By Latheef Farook –
Isn’t it time that the government and the mainstream Sinhalese community wake up and tame militant racist mercenaries before they tame the government and turn the country into a killing field?
It appears that racist mercenaries who persecuted Muslims during Mahinda Rajapaksa regime seem to be raising their heads to destabilise President Maithripala Sirisena’s government. Perhaps they are trying to help defeated political forces to stage a comeback by trying to exploit the unstable political and economic situation especially in view of the government’s failure or refusal to fulfil its promises.
This also includes the government’s failure to pass the much talked about and expected hate speech bill which could deter racist elements.
During the past months few militant racists who do not represent mainstream Sinhalese community or Buddhism as they claim, have started violent attacks on Muslims, especially their religious and educational institutions.
It is common knowledge that these racists, suspected to have been funded by local and foreign forces hostile to Muslims, have been used by Rajapaksa regime and foreign forces to unleash violence on Muslims in violation of the very same teachings of Buddhism they claim to profess and protect.
The atrocities they committed on Muslims during Rajapaksa regime remain fresh in the minds of all. Muslims too set aside their sufferings and began to rebuild their lives under the peaceful environment brought in by President Sirisena’s government. They didn’t even call for a commission to probe into these shameful activities during Rajapaksa regime.
Racists remained subdued ever since Maithripala Sirisena was elected as president on 8 January 2015. Now they seem to be raising their heads.
Minaret issue in Kandy Mosque
A group of people led by Buddhist monks protested against the construction of a minaret at a mosque in Kandy stating that it will be taller than the Tooth Relic Temple. Called Line Mosque and built in 1860, in close proximity to Central Market, the mosque is located in a low area. The top most point of the minaret, on completion, will be far below the ground level of the Tooth Relic Temple and even much below the adjoining building complex.
Thus the protest led by militant monks and lay people on 05.06.2016 in front of the mosque is simply based on fiction. Threatening the Muslims a Buddhist monk addressing the crowd said “let them raise an inch in the minaret we will take care of them! “.
Columnist Mass L. Usuf said in an article that: Looking at the protest video shown in a national TV channel one can surmise the several areas of the law possibly violated. Besides the law, the primary violation is of Buddha’s teaching which non-violence was. The crowd shouts sadu, sadu in response to words of threats! Such uncivil behaviour on the part of those who are supposed to guide and direct human beings towards nibbana is unbecoming.
Meanwhile Muslim affairs and Postal Services Minister M.H.M. Halim met Malwatta Mahanayaka Thera Ven Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thera and explained the situation in a very cordial atmosphere. However a news item in the Daily Mirror on 7 June 1026 on the meeting and the minaret issue was distorted and one sided blaming the Muslims hiding proper details.
Controversy over Eastern Chief Minister
As we all know there was an incident involving Eastern Province Chief Minister Nazeer Ahamed and a naval officer at a school function at Sampur Maha Vidyalaya. It has nothing to do with Buddhism or Buddhist monks.
However taking law into their hands Ven. Ampitiye Sumanaratne Thero of Mangalaramaya temple in Ampara walked in to Nazeer Ahmed’s residence and threatened him. Later, the Venerable Thero led a protest in Ampara raising anti-Islamic slogans.
Responding to the incident the three armed forces declared that Chief Minister Nazeer Ahmed would not be permitted to enter military camps and they would boycott any public function attended by him. However this boycott was later lifted.
Exploiting the incident, a section of mainstream Sinhala media, perhaps in the payroll of local and foreign anti Muslims forces, went to town raising hostile slogans derogating the whole Muslim community. For example Sunday Divaina, known for its open hostility towards Muslims, in its editorial on 29th May 2016 called for the slaying of Nazeer Ahamed, to be carried out by the father of the child who was involved and his head to be offered to the Governor of the Eastern Province – Austin Fernando. (Hilmy Ahamed in his column in Colombo Telegraph)
This is the shameful state of the local mainstream media.
