26 June, 2019

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‘True Story Of Grandpass’ Or True Face Of Champika Ranawaka?

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

It is obvious from the article published by Champika Ranawaka, first in the Daily Mirror, and then reproduced by the Colombo Telegraph, titled “Grandpass: The True Story,” that he has an intimate knowledge of and interest in what others have termed as a ‘despicable act of thuggery and intimidation’ in the name of religion in Grandpass. He obviously is a stakeholder on the wrong side of the fence to come so unashamedly in defending the acts of violence and religious-racial hatred against the Muslims.

His defence begins by saying “It was only in May this year massive anti-Muslim protests were held in central London sending jitters through the spine of David Cameron’s government.” What he has failed to say is that the protest in London in May was against the murder of a British soldier, Drummer Lee Rigby, allegedly by the Muslim extremists, and the protest was organized by the far rights wing English Defence League (RDL) and even there was a counter demonstration by the anti-fascist group, Unite Against Racism. Both demonstrations were reported as tense but peaceful according to EuroNews.

By identifying himself with anti-Muslim protests in London and Islam-phobic fringe movements in Europe he has shown his true face nevertheless saying “Sri Lanka may not be the best country in the world as regards the treatment meted out to Muslims. Still it is certainly not as bad as the West.” This statement condoning discrimination is reprehensible from a Minister. There is no other way to interpret what he has actually said both directly and in between lines and no one with a fair mind would begin an article by castigating a particular religion or a religious group in such a manner if the purpose is to objectively interpret an incident like what has happened in Grandpass.

Why is he so overjoyed to relate that the “Kashmiris continue to live in living hell” and “thousands of mass graves are found in Indian controlled Kashmir?’ The first intention probably is a threat and the second a justification. Anyone with an iota of understanding of human rights or even human decency will realise that those who try to highlight alleged worst violations to justify obvious other violations are in fact justifying both.

Ranawaka claims that there was no attack on a Mosque in Grandpass! He has taken particular umbrage against a statement issued by the US embassy in Colombo for this claim. He is apparently the Minister of Technology and Research! His technological or research methodology on the matter has been the following.

It is “an erroneous statement that a mosque in Grandpass had been attacked when the mosque remained intact.” He further says that “It’s high time that the mission [US Embassy in Colombo] paid a visit to the mosque down Swarna Chaitya Road which is in close proximity to the Buddhist temple and verified the facts for themselves.” His claim is that “The dispute was over a store, temporary used as a Prayer Centre in the neighbourhood.”

First, it is not up to Ranawaka to determine whether the place is a Prayer Centre or a Mosque. After all what is the big difference between the two? Both are religious places. A recent writer in the Colombo Telegraph on the Muslim side, Latheef Farook, has called it a Mosque. More pertinently, the letter issued by the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs and signed by its Secretary, M. K. B. Dissanayake, calls it a Muslim Palliya (Muslim Mosque)). This letter in Sinhala was published by the Colombo Telegraph previously. In fact it was the old Mosque, Majid Deenul Islam, at 166 Swarna Chaitya Road that was relocated to the new place at 158 on the same road due to the takeover order by the Urban Development Authority. It is hilarious to argue that the ‘building’ was not relocated and the old Mosque is still there intact, and ask the critics to go and see! This is typical of Ranawaka’s cynical mechanical thinking arguing ‘if the building is not moved the Mosque is not moved.’

What is apparent is a Minister who should be responsible to the people, if not for his conscience, blatantly distorting facts and trying to claim brownie points by misleading the public and criticizing the US Embassy and the international human rights organizations on the basis of distorted facts.

If the dispute is now settled as Ranawaka says, it is well and good. But I doubt it very much given the following reasons. Grandpass attack is not an isolated incident and occurred only few weeks after an attack on a similar Mosque in Mahiyangana and even that was part of a series of attacks (over 25) beginning with the Mosque attack in Anuradhapura in September 2011. It is not only the Muslim religious places that have been ambushed and attacked. Over 40 Christian religious places have come under the same treatment of mob violence, desecration and personal harm particularly after the end of the war in 2009. All these incidents now number more than 65.

