7 August, 2020

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The Danger In Forcing The Muslims To The Wall: By Ignoring Their Legitimate Concerns! 

By Haaris Mahmud

Haaris Mahmud

The idiom ‘Forcing a person to the wall’ means to push someone to an extreme position; to put someone into an awkward position. The Muslims of Sri Lanka too feel that they are being unnecessarily driven towards an awkward position in recent times, arising from the unreasonable standpoint of the establishment with regard to the cremation issue, as well as the impunity regards the well-orchestrated demonization  campaign being waged both in the media and through dog-whistles against the Muslims, with the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) and the law enforcement authorities turning a blind eye to such machinations. It is a shame that the All Ceylon Muslim Theologians Body (ACJU) as well as the so-called Muslim political leadership and the civil Muslim organizations have been taking a laissez faire approach, to this growing cancer, thus implicitly appearing to fall in line with the official position on cremation and tolerating the official apathy on anti-Muslim hate. Thus, Muslims caught in-between, are wondering whether these ‘representative’ bodies of the community are acting in fear of a majoritarian government surviving on a racist vote-base to win the next election, or is it mere self-centred-ness (to safeguard their lot), without considering the adverse consequences both in the world and the next (as they believe) for overlooking these injustices? 

There has been much heat than light, already been generated in the rogue sections of the Sri Lankan media as well as in the social media,with regard to the on-going issue regarding the cremation of Covid deaths, with much accusations being levelled at the Sri Lankan Muslims albeit unreasonably, that they are unpatriotic, selfish and also unaccommodating. This is further from the truth. Be it as it may, in terms of all applicable perspectives through which this issue can be viewed at- whether rights, theological or scientific/medical perspectives, any independent analyst will easily spot the unreasonable position taken by the health authorities and by extension the GoSL in respect of this sensitive issue affecting the Muslims in particular, although it is also an issue of relevance to the Christians too. 

‘Choosing the burial over the cremation option’ is not an issue to hit at the patriotism of the Muslim community. It is an issue which has been unreasonably created by the authorities in Sri Lanka with no acceptable scientific or medical basis either within Sri Lanka or in a global sense. The denial of the burial option through a gazette notification to such effect, is rather a stubborn and obstinate move of the GoSL to stifle the rights of those who opt for such option( particularly the Muslims). The media release by the Presidential Media division published by Shivanthi Ranasinghe, Director International relations and Foreign media appears to confirm that even the President is in agreement. She also stated that ‘ill effects’ of burying such bodies may even be seen, thousands of years later, (citing some mysterious deaths when opening ancient graves), which is rather humorous to say the least.

The premier medical professional body was clear in their stance in this regard. The GMOA has recommended that a panel be appointed to study this subject, accepting in their letter to the Director General of Health Dr Jasinghe that both options are available under the WHO guidelines. This suggestion was not heeded. Many Muslim and non-Muslim medical and scientific professionals have made also representations to the Health authorities about the safety of the burial option and all their appeals have fallen into deaf ears. Dr Paba Palihawadana, Chief Epidemiologist, Director, Central Epidemiological Unit, Ministry of Health, Sri Lanka, in fact clearly stated in an interview that Covid dead bodies have no adverse effect on the water table or that waterways cannot be contaminated as a result (a doubt most commentators raised and the government quoted in justifying their position). With regard to the WHO guidelines, it is not necessary to repeat that their position is clear enough allowing burial and cremation option. In fact, they tweeted that it is only a cultural decision and non-allowance of burials has no scientific or epidemiological basis at all. Besides, the official authorities have not shown any acceptable scientific reason to rule out the burial option. In fact, the Muslim community has made it very clear that they will have no objection for cremation, if such a scientific basis is shown, based on WHO guidelines. But to date there is no such explanation; rather the racist sections of the Media are weaving one racist story after another to show that Muslims are not falling in line with the views of the medical profession. It is an outright lie propagated with malicious intentions to demonise the Muslims. A UK expert, Dr Feroze M Mubarak, COVID-19 Practice Strategy Lead based in London, also dispelled the fallacies about the possible risks arising from burials too. 