This episode ended only when President Maithripala Sirisena dismissed the incident on his return to the island from a visit abroad.
Protest against building a Muslim School in Welimada
In yet another lawless incident a group of militant monks accompanied by handful of people protested against the construction of a school for Muslims in Welimada.
Welimada Muslim Maha Vidyalaya, located in the Welimada Town , need to be expanded to meet the growing demand for its junior section. Thus the Muslims in the area decided to shift the junior section to a place called Dambawinna allocated by the government. A ceremony was organised to lay the foundation stone for the new building by the Uva Province Chief Minister Sammara Sampath Dassanayake.
However a group of Sinhalese led by young Buddhist monks staged a protested against the move stating that this area was allocated for government offices. Thus causing unnecessary tension in the area between the two communities. Chief Minister said that this land for the school was allocated by the Education Ministry.
Controversy over expansion of Dehiwala Bhatiya Mawatha Mosque
A group of people who used to insult Muslims with derogatory comments, attack their vehicles and obstruct worshippers protested against the expansion of Bhatiya Mawatha Mosque. This was undertaken with the approval of the Dehiwala Municipality to meet the needs of growing number of worshippers. This does not pause any problem to anyone as it is a centre of worship.
Yielding to racists’ demand Dehiwala Municipality has cancelled the approval already given. A copy of this shameful decision was sent to police who asked the mosque management to stop expansion work.
Enraged Colombo Mosque Federation, with a membership of 175 mosques, and Muslim parliamentarians in Colombo decided to resort to legal means to fight for their rights. Condemning this decision by the municipality and the attitude of the police, Colombo Mosque Federation Secretary and R.R.T President Shiraz Noordeen described it as shameful.” We are expanding the mosque for prayer and not for gambling, consuming liquor or prostitution. Blocking this is violation of fundamental rights and we are ready to go any length to ensure the rights of the Muslims and end the tyranny unleashed by lawless elements who are trying to create another communal mayhem in the country already devastated by racist wars.
Worsening situation forced Muslim Ministers Messrs Hakeem, Rishard Bathiudeen, Kabir Hashim, Faizer Mustapha and parliamentarians Mujibur Rahman and Saidulla Marikkar to meet and discuss the rising anti Muslim tide which could pit Sinhalese and Muslims with devastating consequences.
Minister Rishard Bathiudeen said police siding with racist thugs is not something new as it happened during Mahinda Rajapaksa regime under the watch full eyes of the police. If the police had acted such atrocities could have been stopped. It appears the police seem to be adopting the very same policy of appeasing racist elements against Muslims.
Responding to Parliamentarian Mujibur Rahman, President Maithripala Sirisena assured that hostile activities against Muslims will be stopped. Mujibur Rahman also pointed out that the municipality has no right to cancel the permission already given to the mosque expansion work to please the racist elements.
The question is why these monks and their supporters never staged any protest against casinos, liquor industry and liquor sales centres, immoral houses operated under various pretexts and other such activities? Why these unwanted and unreasonable protests against Muslims who remain the most peaceful of the three communities?
Something wrong somewhere! Isn’t it?
This paradise of a country, known for its political, economic and social stability during the time of independence in 1948, and a shining inspiring example for most third world countries, was turned into a killing field mainly due to racist politics of the two major political parties-The United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
This country has everything for its people to live in peace, harmony and prosperity. There was no need for the sufferings the people undergo now mainly due to racist politics and callous mismanagement which turned the country into a living a hell.
In fact when the ethnic war broke out it was the politicians and their sidekicks flourished in weapons purchasing while innocent people on all sides died and suffered. Due to continuous misrule the country was turned today into a political mess and the economy shamefully depends on IMF bail outs and other loans.
Under the circumstance the country cannot afford to allow racist militants to take law into their hands. They have taken law into their hands and function as government above the government.
The need of the hour is firmness on the part of the government to deal with such elements and save the country from yet another ethnic calamity.