September 24, 2019
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    Talibanisation of Sri Lanka

    May 27, 2019

    Talibanisation in its worst form was seen in Bamiyan, Afghanistan. The destruction could not remotely be associated with Islam.

    Destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas

    On February 26, 2001, and after having consulted a college of ‘ulama’, Mullah Muhammad Omar, the leader of the Taliban, issued a decree ordering the elimination of all non-Islamic statues and sanctuaries in Afghanistan. A kind of Jihad was launched against the two Buddhas — the one to the east 38 metres high, and the other to the west, 55 metres high — hewn into the cliff of Bamiyan. In the West, the destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan was condemned as an intolerable attack against the whole of humanity’s most precious treasures.

    The reference is to draw attention to the intolerance ostensibly with roots in religion sweeping through Sri Lanka at present.

    Much has been said and written since April 21 of this year when Churches and hotels were brutally attacked. What has followed since is an all out attack on followers of Islam. This article characterizes it as our version of Talibanisation. Let me cite a few examples.

    Sensational false reports

    A Sinhala daily had as its lead story a report of caesareans undertaken by a Muslim doctor. The report said the doctor is a Muslim and forcibly sterilized Sinhala Buddhist women. It was featured as front page news by a TV Channel that morning. The issue came up in Parliament when Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake called for an investigation.

    Speaker Karu Jayasuriya intervened at that stage. The Speaker said: “When I saw that news in the morning I immediately called the Police and State Intelligence authorities. They are not aware of such an incident. But understanding the seriousness of this news report, they told me that the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) would launch an immediate investigation on the matter.” “But the Police and state intelligence do not know anything about it. This matter will be taken into the discussion during the National Security Council (NSC) meeting today (23) as well.” Professor Hemantha Senanayake head of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at the Colombo Medical College said the allegation is “implausible.” He told Republic Next that “there are three members in the surgical team and all of them know which procedure is being carried out.”

    This report joins a catalogue of similar instances in the print and electronic media tantamount to spreading hatred about Muslims, inciting violence against them and causing public discontent. If allowed to fester we will face a violent backlash against the Muslim community.

    The Burqa / Niqab ban and Muslim women

    The effect of the Burqa / Niqab ban and Muslim women was eloquently argued in the Groundviews journal by Hasanah-Cegu-Isadeen. Here are excerpts. “There needs to be a clear answer as to why the Burqa and Niqabwas banned in the name of security yet without any proper evidence between acts of terror and the Burqa/Niqab. The real issue is how hatred towards a particular community is gradually given shape and form and implemented in some way. Why are the rights of Muslim women being snatched away, just because terrorists have committed attacks in the name of Islam? I am completely against terrorism. I am not the culprit of these attacks, but I am made to feel guilty as a woman belonging to the Muslim community.

    I consoled myself by realising that I don’t need to consider the people who murdered others, as Muslims. Instead, I question why I am being held responsible and treated like a terrorist just because I am a Muslim? Muslim women, like everyone else, are shedding tears for those who were murdered at places of worship, including for the innocent children who were killed. We were shaken on hearing the news. We despise the terrorists and their supporters. Yet, we are the ones in fear and unable to leave our houses just because we are Muslims. We are also victims and survivors of terrorism, so why are we being burdened with more pain?”

    Chasing Muslim traders and their customers

    The internet is replete with clips of persons wearing robes either chastising traders from engaging in trading, running shop and chasing away their customers with impunity in the name an anti-Islamic push.

    The burning of Muslim owned shops, vandalizing mosques and homes has no parallel. No amount of financial compensation can undo the immeasurable damage caused. The taking into custody of those responsible by the Police and Army is critiqued with choice words streamed thereafter on social media. Where thus is it safe for a Muslim trader?

    Denial of basic right to livelihood

    Muheed Jeeran writing in an e-Journal narrates this story. “In a small rented house in Hunupitiya near Roseville Garden a Muslim family consisting the mother, three married daughters and five grandchildren were living for some time. They used to stitch frocks and sell them out of their home and this was one of their incomes for survival. They used to buy different coloured cloth. The colours of the cloth included all sorts of shades of blue, green, red, white and orange. About ten days ago, noticing the orange coloured fabric used for stitching frocks, their upstair tenant who is also Muslim had tipped off the police stating that they are suspicious about this family who possess ‘robe material’ of Buddhist monks. Two police officers visited the house for a search operation and found the orange coloured poplin material among the other coloured cloth. They were convinced that this was a false alarm, but, at the same time a neighbouring Buddhist lady took one of the frocks and went outside screaming “they are having our monks’ robes”.

    The neighbourhood gathered and started throwing stones at the house and even the policemen could not control the mob. The mob entered the house with swords and knives to attack the family. The family, including children hid inside the toilet as they had no other option. The mob tried to break the door and at the same time threw stones through the ventilation gap of the toilet to injure the poor family including five children. Somehow STF and other police arrived at scene. They successfully rescued this family and evacuated them to the Kiribathgoda Police station.

    What is sad was that this poor family was forsaken by their own mosque. The clergy failed to visit this family in order to look into the family’s welfare.

    The police were considerate enough to not lock them up inside the cell but have given them a separate cell to stay together. They were also getting all the basic facilities, thanks to the humanity and due conduct of the Superintendent of Police for Peliyagoda Division.

    When I heard of this incident, I immediately visited the police station and met this family in person. When they saw me they started to cry, begging me to help them out. They stated that their entire household items were destroyed by the mob. I promised to support them as it was my moral duty as a human being and an activist. Today in Sri Lanka, hatred and violence seem to be blind to humanity.”

    Ahmadi Muslim refugees driven back from Jaffna

    Ahmadi Muslims have sought refuge in the country in the past few years. The UNHCR plans to resettle the refugees in other countries once their cases are processed, but there is concern among some Ahmadi Muslims that they could face deportation back to Pakistan, something which would amount to a death sentence, according to human rights activists.

    After the Easter Sunday incidents there were threats to their security. A private initiative attempted to provide home stays in Jaffna. It was a short stay for the families who made it with directives to clear out to Vavuniya. The location in Vavuniya had come under threat and any harm falling on the refugees prevented by Army personnel stationed there.

    As one of the organisers of the initiative house refugees has said, “Tamils think that racial profiling is wrong only if it is applied to Tamils but not when they apply it to Muslims”. The intolerance of select Hindus is bluntly spoken bigoted. A trend promoted by a local peninsula based newspaper.

    This writer, a secular Hindu, laments the lack of appreciation of the wave of intolerance akin to Talibanisation sweeping the country. Within 30 short days we have caused so much damage to our society the 30 year war pales into insignificance considering what could potentially follow next.

    Last modified on Monday, 27 May 2019 11:19

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