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Sri Lankan Muslims at the

cross roads – 8
By Izeth Hussain-July 18, 2014
The present article and my earlier ones of July 5
and 12 are meant to constitute a unity, focusing on the questions of hat
really the !luthgama"Beruela outrages signify, and hat action can #e
ta$en #y the %uslims to safeguard their li&es and their legitimate interests'
I concluded my last article #y arguing that the %uslims should, in order to
safeguard their legitimate interests, turn to the (o&ernment, e&en though
it is carrying out an anti-%uslim pro)ect, and also ha&e recourse to the ci&il
society' But neither, I am afraid, ill pro&e to #e really effecti&e
instruments for safeguarding legitimate %uslim interests' *or that they
ha&e to turn to hat is potentially the most effecti&e instrument a&aila#le+
the international community' I must )ustify that position #efore proceeding
further #ecause it might #e ta$en #y some as #etraying an anti-national
It has no #ecome a#solutely clear, unli$e in earlier ee$s , as a result of
in&estigati&e or$ courageously underta$en #y -atheef *arou$ and others
, that hat too$ place at !luthgama"Beruela should #e seen as a
(o&ernment-#ac$ed anti-%uslim pogrom' It should really #e seen as
signaling a ne phase in the (o&ernment.s anti-%uslim pro)ect+ a pro)ect
to reduce them %uslims to the status of second-class citizens ho are not
entitled to the protection of the /tate, and to reduce their economic
position to le&els loer than those of the /inhalese' !s to hat really
happened at !luthgama"Beruela, the most eloquent testimony is that of
that no#le 012 2arliamentarian Thearapperuma to hom the %uslims
ac$noledge a de#t of gratitude for ha&ing ris$ed his life in trying to
rescue the %uslims of the area' !ccording to him the /T* as there in full
force #ut merely atched hile the murderous arsonists ent on the
rampage' The (o&ernment cannot possi#ly a#sol&e itself of responsi#ility
for that outrage' It as indisputa#ly a (o&ernment-#ac$ed pogrom that
too$ place'
The inadequacy of the (o&ernment as a resource for safeguarding
legitimate %uslim interests #ecomes &ery apparent hen e as$ hat can
#e done to pre&ent another July .34'It as quite clear to practically
e&eryone that the racist #ull-thugs at !luthgama ere #aying for #lood,
and that &ery pro#a#ly they &ie hat ensued as merely a prelude to a
grand orgasmic clima5 of #lood-letting that is to ta$e place ne5t year in
commemoration of the anti-%uslim riots of 1615' !t present hat loo$s
li$e a campaign to pro&o$e a further #out of anti-%uslim &iolence seems to
#e going on' /carifying stories are put out a#out %uslims insulting and
pro&o$ing the Buddhist clergy, ho are #earing it all ith infinite patience
#ecause there is no one to hom they can turn in this predominantly
Buddhist land that is really under non-Buddhist domination' The further
complaint is that the media are #lac$ing out all nes a#out the %uslim
pro&ocations' Is there any hope that the (o&ernment ill ma$e proper
in&estigations and put a stop to such loonily dangerous racist idiocies7
1one hate&er' Is there any hope that the (o&ernment ill responsi#ly
in&estigate hat really ignited the recent riots7 1one hate&er'
It must seem anomalous that I am ad&ocating a %uslim turning to the
(o&ernment to safeguard their legitimate interests, hile I am saying at
the same time that the (o&ernment is carrying an anti-%uslim pro)ect'
2art of the reason for this is that the (o&ernment is an amorphous #ody
ith many fissures, not a smooth monolith' Its hard core is certainly neo-
*ascist, racist, anti-%uslim, #ut the (o&ernment also includes mem#ers of
the old /-*2 and of left-ing parties ho could #e sympathetic to the
%uslims' The 8pposition 012 is also #asically racist and anti-%uslim, #ut it
too includes enlightened politicians ho e can presume ill #e disposed
to gi&e some measure of fair play to the %uslims , to hich the
(o&ernment is a&erse as shon quite clearly #y its 9eputy 2ermanent
:epresentati&e in (ene&a ha&ing the damned impertinence to #lame the
%uslims for setting off the !luthgama"Beruela outrages' Hoe&er the
essential difference , the difference that the %uslims can.t afford to ignore
, is that the (o&ernment can deli&er, the 012 can.t' That applies to the
ci&il society too hich , though it has shon an impressi&e dynamism in
recent times , cannot as yet play the decisi&e role that could #e e5pected
of the ci&il societies of Britain or India' 0nder these circumstances the
