in the prevailing anti-Muslim discourse in Sri Lanka propagated by Buddhist monk led hardline groups, the Military Spokesman continues to disseminate highly inappropriate information to local and foreign correspondents based in the country.
Brigadier Ruwan Wanigasooriya who makes it a habit of forwarding blatantly extremist musings by Sinhala hardline writers yesterday sent media personnel an email with the subject line ‘We are not alone in the current dialogue’.
Contained in the email was an article that appeared in the UK based Independent newspaper about the ongoing debate in Britain about the Muslim dress code. The article relates to race relations in the UK after a judge asked a veiled woman to remove her burqa in order to give evidence at a trial. Although it is not the heading of the article in question the attachment sent by the Military Spokesman contains the title ‘Muslim woman must remove burka in court’.
The “current dialogue” in Sri Lanka with regards to the Muslim dress is led by the openly Islamophobic Bodu Bala Sena and other hardline organisations and is seen as part of the groups’ ongoing campaign of intolerance against the country’s Muslim minority community. The issue of the Muslim head-dress and burqa has not so far been in the ‘dialogue’ for either the ruling government or any other political party or organisation.
“A question mark arises therefore, as to why the military spokesman who is making political statements well beyond his mandate in seeming deference to the anti-Muslim rhetoric of hardline movements. It is especially disturbing because Sri Lanka’s defence establishment led by Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa is seen as being supportive of the hardline groups who have been responsible for increasing acts of violence against the Muslim community.” a Civil Society activist told Colombo Telegraph.
Following is the Military Spokesman’s email to reporters and the forwarded article.