30 May, 2020

Blog

When Exceptions Feared To Become Normal

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

This is a continuation of what I published earlier titled, “Thoughts on Economic Recovery and Return to Normalcy after Covid-19” (CT, 4 April 2020). 

The way President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is handling the Covid-19 devastation, as an emergency situation and tackling it with military discipline, is commendable. Even other and more established democratic countries have assumed a wartime governing model and are implementing measures to combat the virus, which unavoidably has disrupted normal life in all its aspects and liberties taken for granted are called to be sacrificed.  People understand government’s desperation and the need for desperate measures. In this situation the need for national unity and cooperation with authorities is pivotal. Period.

The only unwritten condition attached to this unity and cooperation is the understanding that once the emergency passes away, situation would return to previous status quo. People would expect to go back to their habitual ways of doing things. They may adopt certain changes to their lifestyle because of lessons learnt during the emergency, and authorities in turn would be expected to relax and remove the restrictions imposed temporarily.

It is the suspicion and fear of that expectation remaining unfulfilled and exceptions threatening to become normal that tend to make unity and cooperation problematic.  This is particularly acute in societies with different ethnic and religious compositions, and which experience discriminatory treatment in the hands of rulers and administrators. Sri Lanka falls into this category.    

In the midst of the Covid-19 emergency, the issue of cremating or burying a dead body has raised concern among Muslims and provided an opportunity to few of their leaders to make political capital out of it. This is unfortunate. Although I am not a Muslim theologian, my understanding of that faith and its history convince me that, in exceptional circumstances, such as when large numbers of people are threatened to be infected through burial, cremation may be allowed as the only option. According to the Islamic faith, God can bring back the dead to life whether buried, cremated or even dissolved in chemicals, as happened to Jamal Kashoggi. Then why the fuss? The reason is the ethno-nationalist political atmosphere allowed to flourish in the country.

This is not the time to discuss this issue in detail, which I have done in a number of previous contributions to this journal. However, let me remind the readers of a recent controversy surrounding the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act during the Yahapalana regime. Again, I have expressed my views on this Act before and don’t want to repeat them here. But, during the closing days of that regime, the maverick monk Ven. Athureliye Rathana Thera, introduced a private Bill in the parliament and argued for the abolition of MMDA on the principle of one-law-one-country. He is well known for his anti-Muslim propaganda, and like his clerical colleague, Ven. Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, is understandably popular among Sinhala-Buddhist supremacists. This group, on whose support GR-MR duumvirate is surviving, has no regard to the country’s pluralist make up and considers pluralism a bulwark and not aid to the economy and development of this nation. Therefore, once this principle is accepted by rulers, then cremation can be imposed upon all communities as the norm, even after the emergency passes away and in total disregard for a community’s religious and cultural susceptibilities. This, I suppose, is the underlying fear behind Muslim concern about cremation.  So far, and in spite of numerous other incidents such as the ones in Nelundeniya, Chilaw and Mahara, GR has not taken any step to allay the fears of this community. His inaction proves that he is in total cahoot with the supremacists.  In many ways one could see an attitudinal change in the behaviour of the community after some bitter experiences in recent years. Even in religious matters they have become flexible depending on the urgency of times. Therefore, why not make it categorically clear and public by GR and MR that once the emergency is over Muslims will be allowed to practice their funeral rites unmolested and unrestricted?  What is preventing them doing so?

There is no question that the entire nation at the moment should throw its weight behind the government. Covid-19 is the most immediate and relevant danger. It is also a menace that is driving the nation’s struggling economy to the point of total collapse. The twin crises of health and economy cannot be tackled without the full cooperation of all communities and people. Why not make this fight apolitical and appoint a multi-communal task force like a war cabinet with relevant expertise?

Regarding the economy, the populist measures hastily implemented by GR with an election in mind are coming to bite the nation now. The blanket ban on all imports is a mistake committed in desperation, and going to worsen the situation. Import restrictions have to be selective and they need to be part of a comprehensive economic plan covering multiple sectors.  Immediately, people have to be fed and cared for and government needs revenue. External borrowing is going to be difficult and more expensive, because even lending countries are facing financial constraints. Appeal to expatriate Sri Lankans to help with their savings should be appreciated, but what about the hoarded wealth of local men and women lying in tax havens?

There need to be two sets of measures, one to tackle immediate consumer issue and other for economic recovery after the emergency. This is the best opportunity to forget our ethnic prejudices and build Sri Lanka as a nation. Will GR stand up to the occasion?        