As is known, Muslims follow Islamic guidelines in planning out their lifestyles and last rites. From a theological standpoint, it is clear that Islam forbids cremation of the dead, based on the Quranic principle of Karamah (dignity to be bestowed on the human being whether alive or dead). According to Muslim scholars, this dignity is accorded even in death, by according a decent burial (without allowing the body to be ‘tortured’ by way of burning) – to all , whether Muslim or not in a Muslim land. However, there may be very strict exceptions to the rule based on necessity for example if it is proved that there is a clear danger to the living when an infected body is so buried.(The reason why bathing the body and enshrouding is not observed in respect of Covid deaths). But, there is no acceptable scientific evidence in support of the such position. The reason why over 182 countries are adopting the burial procedure without any controversy.

Thus, when the religious/cultural practice of burial, with no compelling scientific evidence to the contrary, is denied to the Muslim community, then the natural inference is that their rights have been denied both unreasonably and with malicious intentions other than on logical grounds; which tantamount to racism. Muslims, like all other citizens belonging to other nationalities enjoy many fundamental rights under the constitution as well as under the obligations of the State to protect certain rights as per international legal regimes. Right to choose a religion and freely practice one and a culture of his/her choice are among them. From a rights perspective, no one denies that Muslims have a burial right according to the religion/ culture they follow and that it cannot be violated (human rights) by forcing cremation upon them unless there are compelling reasons to do so.(utilitarian value). 

The Rights Approach focuses on respect for human dignity. This approach holds that our dignity is based on our ability to choose freely how we live our lives, and that we have a moral right to respect for our choices as free, equal, and rational people, and a moral duty to respect others in the same way. In a democracy like Sri Lanka, all citizens have certain unalienable rights. The term “right” is defined to be a “justified claim that individuals and groups can make upon other individuals or upon society; to have a right is to be in a position to determine by one’s choices, what others should do or need not do.” Rights can be legal in nature, or pertain to human rights or moral rights.The opposite of rights based ethics are utilitarian ethics. Utilitarian ethics are based on the maximization of “good outcomes” and minimizations of “bad outcomes.” Utilitarian calculations on taking or sparing lives seem unavoidable in some situations, where a utilitarian calculation to save several lives would outweigh the one innocent life. Thus, not even an innocent person’s right to life appears absolute. Human rights no doubt face significant hurdles in trying to balance them with utilitarian values when applying them universally across cultural, religious and political divides. However, in the case of the denial of the burial option to the Sri  Lankan Muslims, GoSL cannot rely on the utilitarian arguments, as the strong body of evidence from reputable organisations have clearly shown that the burial poses no more danger to the environment and/or the people than the cremation option. 

Already, apart from  WHO stating its clear position on the burial Issue; 4 UN Special Rapporteurs including the UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of religion wrote to the President, requesting the GoSL to reconsider the provisions in the MoH Guideline by taking into account of the key considerations provided by WHO Guideline for the disposal of the bodies of human beings deceased from the COVID-19, and revise the circular accordingly. The gazette notification ruling out the burial option was issued notwithstanding such requests. This underlines the audacity of the GoSL in not paying heed to international opinion and practices. This callous approach was seen even in the disregard of the UN HR resolution on Sri Lanka relevant to alleged war crimes as well. Recently, an army offender Sunil Rathnayake, who allegedly committed murder of Tamil victims, and was sentenced to death was given presidential pardon, misusing powers under the Constitution.

Then comes the official silence on the on-going anti-Muslim demonization campaign seen on a daily basis in the racist sections of the Sri Lankan Media like Derana/Hiru TV and Divaina Newspaper. The nation saw how Dr Shaffie’s case was unfairly highlighted by Divaina, after the Easter Sunday attacks, which was instigated by the likes of  Ratana Thero et el to demonise the entire community. It is a mystery why the so-called ICCPR and the penal code laws cannot be applied to these openly racist Media outlets. It was clear as daylight that the Muslim community not only totally condemned the vile acts of this fringe extremist group among them who carried out the barbaric Easter Sunday attacks, but there were also evidence that the authorities deliberately overlooked and ignored the community warnings of the emergence of this violence prone group, apart from intelligence warnings. 

