23 October, 2017

Tamil-Muslim Rapprochement Is The Need Of The Hour

By Aboobacker Rameez

Aboobacker Rameez

The recent months of Sri Lankan politics have witnessed Tamil National Alliance (TNA) sweeping overwhelmingly the Northern Provincial election (NPC) held for the first time in the history of Sri Lankan politics. Surprisingly, the new chief minister, CV Wigneswaran, recently taking oath before the president sent shockwaves to rabbles and those who opposed the NPC election in the South, while displaying a potent political gesture to the Southern political leaders, especially the government.

The appointment of Mr Azmin Ayoob, a member of People Movement for Good Governance’s (PMGG) party under the bonus seat of the TNA and his inclusion as an advisory council member of a ministry of NPC and the first visit that the NPC Chief Minster took along with his TNA delegation to Jaffna Mohammadiya Mosque yesterday underlines an unprecedented symbolic political gesture extended towards the Muslims by the TNA to build bridges between the Tamils and Muslims in the North and the East. It was reported that CM highlighted the urgent need of the Tamil Muslim rapprochement at the meeting. Violence against Muslims including their forceful eviction from Northern Province, the intermittent killings of Muslims even at the Mosques in the Eastern province committed by the Tamil armed rebels and the resultant reaction of Muslims with the support of government forces in1990s served to drive a wedge between the Tamils and Muslims during the height of the war. This has deepened the Tamil and Muslim political schism at the national and regional level. However, the latest turn of events that occurred in the post war era heralded a scenario that posited the renewal of Tamil and Muslim rapprochement in the North and East.

Anti-Muslim campaign in the post war era

All Sri Lankans, regardless of their ethnicity, religion, language and so on, anticipated a decent and peaceful life free from violence, bomb explosion, and ethnic strife immediately after the elimination of war in 2009, however, to their utter disappointment, what they witnessed, on the contrary, was a virulently strident anti-minority campaign, particularly against Muslims targeting their places of religious worship, dietary practices and their costumes by the extremist fringe with the blessing of rulers. While majority of Muslim politicians in the government were seen helpless or vulnerable because of the perks and privileges they were endowed with to stand up against the growing anti-Muslim campaign in the country, minority politicians including Azath Salley, some leftist politicians, and Tamil politicians like Mano Ganesen have firmly stood up raising this ghastly injustice against Muslims in many political and civil forums. More importantly, TNA parliamentarians like Sumanthiran and Sampanthan showing their courage and empathy towards their brethren have raised this issue in the parliament and taken up this matter with Navi Pillay when she recently visited to the country on a fact-finding mission, while Muslim politicians kept a low profile without raising this corrosive issue when meeting her. This manoeuvre of TNA has been considered a significant symbolic gesture to renew their relationship with Muslims and to address issues confronting the minorities, regardless their ethnic and religious differences.

Formation of Eastern Provincial Council

As there was an ample opportunity presented to form the Eastern Provincial Council at its last election held in 2012 with the coalition of Tamil and Muslim minority administration, it was swiftly turned down with Minister Rauf Hakeem subsequently deciding to back the government to form its administration with only few ministerial portfolios to his party members. Interestingly, to garner the support of SLMC, the TNA went to the extent of proposing the Chief Ministerial Post of the council to SLMC in the event of the council being formed as a coalition, but it was inadvertently slipped away. Section of people from minority communities faulted Mr Hakeem for slipping away the historical moment presented to form a minority coalition and thereby pressing the government to devolve more powers to the province, but such effort of the TNA resulted in vain. After a lapse of almost one and half years of the EPC administration, two week ago, the Eastern Provincial Council voted overwhelmingly to strengthen the 13th Amendment .The motion, asking the government to strengthen and not dilute the 13th Amendment, was tabled by the SLMC amidst the vociferous opposition of the SLFP Chief Minister. Majority of Tamil and Muslim members of the government party abstained from voting, while the provincial Minister of Education, Wimalaweera Dissanayake, and nominated Councillor, T. Navaratnarajah, voted in favour of the motion. The only ruling Party (UPFA) Councillor, Priyantha Pathirana, voted against the motion. With the strong support of The TNA, and the UNP, the motion tabled by the SLMC succeeded taking umbrage the government and those who vehemently oppose the 13th amendment to the constitution. Tamils extending their unstinted support in favour of a motion presented by the SLMC at the council has also been considered another positive step to the Tamil Muslim rapprochement in the North and the East. It was aptly noted by a member of TNA at the council that the SLMC has to reciprocate the same towards the TNA when it comes to them bringing a motion supportive to the cause of minorities in the future.