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Latest comments

  • 12
    0

    Why donot the ministers, & MP’s also contribute 20% fron the salary to this cause?

    • 7
      0

      Dear Writer,
      .
      QUote
      There is no question that the entire nation at the moment should throw its weight behind the government. Covid-19 is the most immediate and relevant danger.
      Unquote
      .
      Do we or any country struggle with the CRISIS have any other choice ?.
      Eahc and every govt should do their best right at this critical moment of the nation.
      I am from Germany. This monring news insisted that the nation should do lot more tests than they have been doing now. They called it – HAMMBER -TANZ – meaning first you need to protect the nation by every hard steps being implemented, and then start dancing.
      :
      The German experts believe until end of the year there will be no proper medication to contain the disease. Even if the medication is found, to normalize the day today situation would take a while…. and those who work being at home office, will have to continue while the others would lose the jobs etc…. all in all, these news are from a nation whose economy is the most poweful one in Europe.
      :
      While our GONTHADIYAS; just become swollen only because a young boy is given a help, while his SHIP is sailing near to srilanken shores… and every small step being highlighted as ” they did at their best”….. making and trying to mislead the nation further….should at least today, feel like they should be serious with CONTAINMENT of the virus though they started somewhat late.
      :
      Good argument is 100-mio nation, Vietnam has not reported a single death yet, and just scoring lowest numbers among the infect, so is the case in POOR Nepal…. why should our men unncessarily overestimate to have done their best ?
      .
      It is always the same, they enjoy by wasting it for the MEDIA displays… why should ARMY and triforces be busy with PROVIDING music, while the TV and media instutions do their best…. ?

    • 9
      0

      Anzari,

      not just 20%, but they can contribute lot more…. depending on their income levels. I know young UNP and JVP MPs did not earn the manner, MAFIA boss’s men did it during their high days and now are back to loot it to the very same speed or more.
      :
      Wimal BP Buruwanse, should be hung by his balls for all thugish activiites being done by him these days. Ballige putha Rajaakshes should not set these rabid dogs allow unncessary provocative verbal exchanges. What the nation expect right at the moment is more support to the vulnerble communities (those who are elderly and live remote, those who depend on their day today wages, those who are left to be behind by their host institutions etc).
      .
      Pinguthara Hamuduruwos, that collected weath by every means should offer lot more to the poor. That Samantha Badra, Athana Methana natana Rathana, Maedagoda bp Abhayathissa could give lot more… from the collected wealtth over the years. They arejust wrapped around as ” so called buddhist monks”; bu ttheir realities is well connected with COMMECIAL gains. Iththakandee BP monk to anyone in lime light could do lot more at this critical juncture of the nation.
      :

    • 7
      0

      In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and politicians have announced a 30 percent pay cut, while pensions of former politicians have also been trimmed. Our politicians are enjoying full benefits !!

      Private sector bosses are cutting their pay and the private firms are runing out of cash, whilst state workers can be paid by printed money (liquidity injections or Central Bank credit), which then triggers a depreciation of the currency. Sri Lanka’s state workers however are getting their full pay, though only the health service and key agencies are operating.

      When will we learn???

    • 2
      0

      None of them except Mr.Palitha Thawarapperuma is to be seen probably being Island wide curfew!

    • 5
      0

      If the government hides the true numbers of Covid cases is that fake news and can this be considered treason or crimes against the citizens who are the nation?? This would be acting against the interests of national security yes??

  • 8
    0

    Yes, “what about the hoarded wealth of local men and women lying in tax havens?”
    It’s time to cough up. Also what about the public money stolen by politicians belonging to the Rajapaksa Family Party, the SLFP, and the UNP and held in foreign banks? Why did the greedy clown Sirisena make those sudden, bizarre trips to Seychelles and Singapore?

    • 7
      0

      They dont even mention former President today ?
      .
      I think LOCAL MEDIA MAFIA should have been well informed that the bugger should be isolated further.
      :
      What is being seen is their CALCULATED mechanisms abusiing the ground situation. THey Rajaakshes do very little yet for the grieving squezing people by the corona-curfews.
      :
      Now the PERTROLIum prices in Europe have gone down by 15%. There they the srilanken govt, save collossal amount of FUNDs being paid by the state for the purchase raw-oil. Raw oil prices are reduced by 50% in world market. They srilanken authorities dont care about the FORMULA, as is the case in European countries, but abuse the funds for their own previledges. I think MAFIA boss and his family, could finance all the POOR being locked by CURFEWS today, if he would use the stolen funds from TSUNAMI embezzlement and billions taken away from the state during his terms from 2005 to 2015. These are not untruths BECAUSE former President, proved that there are billions being desposited in banks of Dubai by Rajapaksehs families. And we also saw, that YOSHITHA rajapakshe flew to DUBAI irrespective of ban being imposed him not allowing to go abroad.

