Who are the real victims of ethno-religious extremism and bigotry?
Posted on June 2nd, 2020

By Rohana R. Wasala

One Shiffer Mohammed (SM) in an article published in a mainstream national paper on May 27, 2020 expressed his apprehensions about what he called ‘another ethno-religious war’ breaking out in Sri Lanka, blaming it on alleged racism, religious extremism and bigotry prevalent against Muslims in Sri Lanka. He may be genuinely concerned about his people’s and others’ right to be free from such threats. But it looks like he has been seriously misled by false propaganda targeting the peaceful, democratic, law abiding majority of the multiethnic multi-religious Sri Lankan people, who are at the receiving end of excesses perpetrated by certain murderous religious fundamentalist sects sponsored, as may be suspected, by well funded sources both domestic and foreign. However, why does SM talk about ‘another’ ethno-religious war?  When did Sri Lanka ever have an ‘ethno-religious war’? As SM himself says, the 30 year conflict was a ‘terrorist war’; it was not an ethnic or ethno-religious war. But no one can be sure if SM’s crying wolf is completely devoid of meaning in the present circumstances. Eastern province Muslim politician M.L.A.M. Hisbullah also threateningly pointed out that disgruntled Muslim youth would take up arms if their alleged grievances were not answered. His warnings were uttered some time before last year’s April 21 terror bombings. 

Be that as it may, we need not feel that alarmed. Please rest assured, SM. The story/stories that led you to imagine that an ethno-religious war is imminent in Sri Lanka cannot be true, whatever you may have heard or read to the contrary. I think you are labouring under a misapprehension regarding intercommunal and interreligious relations in Sri Lanka which remain as cordial and peaceful as ever. People of diverse faiths coexist peacefully under the umbrella of the extremely tolerant and accommodating moral spiritual culture of the island that has evolved due to the benign influence of Buddhism (which itself is not a religion, though, in the ordinary sense) during the past twenty three (23) centuries. Unfortunately, however, the recent incursion of a variety of forms of non-Buddhist religious extremism, particularly over the past half century, has put a strain on this accustomed placidly salutary state of affairs. Anti-Sri Lanka propaganda abroad and elsewhere disseminated by fundamentalist sympathisers and selfish shortsighted local politicians exploiting them to advance their own anti-nationalist political agendas  seems to have misled SM. It is they who want to create disharmony between the mainstream Muslim minority and the majority Sinhalese Buddhists. False propaganda of this nature is a far worse virus that is infinitely more harmful to the multireligious multicultural Sri Lankan people than the raging, global pandemic causing, novel coronavirus that collective human ingenuity  will definitely overcome with the discovery of a proper remedy sooner or later.

Though SM has allowed himself to be misled by misinformation, these days it is easy for any Sri Lankan living abroad like him to be fairly accurately informed about what is actually happening there through the main local media channels (not all of them, however) and the impartial independent social media networks that are available. But this is somewhat difficult if one does not have sufficient empathy with average Sri Lankan citizens. It must not be forgotten that Western corporate media Al Jazeera and CNN are hopelessly biased against Sri Lanka. Of course, the profusion of news on offer must be intelligently analysed before jumping to unwarranted conclusions such as that ‘They can prolong their corrupt rule with the pretext of protecting the country and the Sinhala Buddhist nation, by having another so-called ethno-religious terrorist war’, where ‘They’ refer to alleged ‘corrupt politicians’ (presumably, of the present administration/caretaker government). 

The last is a deliberately misleading statement. Some members of the former Yahapalanaya are the ones who deserve such denunciation. They include some notorious characters who helped the infamous FCID to frame false charges against political opponents. It is only recently, after GR became president, that independent police investigations, relating to dozens of cases filed against certain corrupt ministers of the previous Yahapalana regime during its four and a half year term, began in ernest, free from any interference or undue pressure from those in power. Among the former ministers facing corruption and power abuse investigations are some powerful but opportunistic Muslim politicians who cannot survive in politics without the help of communalism, and they are raising a hue and cry about non-existent racism and religious extremism among Sinhalese Buddhists. SM is unwittingly and accidentally throwing a lifeline to these corrupt Muslim politicos.