Further, during the parliamentary select committee hearings on the Easter Sunday attacks, evidence led revealed that Zahrans were created partly because of the lack of  action by the authorities in regard to and the impunity with which, many anti-Muslim communal attacks were carried out by  hate groups. Ven Gnanassara who instigated the Aluthgama attacks operated without any fear or sanction; worse of all he was even given presidential pardon for committing a contempt of court. Those who were prosecuted for Digana and Minuwangoda anti-Muslim violence were released. Thus, these types of impunity, false shows, inaction and indifference on the part of the GoSL and its’ law enforcement arm and the armed forces, to prosecute the hate peddlers and offenders, will create future Zahrans, Prabakarans and Wijeweeras,  as the history has proved. 

Both ‘push’ (These include: marginalization and discrimination; poor governance, impunity for racist crimes, violations of human rights and the Rule of Law; prolonged and unresolved conflicts; and radicalization in prisons), and ‘pull’ (which includes distortion and misuse of beliefs, political ideologies and ethnic and cultural differences;) factors, act as drivers towards violent extremism, as was illustrated by the ‘troubles’ in Sri Lanka and many other parts of the world. Violent extremism also tends to thrive in an environment characterized by injustice, poor governance, democracy deficits, corruption and a culture of impunity for unlawful behaviour engaged in by the State or its agents.

Then, there is also the growing fear that President Gotabaya is getting into the dreaded former Defence Secretary’s garb. For whatever the defects or faults of the Yahapalana government were, people then experienced more freedom of expression. They criticised the rulers freely. Today, there seems to be a fear not only among the grass-root levels, but even the intellectuals seem hesitant to express their views freely. This ‘Iron curtain’ rule, will have a death knell effect on the working of democracy. This sense of fear has afflicted the Muslim leadership and local intellectuals too; the near silence and hesitancy to stand up for their community is deafening, when their just rights are infringed at will by a government voted in, on a majoritarian, nationalist mandate. A Muslim social activist named Ramzy,  who spoke about the  need for the Muslims to wage an ideological struggle ( which he called an ideological Jihad) to counter the increasing hate campaign, was remanded recently. This is shameful for a leader who stated at the Independence Day event that those rights to speak freely and criticize the government will be assured. Sadly, this is not to be. 

The President thus should create a mechanism to consult widely with minority representatives across the country and respect their sensitivities. GoSL should allow people to vent their frustrations about the government in legitimate ways and tolerate dissent. They must give an ear to the reasonable grievances and aspirations of the minorities and end the chronic impunity crisis besetting Sri Lanka in respect of both corruption and racism, and be fair to all, without surrendering to the majoritarian compulsions of the electorate. Respecting and allowing the burial rights of the Muslims specially when supported by scientific evidence, and ending the continuing demonization of the Muslims and the impunity are not special privileges afforded to them. It is being fair by them as equal citizens of Sri Lanka and taking preventive action on possible future emergence of extremism, which led to much suffering in Sri Lanka in the past. Fairness is what justice really is. Do what matters, now, before regretting later.

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Latest comments

  • 10
    14

    If things go wrong Demalu can at least swim across the Palk Strait. You guys will have no choice other than to jump to the Indian Ocean. None of the Muslim countries will bother about Demala Muslims. So keep your rhetoric to yourself. Do not think that you can intimidate Sinhalayo. The days that ‘Tail wagged the Dog’ is over.

    Rohingya Muslims who went to Bangladesh and Thailand are stuck in these countries. None of the Muslim countries were willing to take Rohingyas who went to Thailand.

    • 6
      8

      Is this a threat Haaris? Better SL Intel goes into action before it is too late. Another 2009 on the way. Can’t wait!

      • 8
        5

        Gatam,

        Yes it is threat. But I am with Mahmud on this one. I’d say bring it on. Our boys have been idling in the barracks for too long. And they need some actions. Both with their machine guns and also with their Pistols if you know what I mean.

        If the ugly looking Tamils girls could offer such good war trophies, imagine what the better looking Muslim girls could offer. After all, in the end that will be what will bring in reconciliation amongst the two communities.

