By Izeth Hussain –
I must add a couple of details to show the extent to which I was pro-Tamil. I not only advocated that a mausoleum be built to honor the war dead on both sides but I also went to the extent of saying that it should bear the inscription “May you be born among us in your next birth”, which t he ancient Chinese used to honor the bravery of their fallen enemies. Another detail worth mentioning is that after 2009 I was consistently and outspokenly critical of the Rajapaksa Government for its prevarication and downright dishonesty over the implementation of 13 A, arguing that no amount of devolution would lead to separation. I want the reader to bear in mind that I was adopting all those pro-Tamil positions even during times when the then Government was dangerously intolerant of dissent and white vans were merrily in operation. I could have been branded as a traitor just for that suggestion about the inscription on the proposed mausoleum, and indeed I was attacked as a traitor some weeks ago in a lengthy three-part article by a well-known ultra-nationalist Sinhalese. Against the background set out here, it is surely mind-boggling that the Tamil racists have insisted, and have kept on insisting, that I have always been a rabid anti-Tamil racist.
The attacks against me that began suddenly in the Colombo Telegraph (CT) subsided for a brief while, resumed again and continued, altogether for a period of several months, after which they stopped completely. I wrote two articles based on the material provided by the attacks against what I called Tamil anti-Muslim lunatic fringe racism. Surprisingly there were no responses, none whatever, from the Tamils who had been attacking me. It is not difficult to reconstruct at least part of what had been happening. Evidently the attacks were concerted ones, perhaps concerted by the LTTE, perhaps – according to speculation in CT columns – by foreign groups such as the Zionists, Norwegian and other Islamophobic groups, Neocons, who were using Tamil Islamophobic racists to promote a foreign agenda. It is reasonable to surmise that there were influential Tamils who were appalled that one of the most pro-Tamil of all non-Tamils was being subjected for months on end to attacks that frequently showed hysterical hatred and mad dog rage. Obviously common sense – so obvious that the commonsensical reasons need not be spelt out – required that the Tamils get closer to the Muslims, not alienate them. It is understandable therefore that the concerted attacks stopped and there were no responses when I went on the offensive against the Tamil racists in a couple of articles.
If the concerted attacks have stopped, why am I kicking up a row about it all just now? The concerted attacks by seven to ten Tamils on every article of mine stopped long ago, but since then practically every article of mine has drawn attacks by one, two, or three Tamils, showing sometimes the same hysterical hatred and mad dog rage. A highly significant fact is that my articles draw Tamil fire even when they have nothing to do with Tamils, not even remotely. For instance I recently wrote a two-part article on the Kishani Jayasinghe contretemps on the last National Day. Discussions were proceeding smoothly in the CT columns at a sophisticated intellectual level, and most of the contributions were interesting. Suddenly a Tamil opened fire against me, unabashedly declaring that what he had to say had nothing to do with my article: he declared that I had been proved to be a boastful liar. Immediately another Tamil seconded him. I was stunned. The second part of the article quickly elicited an outrageously racist attack by Saraswathi, which again had absolutely nothing to do with my article. It provoked a brilliant rejoinder by a Sinhalese who was supported by other Sinhalese, not by Tamils. It was apparent that Tamil racists found it unbearable that I, a Soni – a Tamil term of contempt for Muslims – could write on matters cultural and be taken seriously. It cannot be controverted that Tamil Islamophobic racism badly needs in-depth analysis.
The material pointing to that racism is available in abundant measure in the CT archives, but I cannot expect the average reader to excavate material going way back into the past. I will mention therefore just a few of the gems of sparkling idiocy produced by Tamil Islamophobes. I quoted the reply of Somerset Maugham when asked what would be the fate of the French people under Nazi occupation: “Eat shit”. A Tamil racist insisted that I had thereby insulted the Tamils by associating them with shit. Unbelievable, but it’s all there in black and white. I have used the term “Soni” to indicate Tamil contemptuousness towards the Muslims, but a Tamil racist insists that by using that term I myself am showing contempt for the Muslims. Unbelievable again. One Tamil wrote that the Muslims in Sri Lanka are multiplying “like rats” while another wrote that they are multiplying “like piglets”. I faulted both, and the latter has just replied that he has seen Muslims in Europe eat bacon and other produce of the pig and so do some Muslims in Sri Lanka. Evidently he is unable to understand that saying that an ethnic group is multiplying “like piglets” is hate speech of a culpable order, for which he can be jailed in countries like Britain. It is clear that some Tamils have been bestialized by Islamophobic hatred.
We have on our hands a glaring paradox: we have on the one hand a Muslim who has been one of the most pro-Tamil of the non-Tamils and on the other we have Tamils who have been relentlessly attacking him on the ground that he has always been a rabid anti-Tamil racist. At present there is only one Tamil who has tried to resolve this paradox: he alleges that I advocated famine as a weapon to subdue the Tamil rebellion, and that is why the Tamils started attacking me. In the past there were several Tamils who made that allegation, but their numbers dropped after I cited material to show that I had advocated precisely the opposite: using famine as a weapon would prove to be dangerously counter-productive to the Sinhalese side.
If any reader is interested he can get to Google and click on “Izeth Hussain’s reply to K. Arvind – 2006”. This is what I wrote: “In the concluding paragraph I alerted the reader to the danger posed by reported food shortages in Jaffna. Can any reader, outside the lunatic asylum, really believe that in the same article I was advocating famine as a weapon?” There is further relevant material which it would be superfluous to quote. There were no further published retorts from Arvind probably because the Editor had concluded that I had established my case beyond dispute. Why is one solitary Tamil now engaging in blatant lying? He probably believes that if he keeps on throwing mud some of it will stick.
My contacts have been unanimous that if I had been as fulsomely pro-Sinhalese as I have been pro-Tamil, the Sinhalese would never have subjected me to protracted attacks in which there was a near total abandonment of rationality and moral scruple. On the contrary they would have been generously friendly in their response. There are of course Sinhalese racists – a very nasty and brutal lot – but on the whole they have been far less anti-Muslim than the Tamil racists. The Tamil racism has been shown of course not just in the attacks against me but also in the attacks on the Muslims as a whole. I have in mind in particular the genocidal expulsion of around 90,000 Muslims from the North. True some Muslims may have been engaged in espionage on behalf of the Sinhalese but the expulsion of Muslims on that scale, within a few hours notice and each Muslim being allowed to take only Rs 100, shows that Tamil anti-Muslim racism is bestial. I must refer also to the Eastern Province mosque massacres. It is true that Muslim home guards got together with the STF and drove out Tamils from several villages, but – as noted by Rajan Hoole – that was in retaliation for what the Tamils had perpetrated against the Muslims.
I will conclude this part of my article with the following telling quotation from Rajan Hoole’s Palmyra Fallen: “Regrettably no section of the Tamil community – neither the Tamil National Alliance nor the Church – has made a statement welcoming the Muslims back. Nor has the Tamil community helped its Muslim countrymen to repossess what is theirs. The TNA’s statements on returning IDPs and issues in the North East rarely if ever take Northern Muslims into account; Tamil politicians generally mention the Muslim community when doing so supports a case against the State. No one has properly acknowledged all that Tamil nationalism cost the Muslims”.