Apprehension of Muslims in the renewal of Tamil Muslim relationship  

Unlike the Southern Muslims, the Muslims in the North and the East continue to share their linguistic and cultural affinity with Tamil brethren as they are interspersed with each other for centuries. Thus, there is a desperate need to re-establish the relationship between Tamils and Muslims, particularly in the wake of minority communities being targeted by the extremist fringe drawn with a majoritarian mindset in the post war context of Sri Lanka. However, there are some genuine apprehensions that Muslims have that beg clear-cut clarifications or answers from the Tamil polity. Some of them are:

1)    The pursuit of TNA to merge the North East(NE) and thus reducing the percentage of North Eastern Muslim population

2)    Political autonomy and social economic prosperity that the Eastern province has exercised over the years after the separate EPC may be stymied in the event of Tamils and Muslims being united.

3)    The lack of candid attempt to resettle the forcefully evicted Muslims from Northern province

4)    Fair play in the devolution of power

The current position of TNA to find a solution to the Tamil speaking people under united Sri Lanka in a merged NE is a cause of concern to the Muslims, especially the ones living in the Eastern province. Apart from Muslims becoming a minority under a dominant polity in the merged NE, Eastern Muslims may also be deprived of the socio, economic and political prosperity they have been enjoying under the EPC over the years in the event of being NE merged. Thus, there is a significant need to arrest such fear and alarm of those Muslims in the East by the Tamil polity. However, it needs to be noted that the demerger of NE would significantly be contingent on the Supreme Court ruling and in that case, it has to revoke the decision it made in 2008. It would be facile to note that revoking such a historical ruling of the Supreme Court is highly unlikely in the current context of Sri Lanka. Moreover, it also is naïve to argue that the Eastern people including the Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese would support of a referendum seeking the de-merger of the NE, depriving their socio, economic and political clout they have largely enjoyed in the wake of the establishment of EPC.

It is also important on the part of the Tamil polity in the North to address the administrative and institutional obstacles from resettling the forcefully evicted Muslims from the Northern Province in 1990s. The history has seen that the government has incubated the forceful eviction of Muslim by the LTTE as a fodder only during the election platform to appeal to the Muslims in the Northern electorates while doing nothing tangible to resettle them. Similarly, the Tamils politicians have done nothing constructive or appropriate to resettle those Muslims languishing in the thatched hut shelters in Puttalam and other areas over the years. Thus, it is significant for the NPC administration formed by the TNA to take appropriate measures to resettle them in the future closely working with the government mechanism. It is equally important for the TNA to spell out how they are supposed to treat the Muslims in the event of political solution being arrived at under the united Sri Lanka.

Therefore, what Muslims and Tamils living in the NE need now is trust and mutual understanding to re-establish the deformed relationship and cooperation between them. Politicians and civil society members from both Tamil and Muslim communities need to constantly engage with each other in matters of crucial importance concerning both communities. Rest assured that there is a glimmer of hope in the wake of NPC election to build bridges between these two brotherly communities in the NE.

*The writer is currently a PhD research scholar at the National University of Singapore. He can be reached at aramees2001@gmail.com. 