        And for all those who are thinking of War crimes, let me tell you this all about peace and reconciliation.

        • 3
          2

          Peace Rtd. Lt. Reginald Shamal Perera! May you live long and prosper. May Allah (PBUH) keep you healthy and safe.

          I’m winning the Holy War in killing hate, fear, sin and ignorance. The Holy War is fought internally. Not externally. With Allah (PBUH) by my side I know I can win it.

        • 4
          0

          Rtd. Lt Perera. You are a total disgrace to the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka if you indeed are a retired member of the service which I somehow doubt you are. The manner in which you have written supposedly admitting to rape and condoning condoning rape is below the dignity of a private, let alone an officer.

          • 3
            0

            Fred Silva
            Rtd. Lt Perera. You are a total disgrace to the Armed Forces of Sri Lanka
            ———–
            Actually he is speaking the truth. Sinhalese soldiers have always lacked discipline and had a penchant for rape.
            They got caught twice running child prostitution rings while serving the UN in haiti. This is not mere rumour but it was confirmed by the UN itself.
            Tamils in the north and east have complained for decades of sinhalese soldiers and their sexual misconduct during the war time.
            It was dismissed as ‘LTTE propaganda’ until the UN haiti incidents.

      • 4
        2

        So you must be ready to go to the front line, forgetting that you will be on your own without any international backing this time round! Do not wish for something, only to regret later!! Suggest you follow lord Buddha’s teaching in letter and spirit!

        • 3
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          The whole world supports SL in such a war – USA, Russia, India, Israel, France, UK, China. Guess what they all fight the same war elsewhere. Watch world news please.

    • 4
      4

      Yes, Deamalu can swim both ways across the Palk straight (not one way as you suggest)., and hence dedtrimental if you would like to preserve a mon-ethnic Srilanka.

      • 0
        3

        Dr Rajanayagam Rajendran,
        Sri Lankan Navy is capable to make it ‘One Way Ticket’, not to moon but to Dravida Nadu.

        • 2
          1

          Eagle Brain Dead Blind Eye

          “Sri Lankan Navy is capable to make it ‘One Way Ticket’, not to moon but to Dravida Nadu.”

          Sure Navy can only make it one way because the SL Navy owns rusting metal frames that were donated by Hindia, for example ageing ‘Sagara’, Sayura, and various other Indian build Offshore Patrol Vessels ?

      • 1
        0

        Some may sink while swimming and boating without a trace. TN is more developed than SL today. Not many will make the trip from TN to SL today. The other way is more likely. Comparing Chennai and Jaffna is like comparing Toronto and Yemen.

    • 4
      2

      Harris Mahmoud,

      Thanks for a well-written article. What is missing is the validity or the invalidity of the beliefs based on evidence.

      Safety of the living should be the first priority. The dead, is water under the bridge. The past, not the future. The reason the Muslims bury their dead within 24 hours is for the safety of the living.

      The Wuhan China -19 virus, renamed COVID-19 virus, comprising a single strand of RNA, like other viruses evolved millions of years ago before humans, primates and their beliefs.

      The virus is very egalitarian , when it comes to infecting humans. The virus does not care about human beliefs, soul, after life etc., that are are not evidence-based. Humans have to follow the rules set by the virus.

      So, isolate from other humans, do not congregate based on cultural and religious beliefs. The virus will get you .

      This should be the message to the Muslims.

      Give Muslims and others, some lessons in virology and immunology along with a sprinkling of molecular biology and evolution. It will help contain the virus more than the unproven beliefs.

      These things happen based in God’s will, cremation or burial, as the God is All Knowing, per the Holy Quran .

      • 1
        1

        Wow! this guy is a ‘Jack of All Trades’. Sometime back he was an expert on DNA, then he became an expert on Tham-paiya’s Buddhism and now he has become an expert on Corona. Trump should have hired this guy.

      • 1
        0

        You should now that virus can’t survive an without living organism. And to make the jump it must have to mutate its single RNA. Please don’t make idiotic comments with a hateful mindset.