%uslims cannot #e #lamed if they turn to the international community to
safeguard not )ust their legitimate interests #ut their &ery li&es, as a July
.34 could ell #e on the ay'
;hat the %uslims should no do is to underta$e a pu#licity counter-thrust
dealing ith all the charges le&eled against them' It can #e shon, ithout
much difficulty, that the issues #ede&iling /inhalese-%uslim relations,
sometimes for decades, are really not much more than irritants, nothing
that could concei&a#ly )ustify a hate campaign and &iolence #ac$ed #y the
(o&ernment' It can #e shon also that some of the issues that ha&e
continued to #ede&il relations are not the consequence of rong-doing #y
the %uslims or the /inhalese, #ut of the failure, or refusal, on the part of
successi&e (o&ernments to ta$e correcti&e or regulatory action' /uch a
pu#licity counter-thrust could perhaps do more than anything else to
restore the traditional amity and co-operation that ha&e characterized
/inhalese-%uslim relations'
The counter-thrust should at the outset emphasize certain facts of
fundamental importance' The %uslims and their political representati&es
ha&e #een on the hole, until &ery recently, a#)ectly su#missi&e toards
the /inhalese' They ha&e sided ith the /inhalese against the Tamils in
e&ery #it of ethnolunacy ad&anced #y the /inhalese leaders' They made
their contri#ution to the ar effort to the e5tent of incurring a mass
genocidal e5pulsion from the 1orth' They ha&e ne&er as$ed for a separate
state, and e&en their case for an autonomous %uslim unit is the
consequence of the Tamil case for de&olution' The ider Islamic orld has
#een of immense #enefit to /ri -an$a, in ays that I need not specify
here' The point to #e highlighted is that the creation of a ma)or %uslim
ethnic pro#lem in /ri -an$a argues an ad&anced, a dangerously ad&anced,
degree of ethnolunacy among the anti-%uslim racists and their
(o&ernment #ac$ers'
The pu#licity counter-thrust ould not, in my &ie, require detailed
a#struse studies' /ometimes the issues are really non-issues, hile most
of them can #e disposed of ithout much difficulty' !s an e5ample of a
non-issue, I ill ta$e the charge that %uslim countries don.t allo the
#uilding of churches and temples and the practice of any religion other
than Islam' In a recent letter to the Island, a /inhalese riter listed
se&eral ;estern countries here there are Buddhist temples, #ut none he
rote are to #e found in /audi !ra#ia and other %uslim countries, hile in
/ri -an$a Buddhists allo mosques to proliferate all o&er the place, and so
on' He challenged me to e5press my &ies a#out that' I did some chec$ing
and found that the position is as follos' The /audis regard their country
as ha&ing a unique relation to Islam for o#&ious historical reasons, and
therefore don.t allo the #uilding of non-%uslim religious edifices there,
#ut the practice of other religions is alloed' <hurches and Hindu temples
are to #e found in the 0!=, Bahrain, and elsehere' !s I could not get
information on the practices pre&alent in the 5> predominantly %uslim
countries of the orld, I as$ed the riter hat are the countries here
Buddhists ha&e sought permission to #uild temples and #een refused'
There has #een no anser'
I ould also regard as a non-issue something that the /inhalese racists,
and the (o&ernment itself, regard as a serious national pro#lem, the
pro#lem of %uslim e5tremism' The truth a#out this as put succinctly and
e5actly some ee$s ago #y a politician of high integrity, %angala
/amaraeera+ There is no %uslim e5tremism here' I dealt ith this
supposed serious national pro#lem in a recent article, so that instead of
going into details here I ill confine myself to the essential facts' There is
indeed the pro#lem of the religious e5tremism of the ;aha#is and the
/alafis, hich ha&e led to a fe, &ery fe, clashes ith the mainstream
orthodo5 %uslims' That should #e of no concern at all to non-%uslims, and
constitutes no pro#lem for them, e5cept to the (o&ernment as a &ery
occasional la and order pro#lem' The madrasas ha&e not #een teaching
any form of ?political Islam? and consequently there are no Jehadi groups,
none hate&er in /ri -an$a' I understand that a#out three /- %uslims
ha&e #een recruited #y foreign terrorist groups, #ut such recruitment can
#e easily contained #y our secret ser&ice ith the help if necessary of :!;,
the <I!, and %ossad' /upposed %uslim e5tremism here is a concoction of
the /inhalese racists, as part of their strategy to push the %uslims don
and $eep the %uslims don'
Posted by Thavam