2 June, 2023


The Rally For Unity And The Reluctant Infidels

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

I was delighted to see the story item in the Colombo Telegraph (27 April 2013) last night about the ‘Rally for Unity’ organized by some ‘unknowns’ on the general slogan “Hate has No Place in Sri Lanka” to be held at Green Path (in few hours’ time from now) and then saw this commendable movie “The Reluctant Infidel” on SBS One at 9.30pm, Sydney time. The connection was too obvious.

The organizers of the ‘Rally for Unity’ declared that the purpose is “to show that moderates are strong and united against hate and are committed to promote understanding about the strengths of diversity and unity.” This was exactly the purpose of the movie I saw.

The movie was initially called in Britain just ‘The Infidel.’ The Australian producer added ‘reluctant’ in between for attraction or precise meaning. The writer David Baddiel thought that people are generally and irrationally obsessed and even terrified about their religion and race/ethnicity. When they go into identity crisis on these matters what they should actually do is to ‘step into the other one’s shoes’ and take a deep breath and laugh. It was with these thoughts that he wrote the script.

The rally organized today is not however a laughing matter. We still have to see how the law enforcement agencies, obviously on the government instructions, would treat the peaceful protesters. They were rough and in fact ‘unlawful’ at the last candle light vigil. As the organizers have emphasized, the effort is completely “non-partisan and a non-violent awareness campaign” organized by a “voluntary movement of concerned Sri Lankans from various institutions, professions and industries” who are opposing the “recent hate speech and the marginalization of minority communities in general.”

There is obviously a new type of protests emerging in Sri Lanka, a new social movement (NSM), so to say, among those who are against hate speech in this instance but could embrace many other injustices in the future. I first saw this phenomenon emerging during the Tsunami calamity in December 2004. Some youngsters came to the University of Colombo, obtained permission to hold a candle light vigil at the sports grounds to collect funds for the Tsunami victims and within hours they organized the event through SMS etc. with the participation of hundreds of people at that time. They were ‘Colombans’ from appearance but some of them came from remote rural Sri Lanka working in the private sector in Colombo. The expansion of the service sector is the backbone of these social sections.

The Movie

Let me get back to the movie, ‘The Reluctant Infidel.’

Mahmud Nasir is a successful small business owner in a London suburb, who always fights with his Jewish neighbor, Lenny Goldberg. Lenny is a taxi driver. After his mother’s demise, Mahmud discovers an adoption certificate among old documents which reveals that he was adopted from a Jewish family and his original name was Solly Shimshillewitz.

Mahmud although, or being, a funny man by nature goes into deep identity crisis with sleepless nights, frequent tantrums and virtual absent mindedness. His behavior has gone topsy-turvy. He tells his wife that he has to reveal ‘something about himself’ but doesn’t tell. Wife thinks that he is probably gay and even informs the local Imam for advice. Mahmud approaches his old adversary, Lenny, and he is most willing to offer help being an infidel himself and feeling amused about his Muslim adversary becoming a Jew now. This leads to more suspicions about his gayness, his new friend Lenny being a bachelor.

Mahmud’s son, Rashid, is engaged to Azma, the stepdaughter of a devout Muslim cleric, Arshad Al-Masri. When Mahmud reveals that he was a Jew (not he is), the engagement breaks down. Mahmud’s family also leaves him.

Mahmud finds his biological father Izzy Shimshillewitz in a Jewish old care center through Lenny. But he cannot see his father before latter’s death prevented by the Rabbi in charge, not believing the connection. How can you believe a Muslim son of a Jewish father! Izzy has given Soli for adoption in two weeks of his birth when Izzy’s wife dies at the child birth. Izzy has known that his son is a Muslim. Mahmud slowly overcomes his identity crisis, realizing that ‘he was a Jew,’ but now ‘he is a Muslim,’ although not a fanatic. He keeps friendship with the newly found Jewish friends. Both Lenny and Mahmud are ‘infidels.’

Mahmud finally manages to bring his son, Rashid, and Azma together by exposing the cleric, Arshad Al-Masri. Arshad in fact had been a rock star in the name of Gary Page whose original parents were scientologists. The movie ends with the interfaith wedding of Rashid and Azma attended by both Muslism and Jews.

The movie reveals the ‘impermanence’ of all categories of religion and race/ethnicity. Both should be taken in moderation. The unity in diversity is the best option for multiethnic and multi religious societies like Sri Lanka as the participants of the Rally for Unity will signify. Hate has no place in a civilized society. As one poster for the rally says, ‘Racism Stops with Me.’

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Latest comments

  • 0

    Just like Mahmud, I have also been called a “Jew” and a “Mossad agent” by many of the Muslim commentators on CT. One of my fellow bloggers, Lefroy, was threatened with death by an individual of a “particular persuasion”, after Lefroy made some comments about Islamic extremism. Interested readers may google “Lefroy’s Worldview” for more details.