    • 0
      1

      Goebbels Eye / “Goebbels I” – the sinnedheloo, the shit from the loo
      You people owe the Tamils a lot culturally, linguistically, economically and socially. Recently your kind celebrated the New Year that was borrowed from Tamils with Pongal like cooking of Paalsoaru (kiribath), and still borrowing the Tamils’ way of life. Your eyes are certainly blind, as many commentators say in this website about you, as you wouldn’t have seen my earlier post on this subject.
      It was the successive SinnedHela governments (since J.R.J’s presidency ) practised divide and rule policy to separate Tamils into two, and at last you have accepted that Muslims are Tamils as stated by you above.
      From the Pandu Nadu queen of bastard and bestial Vijaya (as stated in the comic book makavamsam, and he got down 700 wives for his thug friends as well) to the last king (of Kandy) are Tamils, and Tamils live in this land from time immemorial.
      By the way, do you write these post in hallucination after self satisfying you thinking of Sakya Muni’s bottom.
      EmAG

  • 7
    8

    Every day more and more articles by Muslim writers regarding their ‘legitimate concerns’. Is this what you call legitimate concerns? http://www.sundaytimes.lk/190505/news/unravelling-growing-arabisation-348076.html
    .
    These are the very legitimate concerns of the majority. When they can take no more and retaliation comes, don’t blame ‘Sinhala racism’, ‘the saffron robed thugs’ or the ‘rapist army’. The Muslims would have brought retaliation on themselves.

  • 7
    9

    Such a good article with full of facts and reveals. We need more similar writers, not noding writers. Thank you. Take care from vultures around.

    • 4
      1

      197 have been arrested over the Easter Sunday terrorist attack. That seems to be the real thing. Not cremation.

  • 9
    3

    Haaris Mahmud:-
    No One should have to push anyone against a Wall!
    People with Religious Beliefs, that put other people at the Risk of contacting a Virus disease, should think about the best way of preventing the Spread of disease, and act accordingly.
    It is the Family and Friends who have to handle a Corpse of a Person who died of the Virus, who is most at Risk!

    • 3
      3

      Can’t you understand English? D I d you read this article in full? Your concerns are all addressed here

      If WHO guidelines are clear and those scientific and medical professionals and experts are saying there is no risk in burials, what is your issue. What risks are you talking about?
      Half baked pakir you are?

  • 2
    1

    It is interesting to read according a writers draft and fact.Accordong to some comments belonging to the majority community.I still think they have not got the message of understanding properly or ignores to understand.bit still there are a lot of poeple among the Sinhalese eho are very reasonable and understands the gravity of anotber race.
    Besides spart from blaming and finding fault with the Government or some racist elements what are these Acju doing? I dought they are the poeple who are doing sll these deals by self appointing them as the Representstive for Muslims.also If United Nations and WHO advisers to rdspect the last rights of a community what if they didnt abide by it?Then your sctions has to be focussed against WHO & the United Nations and not with tbe Government or the socslled racist elements.If you cannot do it please inform all these ACJU &Muslim League etc to shut down their officers without creating chaos to the general public.Thry are poeple who are hunting with the hunters and Running with the Rabbits, only to pause to camera. There are many a countries I have visitef they respect tbe Halal cert.but hear the acju tried to demand What happened? the so called popular leader hsnded over to someone and became silent after creating a big issue.(A lost case even among the Muslim community)He made his buck.all these started just since 20 or 25 years.Did we consumed Haraam in Sri Lanka or did our ladies went Naked? we had a very good relationship among other community and with a better understanding.what went wrong is, I agree with the latest influences from India &Pakistan from these new groups.but theu they the ones who are domunating the Masjids and talking terms with the Goverment.
    Its tgd Bitter truth whether someone like it or not.

  • 3
    2

    It is sad that this country has no space for alternative discourse in a civilised way.

    • 2
      0

      Marka,
      No point in being Sad just allow Gota to Run the country.

  • 1
    1

    I think Harris is saying that Bathiuddin group brought a container load of Swords for the struggle. why Muslim community is superior when there are other communities. why you cannot listen to the rights or needs of other communities.