  • 8
    0

    Yet; why some idiot Buddhist extremists put venom and poisions on this time too on minorities?
    1% of them are bad apples and some write to this paper too .
    As long as this virus of racism is there there would not be any peace not world .
    Racism is more dangerous than corona..
    Karma will turn on them soon.

  • 1
    13

    Simply because elders of Native Sinhalayo gave citizenship to ‘Para’ people Sinhalayo do not have to dance according to the tunes of the descendants of those ‘Para’ people.

    Root cause of all these problems is the rotten political system which is a ‘White Elephant’ that our Sinhala ‘Kalu Suddas’ accepted from Brits saying ‘Sadhu Sadhu’ and tinkered by JR for his own advantage. Some people took advantage of this rotten system and played hell ruining this country. They did not care for the country. What they wanted was to achieve their narrow racist objectives. It is high time that the leaders take measures to change the system, particularly in the light of the challenges the country will face. If that is not acceptable to some, tell them to go to hell.

    • 11
      0

      Enire world is burning, this ballige putha is filled with RACISM.
      .
      Why cant these men as 80 year old grasp the basics. ? we are all the same. Be us sinhalaya demala muslim or others, everyone of us should have to face COVID-19 …. get your fact right ans get well soon BP Eagle eye.

    • 4
      0

      You are a paraya in Australia too.

      • 3
        0

        Vulture@
        Eagle Eye and his hatreds to Tamils and muslims are even more virulent than all the co-effect of all dead viruses.
        :
        See how he he continues with his hatreds, even the ship is sinking. I have never seen or noticed that human beings could be as cruel as this BP Egle eya Aka HLD ´ Mahindapala Gonthadiya. If I would meet him personally, I have no doubt, I can spit on him…
        .

    • 3
      0

      May you be buried in the hell Eagle Evil.
      ,.
      You will never learn the least – you are a curse to humanity. I am sinhalaya, but I hate your kind of sinhalaya that does no t see it beyond.

      • 1
        0

        You EAGLE and that ballige putha, Dayan Jayathilaka, so that Wimal Buruwanse, should all be raw burnt in hell. That alone would be enough to get some blessing for the sustainable peace in our mother land.

  • 2
    0

    COVID-19 Being a respiratory virus, it’s transmitted through respiratory droplets. then after it is dead no respitory sytem how can it be spread, Handling the dead is done like it is done for cremation. Also the procedure is set for prevention and control measures, handling of the body and environmental disinfection have been issued Having said by WHO order both are allowed. ( Creamtion and Burial is allowed ) like it is done globaly acceptance .

    • 0
      1

      Rbh
      The best solution is to handover the the body to a team of Muslim medicos (especially set up for this purpose) immediately after death who can arrange for transport, necessary rituals and burial. Expensive , disposable safety gear will not be needed for this team as they are confident that the virus is no more. Non Muslim health workers should not be involved or exposed in the process to avoid any controversy.

      Soma

      • 0
        0

        Soma

        There is a procedure to follows from WHO how deal with the body which is set to be buried is followed Globally it is with all precations it will be done. One day buriel is new
        for some 5 days non buriel how is it non toxic

  • 0
    5

    HaHaHaaaa, So we should go for a national unity War time like Cabinet with the UNP , JVP and the Muslim Parties.who served us in Dr Rani’s Yahapalanaya.. .
    What a Beauty that would be !!!!.

    Just imagine Galleon Ravi,, Mangala Samare, Dr Rajitha,, Ponseka, Anura Kumara, Rauf Hakeem ,Bathudeen , Kirirlla, , KK, Ajith Perera , Senasinghe, Dr Rani , Kabir Hasheem, Mujibur and Malik Samare, all helping Mahinda Rajapaksa to Lock Down, Put the Curfew , , Give the Dalits Dhall and Mackeral, and protect them from the CORONA Virus… .

    Shouldn’t we take IGP Pujitha, Army Boss Senanayaka, Defence Minister Ruwan , and his Secretary Hemasiri as well, to give instructions to Shavendra Silva and his Rana Viru boys to enforce Law and Order,Administer the Lock Down and the Curfew to keep our inhabitants in check.

