By Silma Ahamed –
The Government has inadvertently made Azath Salley a hero, or so some believe. No, the Government has not contributed to Azath turning a hero, he is one anyway.
The hate campaign against Muslims needs no elaboration. Azath Salley has only been warning Sri Lankans of dangerous consequences as a result of it. To arrest him on charges of inciting communal ill feeling is to insult the basic intelligence of all Sri Lankans.
Surely we Sri Lankans cannot forget so soon that Azath was a close associate of the ruling family. When did he fall into disfavor? Was it not when he vehemently opposed the destruction of an ancient Muslim shrine in Anuradhapura, and the campaign against the removal of the recently famous mosque in Dambulla? Was he not the one who openly condemned the racist ideology and hate campaign against minorities by extremist Sinhala groups? Was he not the one who spoke out for unity among all races and a common Sri Lankan identity? He is a true patriot, to fearlessly speak out in the face of not just losing favor with the Government, but also risking his personal security.
And now what is the Muslim community doing for him? Some feel that he was ‘asking for it’, that he ‘was shooting his mouth off’. Was he?? Is it wrong to speak your mind? He certainly wasn’t committing a crime. We are, by not defending him when he is wrongfully incarcerated. Muslims in Civil Society find excuses not to get involved, only because they fear for their own well being. It is the responsibility of Muslim individuals who wield influence in their respective fields to do whatever is possible for the release of Azath Salley. It it isn’t within our power to secure his release, we should at least voice our protest openly. It is also the responsibility of right minded Sri Lankans to support this cause, just like any other which stands for Democracy and Justice in the country. Or else, silence will only embolden the forces against Peace and Justice in Sri Lanka.