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Latest comments

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    This is timely needed good works of Tamil leadership: I really appreciate this move. Now it is Sinhalese leadership should learn lessons from Tamil leadeship: they have immediately after this historical victory they have displayed their humbleness and willingness to work with all communities not on line with narrow ethnic or communal line rather sense of love for humanity and human race: it is a good move indeed, all communities should appreciate this move. If Muslim could get nomination from UNP and SLFP why not from Tamil parties. It should be noted here that we can not live in water- tight compartments as we did 50 years ago: all srilankan should be united if want to build up our country like that of singhapore or Malaysia: Tamils got capitals today in terms of finance and human resources: Sinhalese got power in their hands why not these two merged to build a strong nations: it is not racial line or communal that bother us rather our mismanagement of our human resources and political incorrectness: Dr Rifai. UK

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    The muslims need a forward thinking new leader and should kick out the criminal Bathiudeen and the opportunistic asslicker Hakeem and elect a new leader. The muslims are being wacked by the Sinhala extremists with impunity and it is time the tamils and muslims joined together to safeguard their rights, property and their personal safety. Peaceful and secular Sinhala people in the north and east also should join hands with the tamils and muslims.

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      What about that ass-licking Commis-Kakka Faizer Musthaffa and the foul-mouthed Azwer? They do nothing for the community but only support the govt openly when any injustice is done by extremists. They are only keen in exploiting their positions for their own good by making as much money as possible within the shortest time. These bxxxxxxs also need to be kicked out soon.

  • 0
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    So, you want to screw the Tamils.

    • 0
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      Well bro, watch, who gets screwed by whom! :)

  • 0
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    Dear Aboobacker Rameez –

    “Therefore, what Muslims and Tamils living in the NE need now is trust and mutual understanding to re-establish the deformed relationship and cooperation between them.”

    Yes, this is the first step in the reconciliation process. However, the Tamils are multiple groups, the different caste, the Hindus, the Catholics and the various Christians, they have their own end goal. The Muslims are divided into Wahhabis and non-Wahhabis, with different end goals. So, a common ground need to be found for reconciliation with common goals of freedom and dignity.

    Finally, this needs to be extended to the rest of the country, as well, as the current state seem unable to get out of its Sinhala Buddhist Chauvinism to form an Egalitarian society.

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      We should judge people either good or bad. Join forces with the good and continue to educate the wicked. We may not succeed 100 percent atleast an attempt to strive towards it is worth while. People should focus on being productive members of their society rather than attaching pointless labels on people choices of their faith. Sri Lanka is lagging behind its neighborhours in terms of economic advancement.

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        This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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        • 0
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          I am no muslim

          Great stuff

          • 0
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            I am no muslim, you don’t screw anybody, except gays.

    • 0
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      Dear Tamils

      You all should know who are Muslims. They don’t support you until now even though they speak Tamil. Hinduism and Buddhism is not recognized as religions in Islam. You gods are less powerful than Allah and Shiva Lingam is an idol for them. Your temple will be destroyed like prophet Abraham destroy the places which was worshiped by his father before he leave Babylon.

      You can get support as you want for your ambition. But you ll face what Sinhalese buddhist face after that. you already knows what Muslims did to your temples.

      Thank You

      • 0
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        IOSalli,

        I dont know who you are but I would like to address you as Iyo Salli( by that I mean how sad and hopeless you message is )

        We Tamils dont need any one to survive and our religion has survived the test of Times and you havent destroyed our temples.

        Muthurai Meenadchi
        Nallur
        Thiruketheeswaram
        and hundreds of others.

        Our Temples are in areas where we have a claim and they are not in Mecca or Medina so DONT TALK RUBBISH you idiot.

        If you want proof of what we Tamils are just remember Thiruparamkundram.

  • 0
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    What muslims looking for is a Islamic world. So, the best thing is convert all the Tamils to muslims.

    Don’t forget Joseph Rayappu and Emmanuel pillai etc.,

    Then you have your own islamic -peelam or whatever you want to call it.