    I think we should go even further and get Ranjan Ramanayaka and Hirunicka Premachandra as the Media Spokesperson to calm down Rauf Hakeem and his followers who seem to be agitated about Ven Rathne and Galaboda Gnanissara according to Dr Ameer Ali..
    And are also upset about not being able to take their COVID-19 infected Corpses. home for open casket Muslim Burials..-

    BTW , I wonder whether Dr Rani and his this War Time Like Cabinet supporters gave those Ibrahim and Zaharan Boys proper Muslim Burials like Mr Rauf Hakeem is now demanding for his followers.. ………

  • 6
    0

    Dr. Ameer Ali,

    “The way President Gotabaya Rajapaksa is handling the Covid-19 devastation, as an emergency situation and tackling it with military discipline, is commendable.”

    Everything should be evidence-based.

    On March 17, the President Gon Gotabaya, said there was no virus problem., and wanted to have the election on the 25th. Fortunately, he had come to his senses quickly, forced on him by the Wuhan-China-19, COVID-19, virus.

    The cremation issue with Muslims, it is a health issue as well as an underlying racism issue, of Sinhala “Buddhists “, that has been in display against the Tamils since independence in 1948.

    Looks like Islam allows for cremation under extraordinary circumstances, with the COVID-19 pandemic, that is calling the BLUFF of the various beliefs, and is STUMPING the religions leaders, the Ulama, the monks the Rabbi , the Infallible Pope and the Cardinals etc. The Pirith and prayers have no effect on COVID-19.

    Some Ulama need to state that if MBS, the keeper of the Keys of the two Holy Mosques in Arabia, can dissolve Kamal Kassahogi in acid and disperse in water, the Muslims can be cremated and dispersed in air for the common safety and good of the community.

    The living Should not have Rights over the living, if there is Risk

    The racism against the Muslims, who themselves are victims like everyone else, by the Wuhan-Chinese COVID-19 virus should be directed to the Chinese. and those who brought it from Italy. Unfortunately, the Para-Sinhala O
    Para-“Buddhist “ racists, bent on racism, do not see it that way.

    • 3
      0

      Dr. Ameer Ali,

      Correction:

      The living Should not have Rights over the living, if there is Risk

      SHOULD READ

      The DEAD Should not have Rights over the living, if there is Risk

  • 0
    2

    I really appreciate our Police officers behaviour during this most difficult times ,
    Omg compare them.to.Indian police.
    Our Police are very much refined.
    Most Indian police are terrible .
    Even our Armed forces all of them firm.but deceant , just imagine being an Indian Citizen,? Thank God am.Sri Lankan

    The Indian police have always been like that, we may have our own few short comings but on the whole , I salute them.all.

    • 1
      0

      Fahim,
      .
      why to compare it with the worst ? My Prof. then asked me never compare it with the worst. That reminded me as I read yours.
      :
      Let me correct you.. our politice is bit better today than prior to 2015.
      .
      I think those police in INDIA.. could be most appropriate to those who break the curfew rules in the country today.
      .
      Thanks god, I live in Europe … not in Srilanka. Here, even if COVID-19 patients are rapidly on a rise, but I love the way they maintain disipline.
      :
      Greetings from Germany,
      Stay Healthy. I love your COMMENTs… Mr.
      I always do.

  • 8
    0

    Months ago I predicted that Gotabaya is turning the country into a Military State. Today news is out that Pohottuwa members want 9 major generals for the provinces and 25 brigadiers for the districts to manage the country under the President, without recalling the Parliament. As we all know Pohottuwa will not announce any announcement without the blessings from Mahinda/Gotabaya/Basil trio. We all have heard that Gota, when he was the Defense Secretary, was pushing for a Military takeover when Mahinda lost the Presidency. Thanks to the Attorney General and the Army Commander of that time they blocked it. I am not sure if the present AG and Joint Forces Head have the came honesty and commitment to Democracy. Now once again Gotabaya is paving the way to do the same, he has more powers and the dissolution of the Parliament and Corona attack has paved an easy way out for him to achieve the goal. Its time for the masses to be alert to this danger. Voters should remember the names of each and every Pohottuwa member who is pushing for this and kick them out at the next general elections – if there is one ever in the future.

