Multi-culturalism as basis for peace | Daily News

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Multi-culturalism as basis for peace

It was last Tuesday that former Prime Minister of Turkey Prof. Ahmet Davtoglu gave a lecture on the above topic at the BMICH, Colombo. He was delivering the 20th Commemoration Lecture of Former Speaker Bakeer Marker. In view of the relevance and topicality of the subject of his lecture we were prompted by the desire to make its content known to a wider audience through this column.

He was attracted to Sri Lanka due to its natural and human diversity, he confessed at the beginning. Taking local examples he showed the beauty and strength of diversity. For example he spoke of the beauty of the Peradeniya Botanical gardens which he said consists in the variety of plants and other foliage found there. Though Rose is the most beautiful flower a Garden of roses alone would not be so beautiful if there were no other plants, he said. In other words, he was stressing that unity in diversity is natural. On the cultural front he was impressed by the Kandy Esala Perahera, which was a fine example of multi-religious and multi-cultural diversity.

Unity in diversity is the characteristic of all successful nations, he argued. Nations and empires prospered when they had multi-cultural unity and they deteriorated or were destroyed when that unity was replaced by the hegemony of one ethnic community over the others. He referred to Iraq, Syria, Roman and Ottoman empires et al as examples of states and empires that fell apart due to the lack of multi-cultural unity.

Modern globalization

Hinting that uni-culturalism is abnormal in today’s world, he showed that all nations are multi-cultural, particularly almost all cities are multi-cultural, he said. We also see that development of trade, communications and international and internal migration has given a tremendous boost to diversity instead of uniformity and multi-culturalism instead of uni-culturalism due to the advent of modern globalization. Taking the examples of Greece and Turkey Prof. Davtoglu showed how uni-culturalism leads to separation of communities.

Emphasizing the equality of all languages and cultures he showed how the denial of language and cultural rights of communities lead to internal strife and destabilization of countries. Even if we are afraid to look in the mirror at ourselves a glance at Israel or Bosnia or apartheid South Africa would suffice for us to comprehend the death and destruction caused by unilateral suppression of one community by another. Similarly Canada, Norway, India among others point to the vitality of ethnic and religious multi-culturalism.

For multi-culturalism to become a basis for peace it should be developed at four levels, Professor Davtoglu said. They are local or neighbourhood level, national level, regional level and international level.

First of all villages or neighbourhoods should be united with no ethnic or religious feuds. Diversity should be taken as strength. This would prevent any outside interference in disturbing the unity and harmony in the area. Unless neighbourhood unity and diversity exists there cannot be any national unity and harmony.

National level multi-culturalism demands that the national state respects and practice policies of ethnic, religious equality of all communities and refrain from any type of racial or religious discrimination. The language rights of all communities including the numerically minor communities should be respected with no compromise with hegemonic forces. There should be political, economic and cultural equality of all citizens and equitable distribution of wealth.

United Nations

National multi-culturalism will be difficult to maintain if there are regional powers in the neighbouring region influencing divisive internal forces. All countries, big or small, developed or undeveloped, in the region should be equal. Economic or military strength should not be a criterion of superiority. This is the third level of multi-culturalism desired.

At the international level too there should prevail multi-cultural diversity and harmony. This is easier said than done. There can be no country that is more equal than the others. That is why it is impossible to accept the discriminatory nature of the United Nations, the veto powers given to 5 out of nearly 200 nations in the world, said Prof. Davtoglu. He likewise contested the authority of the 5 + 1 countries (China, Russia, Britain, France, the United States and Germany) in taking decisions with regard to the nuclear programme of North Korea. Where is the equality of nations, he queried.

Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe who spoke before the Guest Speaker also expressed himself in the same vein as the latter. He showed how all communities inhabiting our island have lived in unity and harmony through centuries. Whenever entire Sri Lanka was united under one sovereign different sub-kingdoms existed autonomously under the sovereign monarch respecting the unity of the country, he said. The existence of Hindu Gods and their worship by Buddhists as well as the intermingling of communities through marriage etc. are good examples of religious and communal diversity, he said. The Muslim community also assimilated the customs and practices of Sinhala and Tamil communities amidst whom they settled and lived for over a Century, he added. Sri Lanka belongs to all these communities and all of them should have equal rights, he insisted. The Constitution that is being drafted would ensure a climate conducive to all citizens and communities to live with equal rights, privileges, dignity and in harmony, he reiterated. 



There are 2 Comments

It is easy for some practioners of politics to damage the dignity of society and country by bringing in policies to damage he country inspite of many a politicians fall victims for similar catastrophe creating social unrest not to say onset of terrorism which inspite it happened some who partake init claim to deny this who knows whT goes in the minds of self centered political pundits political cowards political liars in future.. Many will show many will die off history will be not pleasant to lankan politicians for years to come

Diversity multi culture is known across the globe by virtue of globalism knowledge refugees selected movement of population. Yes weare different. Even in single household different opinion interpretation of life habits. Well developed countries must cater to all while encouraging good education communication respecting each other. Politicians who enter politics councils parliament based on hate speeches should be dismissed from their position.communkcation trust cooperation vital. Discrimination is universal this must be not a culture of civilized society


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