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      Moda jim,
      Don’t talk cock! The muslims are too small a group to ask for bedlam peelam or whatever.
      This is the fabricated evil concocted by the envious chauvinistic incompetent lazy modayas who are unable to compete on an Even turf in an egalitarian and integrated society. Even with the only skills they have viz. Hora, Boru, Wancha Kapatikama, and Munkollaya which they indulge in periodically to slake the yaksha bloodlust. The Buddhist temples are not their places of refuge or worship. They worship at the feet of bloodthirsty japa/kapu mahattayas in the various malevolent Devales which program their thoughts and ideas and dreams into pure evil.!

    • 0
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      Please get some immediate psychiatric treatment before its too late. Obsessive disorder with Islam and Muslims will not bear any fruits. Repeating the same thing and expecting a diffident result is pure insanity.

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    “Therefore, what Muslims and Tamils living in the NE need now is trust and mutual understanding to re-establish the deformed relationship and cooperation between them.”

    Can you give us some examples or at least one example, any country or any muslim society in the world where muslims as the majority live in harmony with the other group.

    Any country in the world or any society in the world,if you can give as the example, that would appreciated very much.

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      CT should award you the ‘mentally incapable to comprehend’ prize if they ever consider to reward the mentally handicapped.

      Stop wasting your Rs 40 an hour at a netcafe. A disgrace to humanity.

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      Jim Softy,

      “Can you give us some examples or at least one example, any country or any muslim society in the world where muslims as the majority live in harmony with the other group.”

      Religion is the Opium of the masses- Karl Marx.
      Religion is the hegemony of the Monks, Priests and Mullahs.

      So for true liberation from Mullahs, Ulema and other Clerics, Muslims need to have separation of Mosque and State, and keep religion a private matter, like answering a call of nature. This was recognized by Thomas Jefferson and John Adams, the framers of the US Constitution.

      Only in those societies where there is separation of Mosque and State generally for Muslims. True for Christians, Buddhists and others as well.

      Separation of Mosque, Church, Temple and State:

      Muslims: Turkey, Syria, Lebanon, Indonesia, Bangla Desh, Kosovo, Central Asia, Bosnia
      Iraq ( During Saddam)
      Egypt, During Nasser, Mubarak, Sadat, Libya, Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Now?

      Non-Separation: The Rest, controlled by Mullahs, Ex. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and the rest.

      Christians: France, USA, Australia, EU Counties, excluding many.
      They want to keep Turkey out of EU, because Turkey is “Muslim”

      Christian Non-Separation: Many others

      Hindu Separation: India, Nepal

      Buddhist Separation: Japan, Korea, Vietnam Indo China

      Buddhist Non-Separation: Sri Lanka, Thailand, Burma

      Jim Softy, You can add and correct this quick draft.

      The end goal is an Egalitarian Society, free of Myths.

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    Muslims live harmony with the others only when their numbers are negligible.

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      Jim Softy,

      This is true for Christians, Buddhist and Hindus as well.

      The problem is Monk, Priest and Mullah Hegemony. Look at History. Inquisition, India, Burma, Sri Lanka, etc.

      http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/headlines/2013/10/bishop-deluxe-flies-economy-to-see-pope-francis/

      ‘Bishop DeLuxe’ Flies Economy to See Pope Francis

      Renovations to his official residence near Frankfurt reportedly cost more than $40 million, including $475,000 for walk-in closets, $20,000 for the bishop’s bathtub plus a heated roof for his private chapel.

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    Merger or no merger of the North and East need not be the main question. What is important for the two communities, Tamils and Muslims is to work together. They both have two things in common. Both speak a common language, Tamil and both face oppression from the majority community. So, to safeguard themselves, they must work hard to achieve more devolution to the two provinces, if need be even asymmetrically. The two communities should look for ways and means of working together to serve mutual interests.

    Sengodan. M

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    The more reason for the Security Forces to be strengthened in the North and East just in case of another uprising by the Muslims and the Tamils. Can you blame anyone for the precautionary measures. This is not racism just self protection in a United Sri Lanka. The more you agitate the more you tire of the freedom you now have.
    Muslims are helping the rise of the Neo-Fascists in Continental Europe. Recent results of provincial elections in France show that the National Front of Jean-Marie Le Pen’s daughter is now the first party in France. I hope your veiled threats to the Sri Lankan government are heard before the extremists start drumming up support reading what crap you write in Colombo Telegraph.

