Musthapha’s plea | Daily News

Musthapha’s plea

One cannot but help feeling for former Minister and present Colombo District UPFA MP Faiszer Musthapha who pleaded with the majority community not to view all Muslims with hostility due to the deeds of a misguided few. In an impassioned plea, during a media conference on Sunday, the MP appealed to all not to sideline kon karanda epa the Muslim community for the Easter Sunday attacks which he said were carried out by a bunch of terrorists, and, not, as some called them, Muslim extremists. He said, as a community, Muslims were against terrorism and they have lost the love and respect of the other communities due to a minority group involved in terrorism.

The MP’s comments should be taken in the context of the close ties that exist between the Sinhalese and Muslims that date back to the time of the Sinhala kings. It is the kings who gave sanctuary to the Muslim traders when they were on the run from the Colonial invaders. Hence, the Muslims have been living in brotherhood with the Sinhalese from historical times barring a few aberrations down the years, which, in any event, did not cause a dent in this mutual bond in any serious manner.

Even in the realm of politics, Muslims contested and won elections in Sinhala Buddhist dominated electorates. M.H., Mohamed (Borella), A.C.S. Hammed (Akurana) and M. H. Bakeer Markar (Beruwala) are among the few examples of Sinhala-Muslim fraternity. Prominent Muslim leaders such as Dr. T. B. Jayah were also involved in the country’s freedom struggle and contributed towards the nation’s welfare in numerous ways.

Hence, the Easter Sunday terror attacks should not in anyway be allowed to cause a breach in this long standing relationship between the two communities. Not just Musthapha, all Muslim political leaders have come out strongly in condemning the bombings, and, not stopping at that, have openly come out to assist in identifying the suspects at great risk to themselves. In a separate media conference Sri Lanka Muslim Congress Leader Rauff Hakeem even wants investigations carried out to ascertain how certain weapons such as swords had found their way into Mosques. He said places of worship should not be used to instigate any kind of attack against anybody. He praised the Armed Forces for their untiring efforts to eradicate terrorism.

Besides, unlike the northern Tamils, the Muslims never demanded a separate state, and, Muslim leaders held political office in the central government under all administrations. Presently, there are a quite a few Muslim MPs elected from both major parties, from outside Muslim strongholds in the east, a clear indication of their closeness to the majority community. During the LTTE days all Tamils were branded as terrorists by certain sections. But this could not be said of the Muslims. Both Sinhalese and Muslims suffered at the hands of the LTTE, the Muslims consigned to a worse fate being banished from the east sans all their belongings to wander in the wilderness for years until the war was brought to a successful conclusion.

Hence, there is good reason to expect relations to be back on an even keel before long once the magnitude of the Ester Sunday horror gradually wears off. Politicians of all hues, too, should step in to help mend the strained relations. This is because both major parties have sizable Muslim support and are obliged to work towards reconciliation. In this regard it is encouraging to note that no strident calls are being made from any quarter against the Muslims as a whole barring the highlighting of security lapses and the questionable conduct of certain Muslim politicians. Provoking mass hysteria can only aggravate an already inflammatory situation when levelheadedness is what is called for from all politicians. On this score, former President and Opposition Leader Mahinda Rajapaksa has acted in exemplary fashion being unequivocal in his defence of the Muslim community, during his speech in Parliament, the other day. Certainly his close links to Palestine and its cause has tempered his sentiments on the current situation. Perhaps, His Eminence Malcolm Cardinal Ranjith’s conciliatory approach had rubbed off on all sections, to act with restraint.

Be that as it may, it behoves on the rulers to ensure all possible traces of the Jihadists are located and their networks destroyed .This is imperative if the security situation is to return to normal. Nothing short of total assurance in this regard is going to convince the public as to their safety. The tension is by no means over, with the people furtive about others on the streets. The schoolchildren are affected psychologically that would affect their concentration. The Mahanayke’s want the opening of schools to be deferred until the security situation is brought to normal. The Ven Theras want all schools to be opened on a single day. This perhaps is a sound idea, on the face of it, since no group should be behind the school syllabus while another has gained. It could even lead to the postponement of the GCE (O/L), (A/L) examinations. It is time that a council of political leaders is formed, as suggested by His Eminence, to map out an overall plan to get the entire state apparatus moving in the right direction. 


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