  • 2
    1

    I believe that there are too many articles from Muslims about burial rites. They are far too disproportionate to their ethnic composition in Sri Lanka. Wherever Muslims are a minority, their voices seem to be too loud, whether in Europe or Asia. They seem to be complaining about the injustices they suffer, like when a Muslim is killed by covid-19 their dead bodies not being allowed to putrefy and rot, with maggots crawling all over their stinking decomposing bodies rather than go up in a cloud of relatively less toxic smoke. I also believe that when these bodies are burnt, at least their smoke can go up to their god in heaven. While they might dislike this being mentioned, Muslim majority countries hardly allow other faiths the kinds of freedoms that more tolerant countries practice. Rather than appreciate the relative freedoms they enjoy, if they feel they’re pushed against a wall, either the wall has to give way or they could eventually get crushed against it.

  • 0
    0

    I saw a lot of borderline racial comments made by some WHO awarded virologists and epidemiologists. When you analyze a request please consider some science not racism.

  • 3
    1

    International Covid-19 Response Rank Index shows that Sri Lanka is the first among the developing countries and New Zealand is the first among the Developed. On the Entire World Index SL is the 9th.
    How did SL manage to be at such a commendable level so far with extremely limited resources?
    SL has generally identified the common enemy as Covid-19 just like any other country. President GR, however, made several important decisions after discussing with relevant authorities and implemented them through correct channels quickly. His ‘Follow-UP’ plan was the best! Even his political opponents agree that he handled the pandemic with care.
    In other words, SL did not let the enemy take the upper hand by letting it decide the next step. When most countries are still on the defensive SL has been clearly on the offensive ever since! The relevant ‘battalion’ goes after the enemy (Covid) and it can not hide easily! (With all due respect to our Tamil brothers and sisters, we can just imagine as to how GR, as the then Defense Secretary, must have planned and implemented the war strategy against the LTTE!)
    Now let’s see what has gone wrong with the WHO!
    WHO has been publishing general guidelines only, and they are not concrete decisions to be followed; its up to individual countries to decide how to localize those guidelines, if and when necessary. Some Muslims have mistaken the difference, as they always do.
    US President Trump has criticized WHO and withdrawn the funds given to WHO yesterday. His impression is that WHO is of no use for the US in the fight against Covid-19! That’s not correct either! We should appreciate what everybody else does including WHO.
    However, minority communities should not rock the boat in the midst of a storm!

  • 2
    2

    The Danger In Forcing The Muslims To The Wall: By Ignoring Their Legitimate Concerns!

    Now the world understand what to eat and what not eat. In singapore the go for halal food that means
    permissble food for consumtion. Main cause of virus eating ,Scientists identified two possible root causes of Coronavirus: the consumption of wildlife.

  • 2
    0

    Big fuss over dead bodies.

    Dead bodies don’t have life, Muslims know that, so understand it makes no difference whether buried or cremated.

    Only Buddhists can oppose cremation because dead bodies carry life such as bacteria, virus etc.

    Alas, Buddhists acting as Muslims & Muslims acting as Buddhists.

  • 1
    0

    I beg the reader to read between the lines of this article by an obvious Moslem fundamentalist. He seems to know what his fellow Moslem maniacs are working on. What he is signaling is that Moslems will erupt in violent, barbaric terrorism soon, because they cannot subjugate and control Lanka under the current leaders unlike the cuckolds who were in charge in April 2019. Ignore the mumbo jumbo about how fair and balanced their requests are, in a pandemic situation no sane person should even think about anything but total prevention of the spread of the pandemic, hence cremation of corpses, regardless of ethnic or religious traditions. His article is a call to arm for the Moslems as well as a subtle warning to the Lankans that the terror of Easter Sunday will be repeated with multifold power, perhaps using nerve gas agents smuggled to Western Lanka from Terroristan (aka Pakistan). I urge the Lankans to be vigilant. Unspeakable terror is coming, and you cannot sit and ignore it. Watch every Moslem and their movements with eagle eyes and put the country of a total war footing. Incarcerate the most likely terrorists under emergency rule, use whatever means to extract from them the terror plans. DO NOT let another Easter Sunday repeat in Lanka, ever!!

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