    I would be very interested to know how many Muslims partake in this “Rally for Unity.” Perhaps Dr. Laksiri can also write an article about Muslim outreach towards the Jewish community in the past 50 years. Assuming that the latter is not non-existant. :) As I have said many times on CT, Sri Lanka leagues ahead of many of the “God-fearing” nations when it comes to racism, discrimination, and other issues pertaining to “human rights.” Buddhist Sri Lanka is just a small fish in a pond full of Abrahamic sharks.

    • 0

      You are awaited! The fellowship of the holy of the grail awaits you. You are referred and preferred by the higher order don’t be of otherwise deferring the sacrosanct sanctuary.

    • 0


    • 0

      Either write something worthwhile or dont write nothing. What were you really upto, some cok and bull story? or a BBS sidekick?

      • 0

        You’re missing the point entirely. You sound like a government school prodigy.

        • 0

          Lester, the commentator(s?) who sit(s) on a clay pedestal in a glass house, go home. Get a life, do something useful — you are expending far too much of energy on hating Muslims and spouting a lot of gobbledegook. Laksiri has written a gem of an article – which you, true to nature (or should it be agenda?) are now trying to use to confuse the issue.

          • 0

            The fact that you cannot answer my points clearly and calmly shows that your level of intelligence is gobbledegook. Perhaps it is time you rejoin your brothers in Arabia and limit yourself to simple tasks such as milking camels.

  • 0

    Great that the young generation and Face bookers have woken up! But they need to build up a coherent campaign to EDUCATE themselves and the people on the sorry state of governance and the ruling Rajafukser family plan to DIVIDE, DISTRACT and RULE Lanka by turning minorities into scapegoats for hate crimes by the Balu Sena that Gota the goon nurtures and funds.
    The Lanka Spring needs have a clear agenda FOR CHANGE and must network with other groups – FUTA for example – or it will fizzle out like the anti-Wall street protests. There needs to be a clearly articulated agenda for a people-friendly and transparent government.

    Also, a non-violent protest campaign to take back the streets of Colombo from the corrupt and speeding politicians and their military convoys and make them safe for citizens is needed. Politicians and their sons in racing cars must be held accountable for breaking speed limits.

    Also, we need to take back the streets from the visual pollution of politician’s posters and advertising campaign bill boards. Spray paint GRAFFITI over them – the students from the Institute of aestetics on Horton place – over to you!

  • 0

    Good initiative, but we moderate folk have a lot of work ahead to ensure Lanka celebrates MULTI-CULTURALISM and moves to a POSITIVE campaign for peace and reconciliation – rather the current “No to hate” campaign which is a good start but really a re-active campaign!

    In other words, we the people and YOUTH need to SET and LEAD the CULTURAL agenda, rather than react to the ruling half-educated military dictatorship’s policy of DIVIDE, DISTRACT and RULE Lanka.

    The Rajapassa establishment is racist and makes no bones about it. It has not notion of culture as a living process of ideas, beliefs, innovation, lived realities.. The regime’s cultural programs are arid, baron, stereotypes of some imagined ancient Sinhala culture that erase minorities and Lanka’s diverse cultures and makes Lanka seem like it is caught in a Sinhala nationalist time warp.

    Last evening I was at a Korean – Sri Lanka cultural show at the Nelum Pokuna to promoted north south reconciliation. The show was an all Sinhala affair – not a single word in Tamil or recognition of Tamil culture and a bet no Tamil folk were present in the audience bused in form Rajapassa strong holds.

    International donors should be more aware of how their funds for cultural promotion may be used by the uneducated and racist Sri Lanka regime which has not concept of MULTICULTURALISM.

    Ravibandu’s troop which opened the show and represented Lanka is very Sinhala culture centric and should try to incorporate other elements. Ravibandue presented a FROZEN, standardized, midiocre and POTTED image of nationalist Sinhala culture with no individual creativity. The Korean performances were an eye opener – focused on youth and musical innovation and technical virtuosity. Gangnam Style and all that – what a relief – it portrayed culture as a living and moving process of innovation by youth. What a relief when compared to the tired and banal performance of Ravi Bandu’s troop which had no relationship to the real world or popular youth culture and dance in Lanka.

  • 0

    So the moderates want to show that they are against hate and want to promote unity and divesity.


    Who do they want to show this to?.

    The great majority of the inhabitant population lived in absolute unity and harmony in 2/3rd of the land when the hate mongers were in full cry controlling the rest.

    No moderates or any of their supporters were anywhere to be seen preaching how good this unity and harmony is and how bad the hate is.

    The same great majority are doing the same now.

    Do they need to see anyone shouting sloagans to teach them what they have been practicing?.

  • 0

    Hats off to the organizers and to those going to take part in this!!!

    We are the children of one country and shouldn’t given into these dirty shameless, hoodlum politicians to divide and rule us, and them to make merry when in power with the people’s money.

    Lets see how the law enforcement going to act with their masters order to protect these peaceful, law abiding citizens, protest and voices?
    Now our Civil Society got the message well, loud and clear that these dirty, cunning, mean, selfish, brain dead, brain less, shameless and hoodlum politicians, let us down badly from the time we gained our independence from the British, it’s their greed for power brought us and the country to this grave and precarious situation.