Almost all of these attacks have taken place with the passive endorsement of the police as onlookers in many incidents. Very clear video footages are available. There is a very clear-cut endorsement by the government, the President himself asking the newspaper editors recently to ‘ignore the anti-Islam campaign’ as pointed out by Izeth Hussain in his article to the Island this morning. The effort of Minister Ranawaka is on the same lines of the President or much worse very clearly saying to the Muslims that ‘be satisfied, we are treating you better than in Kashmir.’

On the question of the Majid Deenul Islam in Grandpass it is reported that the Muslim side has agreed to give up the location at 158 Chaitya Road and the Buddhist side has agreed to ‘allow’ the Mosque to function at the former location at 166 of the same road. However, it is not clear how long this truce would remain as the Buddhist side now claiming, including Minister Ranawaka, that the 158 is an illegal construction, and the UDA order to acquire the 166 premises is not fully revoked. No firm assurance has so far given to continue Majid Deenul Islam at 166 premises.

What has resulted in at least a temporary truce on the dispute seems to be the stiff resistance on the part of the Muslims in the area and their youth against the alleged Ravana Balaya goons who attacked the Mosque and tried to intimidate the Muslim residents. This may be the reason why Ranawaka complains about the rise of the “the number of Muslim families in the area from about 80 in 1987 to 400 in 2013.” The statement is very clear about the xenophobic mindset.

The Muslim resistance however appears to be justified is also dangerous and this is a result of the complete inaction and partiality on the part of the law enforcement agencies, particularly the Police, and the UPFA Government. This is a recipe for major calamity in the country like in the Sinhala-Muslim riots in July 1915 or the pogrom against the Tamils in July 1983. The whole effort should be to avoid such an event in the future under the rule of law and not superficial truce as advocated by Ranawaka in his spurious article. The Mosque attackers should be apprehended and punished.

Ranawaka has advocated the view that the Muslims should always consult the surrounding Sinhalese villagers and the Buddhist temples and the monks in the area before venturing into setting up their Mosques or Prayer Centres. Why should they, if they follow the rules and laws of the country? If they do so even the temple Dharmasalas would be offered for Muslims prayers, Ranawaka has hinted. What is advocated is the hegemony of Sinhala Buddhism for the survival of the minority religions. The clear threat is that, if otherwise they would be attacked.

The establishment of Sinhala Buddhist hegemony and even suppression over the minority religious and ethnic communities is what is exactly going on in the country after the end of the war. This was there even before, but it has taken an ugly militant turn after the formation of the BBS, Ravana Balaya and  Sinhala Ravaya under the direct and indirect patronage of the JHU and some other sections of the government including the Defense Establishment. In my opinion, the Chapter on Buddhism in the Constitution, which was ignored or considered a harmless provision to other religions previously, now proving to be one of the root causes of the present religious intolerance that is spreading in the country with constitutional sanction on which I might return soon.

As the BBS Head, Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi Thera, declared at the Maharagama meeting of the so-called National Collective on 2 July 2013, the ideology is that “This is a Sinhala Buddhist country and others can also live here.” Live here as what? Obviously as second class citizens. It is like the (unnecessarily) glorified 13th Amendment saying “Tamil is also an official language.” Not as equal but as ‘also.’

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Latest comments

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    Quran (9:5) – “So when the sacred months have passed away, then slay the idolaters wherever you find them, and take them captive and besiege them and lie in wait for them in every ambush, then if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate, leave their way free to them.”

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    Where Islam is dominant (as in the Middle East and Pakistan) religious minorities suffer brutal persecution with little resistance.
    Where Islam is in the minority (as in Sri lanka,Thailand, the Philippines and Europe) there is the threat of violence if Muslim demands are not met. Either situation seems to provide a justification for religious terrorism, which is persistent and endemic to Islamic fundamentalism.