So, there is a thick smokescreen of false propaganda against the Sinhalese Buddhist majority island nation, which is just emerging or struggling to do so from a period of unprecedented threats to its independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity. November 2019 produced an eagerly awaited change in the form of a new executive president being elected. President Gotabhaya has not been a politician before. He has a clean, distinguished track record as a decorated military officer of twenty years, and as an efficient civil administrator for ten years during the presidency of his brother Mahinda (2005-15). Five years of witch-hunting by the Yahapalanaya found no evidence of corruption against them. It is completely unjustified for SM to claim that the  ruling politicians today want to prolong their ‘corrupt rule’ under the pretext of ‘protecting the country and the Sinhala Buddhist nation’. The pre-poll minority government finds itself constitutionally handicapped. President GR is unable to implement his well conceived plans for the restoration of good governance and sound economic development because of the absence of an elected parliament. The Covid-19 emergency has made the situation worse. However, the pandemic is being contained and controlled with commendable efficiency.  It is now nationally and internationally appreciated that, had it not been for Gotabaya and Mahinda at the helm, the challenge would not have been met so quickly and with such success. People are convinced that a parliament must be elected that can work with the president without being a stumbling block to him. The corrupt politicians of the opposition who are stoking communalism through false propaganda do so because they fear elections to be held before they have had enough time to demonise those who stand to win. 

What SM imprecisely and misleadingly calls ‘Protecting the country and the Sinhala Buddhist nation’ is a much misconstrued subject among Sri Lanka bashers.  But, in reality, it is a supremely worthy cause for the nationalists of all communities who make Sri Lanka their home. Nationalists do not talk about a ‘Sinhala Buddhist nation’, but a country of the Sinhalese (Sinhale) whose age-old religious cultural core is Buddhist; a geographical or territorial entity where people of diverse races and religions live peaceably as equal citizens without suffering discrimination of any kind; The dominant host  culture which is Buddhist and hence ideally democratic is the cement that gives cohesiveness to this whole. Throughout their history the Sinhalese have fought for the Buddhist religious establishment and the country whose heart it is as a single cherished object. That is why historians maintain that for the Sinhalese jaatyalaya or love of the nation has always been territorial and not racial. 

Detractors of the national endeavour to protect the country and the nation (people whose home it is) wrongly assume that Sri Lanka’s nationalism is an exclusive anti-democratic totalitarian Sinhala Buddhist political ideology. It is not. Sri Lanka has been the inalienable homeland of the Sinhalese from time immemorial. In ancient times it was known as Sinhale, the country of the Sinhalese. They had been a civilized people long before Buddhism arrived in the 3rd century BCE. The Sinhalese have had an unbroken history of over two thousand three hundred years (since the official introduction of Buddhism) of having been shaped by the extremely accommodating inclusive Buddhist religious culture. Tamil and Muslim minorities have lived in peaceful harmony with the majority community for the last one thousand years of the country’s long history. No religious culture in the world better accommodates diverse other religions and allows them to coexist with it in complete freedom and safety  than the Sinhalese Buddhist culture. 

Therefore the reality is that there is no widespread racism or religious bigotry in Sri Lanka as alleged by SM. This false charge of racism and religious bigotry arose principally because some young Buddhist monks and lay persons who decades ago became aware of the unacceptable activities of certain extremist religious groups funded from abroad, started peacefully protesting against them, and appealed to the authorities (of the government and the Mahanayake officialdom). These activities include forced conversions, vandalizing and encroachment of ancient Buddhist places of worship, and other alleged hostile acts against Buddhists. The fundamentalist groups have been a problem to traditional Muslim and Christian mainstreams as much as to Buddhists and Hindus. Politicians in power have to date avoided getting involved in finding solutions to this problem because they fear unpopularity among minority voters who are under the sway of certain communalistic minority politicians who themselves succumb to the secret coercion of the few fundamentalist elements usually sponsored from moneyed sources abroad. Money and media have turned these monks into terrorists and lawless mischief-makers. Had they had been taken seriously, the April 21 tragedies last year would have been avoided. (These are not frivolous assertions; they are based on evidence as can be found by anyone interested enough.)  