  • 0
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    All praise be to God, a good effort in the way of uniting or bring about an understanding between politically and ethnically divided communities. The formula is simple – united, we all stand; divided, we all fall.

    • 0
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      Only True Allah Is the Lord Buddha.

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    Tamil-muslim Rapproachment? What nonsense. Muslims will never trust the Tamils. Ask Thonda why there are no muslims in his party.

    • 0
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      QURAN says that every one in this world MUST be a Muslims.

      So, how can a muslims trust a Tamil.

      It is against Islam, quran, or what Mohomad said.

  • 0
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    sinhalese should get together and wipe out the both minorities (tamils and muslims). they have become a bloody pain

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      ela kolla

      “sinhalese should get together and wipe out the both minorities (tamils and muslims). they have become a bloody pain”

      Tell me about it.

      No just put them on boats back to their ancestral homelands the same way your brethren VP dealt with the Muslims in the early 90s.

      This will make our job easier when we put the Sinhala/Buddhists on boats and say bye bye to them. Then we will have fewer people to deal with.

      • 0
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        umbe [Edited out] [Edited out], [Edited out] vedda

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          ela kolla

          “umbe [Edited out] [Edited out], [Edited out] vedda”

          Great commentary on Sinhala/Buddhism.

          Buddhagosha should have awaited until your arrival.

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          This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
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          • 0
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            ela kolla

            Thanks brilliant

          • 0
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            Ela Kollo. CT is indirectly saying ‘Pala Kolla’ to you.
            Stop your nonsense, gobbledygook, nuisance, mumbo jumbo and rest in peace soon. We wil rewrite the history of Srilanka to Ceylon again.

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    Have you ever heard Rapprochement of two sects of muslims. That has never happened. Always the major muslim sect would eliminate the weaker muslims sect.

    It is the same in Sri Lanka. It is same else where in the world. Muslims do that to other believers.

    IF muslims can kill and blow up in the name of QURAN and if they can lie in the name QURAN what else they can not do.

    What Buddha said, One who lies can not be trusted for any reason.

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    Hakeem,

    You pose a number Questions and let us explore it constructively.

    First of all let us get the record straight. There are no Sinhalese Muslims and we have coexisted for centuries as brothers with the only thing dividing us as the religion. Sri Lankan struggle has always been along Ethnic lines and not along religious divide so one can take comfort from the fact if the Ethnic divide can be bridged the Religious healing will follow.

    The total population of Muslims in Sri Lanka is 8% aginst the Tamil Pouplation made up of Hindus and Christians is about 16%. Muslims are scattered all over the country and in the North and East they are concentrated in the following areas.

    Ampara — Where they are the largest number
    Trinco
    Mannar
    Batticaloa
    Jaffna.

    The displaced Muslims came mostly from Jaffna & Mannar and there is no question what so ever that they have to be resettled in those areas and may be compensated for.
    But whatever misery the Muslim brohren who were driven out faced brought it upon themselves by spying on the LTTE for the army so therefore they were considered as traitors.
    Look what happened to SF who was a decorated 4 Star General jailed for being considered a Traitor.
    But that aside Hakeem is an opportunist and I wouldnt trust him for a Rupee as he is shedding crocodile tears.
    But there are positive signs as TNA has gone to great lengths to accommodate the Muslims and we have a long way to go.
    Mr.Wigneswara has already served notice that the Merger of the North and East is not negotiable and therefore it will happen.
    It is up to the Mulims brothren to accept the hand of Friendship and work together and we will respect your religious beliefs and to be fair to the Sri Lankan Mulslims they have never shown any religious fanticism.
    I am hopeful for the future and March 2014 is when a new Dawn will break.

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    It was a typing error and it should have been addressed to Rameez ( not Hakeem and no offence intended) and my apologies.

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