    Other than the fact that Muslims haven’t killed every non-Muslim under their domain, there is very little else that they can point to as proof that theirs is a peaceful, tolerant religion.

    The reasons are obvious and begin with the Quran. Few verses of Islam’s most sacred text can be construed to fit the contemporary virtues of religious tolerance and universal brotherhood. Those that do are earlier “Meccan” verses which are obviously abrogated by later ones. This is why Muslim apologists speak of the “risks” of trying to interpret the Quran without their “assistance” – even while claiming that it is a perfect book.

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    Laksiri Frenando is real [Edited out]

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    Mr Sivanathan, we are quite aware of the social issues and crimes in Srilanka now and the majority of the people involved in these crimes are Sinhalese and Tamils (drugs ,land disputes, rape,prostitution, thuggery, murder, terrorism etc.).As an example look at the disgusting unacceptable behaviour and thuggery of the Buddhist monks.Then who are the Tamil terrorist.Are they Christians and Muslims as you have mentioned?. To the world, they are all Buddhist and Hindus. However Religions does not make these disgraceful people of low calibre, it is their low class wicked up-bringing that makes them so dangerous and disgraceful.We are so unfortunate to have them in a once peaceful multicultural Country like SriLanka, that belongs to all it’s citizens.In god’s name please live peacefully and take the country forward.

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      Can you explain why Catholic Church openly involved with LTTE and participated in bank robberies in Jaffna?

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    This laksiri is playing with words in order to attack minister Champika Ranawaka. He takes umbrage at the use of the word “also”in the 13th Amendment. The Tamil language has always been used as an official language in Sri Lanka. Every postage stamp, passport, Govt bulletin etc has been in both languages ever since the ‘Official language Act’. Doesn’t this signify equality ?
    Similarly when Champika referred to a ‘mosque been attacked he was clearly referring to an established mosque with the identifiable physical features of a mosque, not a converted grocery store !

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      Gamini Jayasuriya,

      I think you don’t know the real story of that mosque issue……….Champika is a politician and anti islam propaganda……….he will talk morning one story and evening another story (mostly he lies). He was behind of this attack……he is one of boot licker of MARA regime. He has big corruption in Norocholai coal power plant…..so he has to lick MARA’s boots.

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    Laksiri

    Thank you. I am glad there are fearless saner people like yourself amidst Sri Lankans.

    It seems Ranawake who claims to be an educated engineer seems to suggest there are attacks on Muslims in the west, Kashmir and other places and therefore the Muslims are bad and deserve this treatment, however, in sri Lanka we, the Sinhala Budhist treat you better. He is declaring Sinhala Budhist hagemony on the Muslims to say you have to live under our hagemony which seems to stem from a very low mind. I have no doubt he must be suffering from a pathetic inferiority feeling to behave this way.

    If he is really an educated cultured person will he speak like this.

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    All the Muslims are not terrorists but
    all the terrorists are Muslims.

    Because of their Quran ask to kill non-muslims and rob and rape.

    Growth of the Muslim population is always a threat to Sri lanka. That is why Burma or Myanmar ordered muslims cannot have more than two kids!

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    Dear M SIVANANTHAN,

    All Buddhist are not racist but,
    All racist is this country presently are Buddhist

    Also all Tamils weren’t Tigers
    but all Tigers were Tamil

    People like you only make this country a living hell. you are purely filled with jealousy, rage, anger & hatred. does the BBS & LTTE pays you a monthly salary for using your brains.

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    This [Edited out], Laksiri Fernando needs to be [Edited out]. I am no fan of Champaka Ranawaka but I hate these [Edited out] telling others what to do. Muslims are in fact manipulating the system in an organized manner. just like putting comments in Sinhala names here. If its good for you to be a muslim, so be it. I don’t give a [Edited out] on what you beleieve. But don’t [Edited out] try to teach us how to think.

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