Easter Sunday carnage: West a Trojan horse
Posted on May 6th, 2019

By Shivanthi Ranasinghe Courtesy Ceylon Today

Many analyses on the bloody Easter Sunday massacre had dealt with the incredible lapses of the incumbent Government. The attempt had been to pinpoint the party who might be directly responsible for the carnage and the present prevailing situation of fear and uncertainty. However, several entities including V enerable Induragare Thera are questioning the reason for the ISIS to target Sri Lanka.

Affluent terrorists

TNA Spokesman M. A. Sumanthiran had stated that this massacre is a result of Sri Lanka’s failure to address minority grievances. Sumanthiran is merely engaged in the despicable act of trying to get a political mileage from the carnage. His statement cannot be taken seriously for three main reasons. The first reason being that the general excuses of oppression, frustration and marginalisation that revolve around terrorism cannot be applied to the terrorists who were involved in this carnage.

These terrorists were from economically strong backgrounds. To read for their degrees or post-graduate studies they have chosen affluent Western countries as opposed to cheaper options as China, Russia, India, Pakistan or Bangladesh. They had been closely associating powerful politicians. Therefore, this group was an affluent sector of the Sri Lankan society who was also educated and politically influential.

The second reason is that the Muslims in Sri Lanka, irrespective of their economic, educational and political background, have the freedom to follow their faith and adapt the culture of their choosing. This is a freedom that Muslims in countries considered as pinnacles of democracy like Switzerland do not enjoy for the Swiss have banned building minarets (the prayer towers) in mosques.

Instead, in Sri Lanka a Minister is specifically appointed to ensure the conservation of Muslim religious affairs. However, it was revealed by Parliamentarian Dayasiri Jayasekera, on 29 April, that since 2015 the Muslim Religious Affairs Minister Abdul Haleem had permitted 400 mosques belonging to the extremist group National Thowheed Jama’ath – 50 of which are situated in Kandy; home to the Temple of the Sacred Tooth. It is noteworthy that NTJ happens to be just one of the many Islamic sectors thriving in Sri Lanka.

Large caches of arms, ammunition and other weapons such as swords are now being discovered, during the search operations that have been conducted, since the carnage. In a statement to the press, on 30 April, it was Minister Haleem belief that, Certain mosques would have kept weapons and other sharp objects to clean the yards and surrounding shrubs around certain religious places.” Whether anyone would choose to believe such a ridiculous assertion remains to be seen. However, the point of the matter is that until now, mosques had the freedom to act as they pleased.

Until this carnage took place, Sri Lanka allowed madrasa schools to propagate and function freely – even while countries like Pakistan had started banning these schools. In the aftermath of this massacre, it had come to light that the curriculum taught in these schools is not under the purview of the education ministry. The laxness had allowed even foreign nationals such as Egyptians to be employed as teachers and some do not even have valid visas and other relevant documents.

Furthermore, Shariah Law was gazetted in April 2013. Muslims have their own banking systems, marriage laws and the freedom to certify their foods as halal”. In the Eastern Province a massive university to award Shariah Law degrees is currently under construction under the patronage of the Saudi Government, who had pledged Rs. 1,500 million. Any Muslim, not necessarily of Sri Lankan origin, may study in this University free of charge.

The third reason is, perhaps the most significant and must be taken into serious account. Media units such as AFP are trying to portray the ban on the niqab face veil, hijab scarves and abaya robes as an act of intimidation. On 1 May, Amal Jayasinghe’s bold headline ‘Sri Lanka Muslim Women Uncover Out of Fear’ was published in The Island. However, as noted in the article itself, Archbishop Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith has observed that this ban had been advocated by the Muslim clerics themselves.

Indeed, long before the Easter Sunday massacres prominent President’s Counsel Ali Sabri had been questioning the rationale of this dress code. He had repeatedly challenged to prove the relation between this black dress and Islamism. This importation of alien cultures from countries such as Saudi has been denounced by Sabri. It is his view that Sri Lankan Muslims must live as Sri Lankans and not as Muslims in Sri Lanka. He is not alone in this viewpoint.

Despite this misleading heading, Jayasinghe had also reported the statement of a Muslim septuagenarian who had said, As Sri Lankan Muslims became more educated they shed the purdah.” She had also stated that she had never covered her face and that she had no issues with the ban.

Wahabism that is taking strong roots in Sri Lanka is obviously very worrying for most in the Muslim community. Even the Muslim politicians, who were in open conflict with the then Minister Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, for highlighting the existence of ISIS almost two and a half years ago, are now seen to be distancing themselves from these extremist groups. In fact, Western Province Governor Azath Salley claims that he was one of the first to highlight these elements, but the Government failed to take appropriate action.

It is thus obvious that the Easter Sunday massacres were not due to any communal issue. This is further reinstated by the video featuring the IS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s statement. He chooses this carnage to come out of his five-year hibernation to claim the attacks in Sri Lanka as a retaliation for the loss of Baghuz, the last stronghold of IS in Syria. The most chilling message he delivers is that winning is not what God ordered, but waging jihad. This means that their ultimate goal is absolute destruction without achieving anything tangible.

His obvious attempt is to convey the impression of a group of madmen hell bent on a psychopathic mission. The reaction expected of us is to demand the absolute destruction of ISIS. While the need to do so is without question, there are pressing questions that need urgent answers for it is imperative we identify the face of the real enemy, instead of falling for decoys.

The amount of explosives uncovered, to date, since the destruction of the Buddha statues in Mawanella is mind-boggling. Even the security forces are not familiar with this type of explosives. The key question is, how did these explosives come into the country and who provided the logistics to move them to locations across the country. The second question is, why a madman in Syria, specifically decides on a target that is hardly visible on the world map.

US Role

The CIA is openly accused, for the creation of terrorist groups such as Al Qaeda and ISIS. It is not a secret that, by coincidence or otherwise, America had gained where these terrorists have thrived. US conduct vis-a-vis Sri Lanka is adding to the suspicion that ISIS is just an excuse for American boots to land in our country. Earlier this year, the cargo that was brought into Sri Lanka via the Katunayaka International Airport on a C-2A Greyhound carrier has raised fresh suspicion.

The explosive detector that was found in Jaic Hilton in the possession of US diplomats has further exacerbated these suspicions. As the Security Officers had explained the dogs were trained to detect explosives and not detectors. Therefore, these detectors have clearly been exposed to explosives. Though this happened immediately after the massacres, the US diplomats had refused to cooperate.

US have pledged all the support needed to root out ISIS in Sri Lanka. If they are genuine, then the first step would be for them to abide by Sri Lankan laws.

They must not further erode relations between the two countries by allowing such suspicions to grow. It must also be noted that the terrorists responsible for the carnage were radicalised while living in Western countries. Therefore, these respective governments must first uproot and clean their own backyard.

We would not have been in this mess had it been for their ‘Regime Change’ exercise that led to the 30/1 Geneva Resolution. This in turn led to the dismantling of our National Security. We must learn from our mistakes and the rest of the world must give us space to do so.

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