Uphold religious harmony!
Much to the
consternation and pain of mind of moderate opinion in this
country, tensions of a religious nature erupted in Dambulla
recently. Such developments make a mockery of the oft heard
claim that religious disharmony is alien to this country. Our
earnest appeal to all concerned is that the misunderstanding at
the heart of the dispute be cleared up forthwith in the name of
peace and good will among the communities of this land.
Social conditions are far from ideal and conflicts among
groups cannot be ruled out but there is no alternative but to
resort to peaceful means of resolving these questions. Peaceful
approaches to conflict resolution are upheld by the religions of
this country and it is such methods that must be resorted to
when tensions arise over conflicting claims. It is a matter for
much sorrow and regret that the central teachings of our
religions are, thus, quickly downplayed when disputes arise.
Right away it must be said that the people as such are not
party to these conflicts. The vast majority of the people are
inclined to be peaceful in their ways and it would be inaccurate
to describe incidents such as those which erupted in Dambulla as
featuring communities. However, those at the centre of these
incidents constitute an influential minority and they could
ensure the spread of these tensions by playing on the emotions
of their supporters.
Accordingly, we call on all concerned to put their hearts and
minds together in an effective effort at defusing these tensions
which could be easily stoked into a conflagration by
rabble-rousers who may be really having as their end the
undermining of religious harmony in this country. We need to
state very emphatically that there is absolutely no need for
confrontation and contention on these questions.
The parties concerned should collaborate with the state in
peacefully and tranquilly resolving the question concerned.
Though small in physical terms, this country is large enough to
accommodate all the religions of this land and to provide them
with the necessary space to conduct their relevant observances.
It is only a matter of sitting together and having a fruitful
As far we can ascertain, the issue in Dambulla could easily
be resolved provided a spirit of compromise and understanding
prevails among the parties. We call on the reasonable and the
rational among all relevant groups, who constitute the majority,
to prevail on any contenders and impress on them the need to
give top priority to rational discourse in this matter, for, an
appeal to emotion could prove disastrous for the country.
At all times, the consideration needs to be borne in mind by
all concerned that the constitution of Sri Lanka provides for
the right to worship on the part of all our religious
communities. It is a fundamental right that is enjoyed by all.
Any attempts to subvert this principle would be tantamount to
destroying the democratic basis of the Sri Lankan polity. It
needs to be also remembered that religious fundamentalism tears
apart states and societies and plunges them into prolonged and
inexorable suffering and turmoil.
Sri Lanka is enjoying the prospect of blossoming into a
number one regional economic power, having put behind her a 30
year conflict which all but destroyed her. What is needed now is
a prolonged spell of social peace which would enable us to
recoup our losses and traverse the path of development
dynamically. All conditions are in place to make this and more
happen. However, social and religious tensions could reverse and
destroy these plans, perhaps forever.
The rational majority needs to come out strongly against the
stirring-up of tensions of a communal and religious kind. Sri
Lanka needs to be protected from the wasting scourge of
religious and kindred fundamentalisms. It is best to remember
that these cancers have only spelt disaster for other societies.
May it not be Sri Lanka's lot!