Racism and bigotry charges against Buddhists are  being repeated with increasing vehemence these days, partly because general elections are in the offing. This has also been indirectly triggered by extremists exploiting the fact that restrictions imposed by health authorities on the performance of last rites and disposal of dead bodies of Covid-19 victims in accordance with WHO guidelines have touched a raw nerve among people of different religious faiths experiencing bereavement. In some countries these restrictions can be and are relaxed or modified without violating the mandatory precautions prescribed (eg., as to the mode of disposal: burial or cremation) given available options; but where Sri Lanka is concerned, choices are extremely limited. That situation should not be interpreted as discrimination against the adherents of a particular religious persuasion. But political opportunists cash in on those unalterable circumstances. Opportunistic Muslim politicos do this because there is no real ‘ethno-religious cauldron in Sri Lanka’ for them to benefit from.

The tragic plight of the real victims of these offences is that they get labelled as the offenders around the world through false propaganda, and their cries of protest are not heard even in the mainstream media.

One Response to “Who are the real victims of ethno-religious extremism and bigotry?”

  1. Ancient Sinhalaya Says:

    To find out why mussies are loathed he should look in the mirror.
    If he still can’t see it, a few reasons.
    1 Multiplying at alarming rate to take over the country. This is what the mussies did to old Buddhist iran, afganisthan,
    Bangladesh, Malaysia and Indonesia after arriving in those countries with their baby machine wives (BMWs?). Tried recently in Buddhist Myanmar and failed miserably since they had a patriotic leader.
    2 destroying our archaeological sites to settle down new breeds
    3 land grabbing, business acquisitions to wrestle control
    4 sword factories/bomb factories at every street corner to kill Sinhalese by millions
    5 adding sterile agents/spraying the same to food/undergarments of Sinhalese
    6 importing more breeders and settle down in mussie areas as if we don’t have enough breeders already
    7 drug business to destroy our youth
    8 halal, burka, Goni billa dress (high fashion in hell among ghosts) to impose their will on us
    9 loud speakers to drive out Sinhalese from areas (21st century, no watches?)
    10 fastest breeding religion aka religion of violence which doesn’t not make sense in the 21st century or all science
    Buddhism, the only true religion? By the way why god make people black, white etc to kill each other or environment
    making them? Darwin’s Theory of Evolution?
    11 mussies planned to kill millions in one night, but the mass murder project was found out with halal bombs.
    12 Landing powerful ministries with increased multiplying and promoting even more mass breeding
    Etc etc any dirty, crafty thing they wii use it. Still not admitting and playing saint alone should be enough to loathe.

    These are very very crafty, ungrateful, untrustworthy people. One traitor lot killed 100,000+, mainly Sinhalese. Not a word to say sorry and getting ready for next drealam war home and abroad. Mussies getting ready for mussisthan war
    to kill Sinhalese. Both traitors don’t want Sinhalese in Sri Lanka and won’t rest until they get their kingdoms after killing
    millions of Sinhalese. But it won’t end there since the traitors will be fighting to expand their territories and will make Sinhalese refugees in their own land.

    Do we want to sacrifice 100s of 1000s Sinhalese lives on these drealam and mussisthan wars looming in the not too
    distant future? We should petition the GOSL to send these people back to where they came from. Colonials brought Tamils to work in tobacco and tea plantations. Then a lot of kallathonis came during the 60s to save their lives. Mussies
    are traders came from Saudi. Mussies were saved from parang bullet by King Senarath who pitied on them and settled
    them down in the east. Today both traitor lots want to annihilate the Sinhalese. How treacherous? All traitor Tamil and mussie deshapaluwas fault for promoting separatist, Sinhalese murdering agenda since independence. Take away the traitors’ civic rights for the irreparable damage they done to destroy the social fabric of the country.

    Traitor alugosuwa thambi mudiyanselage [email protected] scrapped the Sirima-Shasthri Pact which was operational and gave citizenship to all 650,000+. Today they must be numbering 3-4 millions and aspire for a greater drealam. After all Mr Modi opened the gate for them recently and waiting. Mussies can go to Saudi or those other 80 musssie countries and live happily ever after. Halal, burka, several wives, Goni billa etc etc already there and they don’t have to kill any Sinhalese.

    Sinhalese, petition the GOSL to send these ungrateful, untrustworthy, never a good deed in the last 400 years, apart
    from great Murali, to where they came from. They are getting ready home and abroad to kill all of us and make us
    refugees in our own land. If we keep these undesirables on our soil Sri Lanka going to be an eternal bloodbath since they don’t want to co-exist with the Sinhalese! Start the petition now to save millions of Sinhalese lives. All 3 parties going to realise it was the right thing to do to avert eternal bloodbaths when the dust settles.

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