    We don’t need none of them. Non-violently it’s time to take matters into people’s hands. The people are the master and they are our servants, they should obey and listen to our voices.

    It’s time for all who care for us and the country to come on the streets.

    Commonwealth please wait and watch the Rajapaksa goons behavior and how they going to enforce the law?

  • 0

    Great initiative by the fearless and the brave. To unite society is the need of the hour which the extremist forces disdain. Take a pledge for the unity of Sri Lanka across all divisions of race, religon and politics. These are the three dividing factors today that politicians are exploiting for their own selfish ends.

    All unite to build a safe, peaceful and prosperous Sri Lanka, North, South, East and West. Devoid of triumphalism, each caring for the other, one for all and all for one. Forgive and forget the mistakes of the past for the sake of bright and prosperous future for all.

  • 0

    Great, hats Off to the organizers.
    Lets chase the hate mongers. To hell with BBS.
    Go to hell Gota, MR, Champika, Machan Rathana, Machan GnanaSatan & Machan Suriyapperuma.

    MR’s regime is no more popular, its end is nearing and its imminent and inevitable.

  • 0

    Many Muslims attended today’s ” Rally for Unity”.

  • 0

    A very brave and First Step for Sri Lankans and especially for Sinhala True Buddhists.

    Sinhala Buddhism was hijacked by the 5th Century Monk Mahanama of Mahawansa-Fame and Notoriety. Monk Mahanama introduced Myths, not found in True Buddhism.

    These myths needs to be expunged from Lanka. Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Christians all are stuck with their own myths, and completely forget that the modern humans came out of Eastern Africa around 70,000 years ago. They are the same species, can mate with each other, and produce offspring like President Barak Hussein Obama of the United States, where his parents diverged 70,000 years ago.

    Sri Lanka needs a Native Obama to get out this Sinhala Buddhist Extremist hate out of the way.

    1. Myth: Sri Lanka is the Island only for Sinhala Buddhists.

    Monk Mahanama demonized the original natives, Yakkas, Nagas, Verddahs and others.
    Claimed Buddha was born in Lanka or visited Lanka, on the day the Prakrit, Jain or Hindu Vijaya Landed.

    Sri Lanka was Animist, Jain and Hindu before Buddhism came.

    It is rather unfortunate, there are hardly any Tamil Buddhists, courtesy of racist monk Mahanama.

    The Monk Mahanama, and many others who followed him, wanted to instill the myth, Monks are needed. They set themselves up, just like the Catholic Church and the Mullahs and other Priests, to be prostrated by the people and the kings, and looked after well. In Tibet 10 to 25% of the people were Monks, and others had to toil the land to provide for them.

    It is all right being a monk or priest, but need to produce, not depend entirely on others efforts. It is all right for a few monks, but not hundreds of thousands. They have nothing else to do, do not believe in what they chant, and terrorize the people, and the politicians use them.

    Bodu Bala Sena wants to maintain the status quo of the Monks so that the Sinhala masses will toil and provide for them, with luxuries boys and even women. Look at the average overweight monk and the average weight of the people, excluding the politicians.

    The job of the monk, the Sangha, as given in True Buddhism, is not carried out by the BBS monks. They are a disgrace to True Buddhism, Sinhala Buddhism, and to all Sri Lankans. Truly, SAri Lanka still have many “Modayas”. What did they teach you at Dhamma School?

    There is no need for Sinhala Buddhists to be apologists for “Budu” Bala Sena. Call a spade a spade. Call a terrorist a terrorist. Call a racist a racist.

    Speak the truth. Take the middle path. Do not follow Mara. These were the words of Lord Buddha,the enlightened one.

  • 0

    The Arab traders who came to Sri Lanka many centuries ago, were all male. They took Sinhala women as their wives and the offspring received Muslim names. All Muslims in Sri Lanka are therefore part Sinhala and to some extent Tamil.

    There cannot be any “pure” Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka. All Sri Lankans have mixed ancestry despite high-sounding names, aristocratic “lineage” etc which are simply figments of imagination only.

    This is largely due to the successive waves of colonial invasions and trade relations (predominantly male)who had sexual liaisons with married or unmarried Sinhala women and despite the Sinhala names, the many generations’ DNA would certainly be mixed.

    As the writer attempts to convey, both Semites (ie Jewish and Muslim)simply call the other a Kafir or Infidel but come from the same stock. Ultra-nationalistic extremist fraudsters should be exposed for the myths they propagate.

    • 0

      O mankind! Lo! We have created you from male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is knower, Aware. (The Noble Quran 49:13)

      The wandering Arabs say: We believe. Say (unto them, O Muhammed): Ye believe not, but rather say “We submit,” for the faith hath not yet entered into your hearts. Yet, if ye obey Allah and His messenger, He will not withhold from you aught of (the reward of) your deeds. Lo! Allah is Forgiving, Merciful. (The Noble Quran 49:14)

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