Tuesday, June 10, 2008

The Muslim Politicians, and the UNP are responsible for the recent communal violence in the East of Sri Lanka.

A report in IRIN Humanitarian news and analysis read “………. Clashes were triggered by the 22 May killing of two members of the Tamil Makkal Viduthalai Pullikal (TMVP), the prominent Tamil political party in the district, in Kathankudi, a Muslim majority town south of Batticaloa City.

"There is a history of tension between the two communities and the killings of the TMVP members added to it," according to Mujeeb Rahaman, information officer of the Colombo-based Muslim Information Centre (MIC) rights group.”

The blame for this unfortunate incidents should be taken by those responsible for the divisive election campaign conducted by the SLMC-UNP combination during the provincial elections of the East, and for accentuating this Communal division by the Hisbollah group attempting to vindicate their right to the office of the Chief Minister of the East.

The President Mr.Mahinda Rajapakse in his greater wisdom knew that the Muslim Politicians would, blinded by their desire to capture political power at any cost, would stir communal violence in the East. He therefore advised them to see the reality of the situation and allow the office of the CM go to Pillaiyan of TMVP, which after all was the more appropriate and urgent solution.

The Muslims of the East to support Hisbollah’s repeated claim for the Office of CM, and the threat to quit the UPFA to sit as an independent group, called a strike shutting down their shops. This did not help to create an atmosphere of peace and unity between the two Communities in the East . The result was the assassination of two Tamils in Kathankudi, followed by killing in reprisal two Muslims.

These unfortunate deaths resulted from the most unthoughtful attitude of the Muslim Politicians.

These Muslim Politicians and their supporters remained in the fringe away from bombs and bullets, watching the Tamils and the Sinhala kill each other, either as terrorists or as soldiers, and when the smoke had settled in the battle front, came out, without a passing thought for those who had died before they could claim victory, or those who risked their lives to see the victory, to share the spoils of the war. And the worst of it, they claimed the prized pieces, leaving the rest for those who risked their lives, or lost their comrades in the battle.

This attitude of the Muslims of Sri Lanka should change. Unlike their Muslim counterparts in Arabia, the Muslims of Sri Lanka are living together in a multi-ethnic, multi-religious society. Therefore they have to adopt to the situation in which they find themselves. They cannot remain as a separate entity safeguarding only their own interests.

In Saudi Arabia, Abu Dhabi or Kuwait, where Islamism is the only religion, with a Muslim population, they may follow the religion of the Koran, which is primarily a religion founded for them, to the letter. But in countries which have different cultural back grounds, and different belief systems, the Islamic religious tenants should be “broadened” to suit the country, enabling the followers of Islamism to cohabit in peace and harmony with the followers of other faiths.

Sri Lankan Muslims should not look after the welfare of only the Muslim Community, imitating the Arab Nations whose generous aid is extended to Arab Countries or special projects for the Muslim Community in other countries,

In the West communal disharmony has been reduced by integrating people of different races and different faiths to live in the same space. But yet, even in the West, communal dissension has arisen from attempting to mix religious customs, in a strictly secular or lay society, and trying to live in segregation, away from those of other faiths.

In Sri Lanka there should be a social, cultural and religious evolution, after the terrible terrorism we had been compelled to live with for the last three decades. The Muslims, should develop a fraternal existence with the Sinhala and Tamil Communities. The Muslim Community should take part along with the other Communities, in the development of the country, and share both in its fortunes and misfortunes. They should refuse to be mere spectators, but active participants in Nation building. For that they should not make their religion a barrier, a wall built to separate them from the others.

In a foreign land if one were to meet another Sri Lankan, one would recognise him as a Sri Lankan, but will have difficulty in guessing whether he is a Tamil, Sinhala or Muslim. The reason is that each one of us belonging to one or the other Community, living and being brought up together, has assimilated the basic characteristic of a Sri Lankan. There is arecognisable similarity. A Muslim, whether he is from Sri Lanka, India, Malaysia, or an Arab State will have a cultural difference that distinguishes one from the other.

Therefore, whether we are Sinhala, Tamil or Muslim, we apparently have a distinctly common cultural background which is a mixture of Sinhala Buddhist, Hindu Tamil and Islamic Muslim. Therefore, we can set aside our religious differences, and develop a deep relationship of being Sri Lankans.

If the Muslims had built such a relationship with the rest of the Communities, the problem concerning the appointment of a Chief Minister to the Provincial Council of the East would not have arisen. Because the Muslim politicians would have then understood, the importance of giving the office of Chief Minister of Eastern Province to a Tamil, who had given up terrorism to follow a democratic path, to enable him to understand the value of democracy. Besides, making Pillaiyan the Chief Minister of the East, the continued terrorism for a Tamil Eelam has become futile.

Though Ranil Wickramasinghe and the UNP are also a party to the violence raising its head in the East, the people of Sri Lanka knows by now, that Ranil will engage even with the devil himself, if he could make things difficult for the President Mahinda Rajapakse, and his own dream of becoming the President of Sri Lanka could be realised.

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