  • 0
    0

    Ameer Ali: I was listening what other country leaders were talking. Of course, USA is not giving leadership to it’s citizens. It is like there is no govt for them it is only the businesses which runs the country. But, what other leaders say, THIS IS A SPECIAL DESPERATE SITUATION. Under such conditions the priority is to control and take control over the situation. Once every thing is under control, President can think about other pre-requisites. Sri Lanka is lucky to have president who has military experience at this moment. Others what ever the party would have made a mess. It is also very fortunate that the FORCES ARE GIVEN THE PROMINENCE. Fortunately, it says even the govt or public workers are very supportive. Only the civilians are ignorant and selfish.
    both a muslim and a Sinhala politician have tried to use the situation by promoting peoples’ social differences.
    People can preach to satisfy their own ends. But, the leadership should not go into politics. Because, this is a very serious situation if it goes out of control. That is what has happened to many developed countries. For them, the money was important than the people or their health.

  • 0
    0

    Dear Dr
    I read most of your articles and respect you as an intellectual, moderate Muslim in the country who is trying alone to show his community how does the democratic system work, the space available for identity politics, and what is a rule based society. In other words, law of the land is above all and all citizen equal before the law. However, it is really a hard task because your community believes religious law far superior than the state law.

    I felt sorry about your new article which is unnecessarily creating fear within minority faiths because your are trying to paint a picture that the government would continue cremation even in future disregarding the rituals of minority faiths capitalizing on emergency status and on the blessing of majority.

    We are now fighting against Covid 19 , had you educated and informed well your community on the epidemic, we wouldn’t have to search people running away from health officials and risking the lives of others; then, it would have diminished cremation or burial issues.

    Dr, by ” Anatomy Of An Islamist Infamy – I & 2″ articles you clearly shows us who the enemy of traditional, moderate and tolerance practicing ture Sri Lankan Muslim is: Wahhabism. it is not the majority or government

  • 0
    1

    The local Muslim Sunni are worried about that of Muslim dead bodies cremated Not according after Shaire Law .By Coronavirus dead men or women NO need Islam mode of customs to cremated,because it is deadly Virus it may after effects to other humans living. The world is Not run by according rules by Shaire Law .

    The Situation is different ,we have understand that.The unexpected and unprecedented circumstances by Coronavirus new conditions has emerge .
    It has an apply by very interest of other Living of rest of other Human Being in World and as well as Sri lankan?

    The so-called AI that blame and claim by ” Human Rights” records are cannot be an apply here-Island against 99% of Survival of Human Living in Sri lanka.
    AI wanted say that is “Dictatorship” of GR Presidency which false claim by Islam terrorist of Muslim Congress and other Muslim Ex- Members of -Parliment.
    Yes Islam Terrorist attacked by 21/4 was undermined Democracy norms of Island But AI kept silent on that!
    GR was elected by vast majority of Voters by Ballots but not by Bullets of Islam terrorist or Tamil Terrorist or JVP Terrorist? He right to govern by consent of People of Island of Sri Lankan. There is no relation ship with UNP and their alliance call that GR running by Security forces. Which called Dictatorship is full of claim of “Hypocrisy of Democracy” by many forms of Terrorist in Island and UNP’s.

    Sorry to say AI are working on bunch of Western Interest ,not real interest of People of World those who were suffering and plunading Wealth of People of 7 billions of World Population @

  • 0
    0

    “Therefore, why not make it categorically clear and public by GR and MR that once the emergency is over Muslims will be allowed to practice their funeral rites unmolested and unrestricted? What is preventing them doing so ?”

    Why is Ameer Ali deliberately attempting to infuse some kind of fear psychosis among the Muslims regarding the post-Covid 19 situation in Sri Lanka ? Does he not realize the harm he may thereby be causing by poisoning the minds of brainless Muslims against the majority community, especially the present Government ? Or is that his real motive in writing this fear-driven article ?
    It may come as an absolute shock to Ameer Ali to learn that even at present, except in the case of Muslims who die of Covid 19 and are cremated like all other Sri Lankans, any Muslim who dies due to any other cause is permitted “to practice their funeral rites unmolested and unrestricted” and be buried.
    In fact during the first week of April alone, 8 – 9 Muslims were buried at various Muslim burial grounds according to the Facebook page, Janaza Movement – Sri Lanka.This number could well be much greater if one takes into consideration the fact that not all Muslim deaths are announced in various social media websites.

  • 0
    0

    sir,
    you have been penning several excellent articles and giving wonderful advice to the rulers. pl. tell them with international examples that without embracing the minorities and establishing reconciliation and a multicultural polity the rulers cannot even establish the pre-corona srilanka or for that matter a well developed nation. you are the most suitable intellectual to undertake this task. i do not know the attitude of the present governor/CB, may be your friend.
    -dayal

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