We need to move on from the past | Daily News


We need to move on from the past

We had a massive meeting filling BMICH and many other campaigns condemning racism and religious vulgarity throughout the country. But sane rational thinking has not covered the entire space. Though explained, over and over again, still Muslims are under suspicion. Some do not content with stopping at the issue of swords in the present day, they also referred back two millennia to the time of the great Buddhist kingdoms of India and to how ancient Buddhist university at Nalanda was looted, burned and utterly destroyed by invading Muslims who also slew thousands of Buddhist monks!

However, they could not remember that more recently Portuguese Catholics destroyed the city of Kotte. Thousands of Muslims protected Sinhala Buddhist leaders and sacred Dalada and escaped to Kandyan kingdom. Still, some had no good faith or trust in the goodwill of Muslims towards the Buddhists while Catholics have become kith and kin. On the contrary, there is the irrational fear that continues to remain deeply entrenched in the psyche of many people, such that eating the food prepared by Muslims can be dangerous on account of infertility drugs introduced to render the non-Muslims sterile and unable to reproduce their communities! We are in a fool’s paradise!

Ideology of ISIS

We had a discussion to understand the theology of ISIS with the participation of members of all religions and rationalists. We expected to understand the ideology of ISIS. But it turned out to be a critical investigation of what Muslims are doing in this country. Hence it was miserable and a failure. It exposed, in a way that confusion in the society is deep and sensitive. Maybe the wounds inflicted upon the Lankan society by the Easter Sunday attack on Christian churches are not healed but continue to grow and become poisonous. They are not going away as expected by rational activists, and as might have been expected, in a country where rational thinking is rooted with Buddhist influence. However, this increasingly looks like the fate of those who died or went missing in the three-decade-long racist war. The much-discussed restoration process, dealing with the human rights violations that took place during the war period, which was being pushed forward by initiatives from the international community appears to be forgotten at this time with political attention going to the Easter Sunday bombings and its fallout.

A few months after the six deadly bomb blasts that claimed the lives of 255 persons, polarization between the country’s national and religious communities continued to grow at a rapid pace. However democratic forces moved in all direction of the country with agitations campaigns and meetings. These forces were able to stop extremisms. The local government institutions that are being subjected to division, with Tamils and Sinhalese joining hands in the eastern town of Kalmunai to demand an equal local government to match the one currently dominated by Muslims was arrested and saner thinking re-established.

Today we are reminded in different ways how close we are to another attack. There are many warnings that another attack is on the way. Apparently, there was intelligence information of on possible attack, though it was not specified what type of attack or where. There was supposed to be a larger presence of police on the ground on Sunday as a result, but there was no attack. If another bomb were indeed to go off, and take with it many lives, there could be a sudden descent into chaos. In that discussion, one participant referred to the discovery of many swords in the places of worship and homes of Muslims which precipitated ill for the rest of the country. Several spoke about the violent practice in Muslim countries of chopping off the limbs of those convicted of wrongdoing. Yes, rational arguments fail sometimes. But we are not going to allow racists and religious fanatics to run the country.

The highest ranking religious clergy who were not immune to this polarization and came out with vulgar demands that have the capacity to misguide them away, from more universal values they are expected to uphold. He was condemned, pushed down immediately. One of the prelates had called for an economic boycott of Muslim businesses. He has even said that the stoning to death of suspected offenders on the other side of the divide, but it was ridiculed out by the democratic yahapalana forces.

Rational democratic forces

It all sounds so irrational but it is not serious; because the rational mind is the forerunner of all human organisations. Rational democratic forces are confronting racism and religious vulgarities are pushed down in all directions.

If we believe in absurdities we will be capable of atrocities. This includes mass riots and crimes against communities. These have happened in Sri Lanka and they have happened elsewhere. On the other hand, when rational democratic forces make militant campaigns to defeat racism and religious vulgarity, we can win. That happened in South Africa and in Malaysia. Of course in countries like Rwanda, where positive forces were defeated, minority people were described as cockroaches and a million were eliminated in a few days because they belonged to another community, though they shared the same religion!

It is very clear that the attack on Christian churches in Sri Lanka was not done by Muslims, extremist or otherwise. It was done by a group of people who believe in a new religious ideology emerged recently. It proposes sacrifice of self and all connected in a violent explosion, to arrive immediately in Heaven or Swarga! They condemn the separation of the human body from the soul as given in the Bible, hence their belief of explosive death; to remove the whole body and the soul by an explosion, to swarga. Unfortunately, though everybody accuses ISIS, it is almost impossible to de-link ordinary Muslim from ISIS. At the same time, many believe ISIS is a creation of American CIA!


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