Muslims remain frightened as the government failed to protect them in the past
Sinhala extremist group Bodu Bala Sena, BBS, known for inciting violence against Muslims, is organizing a conference in Kandy today to be attended by monks from all over the Island.
This meeting is organized, despite emergency regulations in force, by BBS General Secretary Galadoga Aththe Gnanasara Thera, released from prison by President Sirisena. This comes at a time when anti-Muslim campaign has made the community isolated and ostracized.
Neither police nor any other authority did not stop this provocative meeting which has all the ingredients to provoke violence against Muslims.
Though he claimed that he has changed since he was released Gnanasara Thera remains unchanged. For example he brought a Muslim woman married to a Sinhalese man to a media conference on July 2 to speak about her harassment by Muslims for marrying a Sinhalese man. This was a clear move to poison Sinhalese minds against Muslims.
Within days, contradicting this claim, people from the Atulugama village where Sinhalese and Muslims live like one family pointed out that this Muslim woman was first married to a Muslim man whom she divorced and married a Sinhalese man. They have two children and the villagers were disturbed that, they suspected, she was living with another person and informed the police.
Muslims in and around Kandy remain frightened especially in view of government’s failure to stop racists attacks on them in the past. According to reports all Muslim owned shops are likely to be closed today as they do not have any trust in the government which turned blind eye when Muslims were attacked last year around Kandy and now in the North Western part of the island after Easter Sunday tragedy.
Muslim community as a whole has lost confidence on President Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremasinghe to provide protection to them though the Muslim parliamentarians shamelessly cling on to the government.
In the recent development Muslim community was subjected to immense hardships ever since the 21 April 2019 bombing of churches and five star hotels killing around 300 people.
This crime was reported to have been committed by a group of Muslims belonging to extremist National Thowheed Jamaath.NTJ. Muslim community declared that it has nothing to do with this carnage and some even handed over their own relatives to the authorities suspected of involvement. The community also refused to provide religious burial to those suspects who were killed.
From the very beginning Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith announced that these NTJ youths were misguided ones and the real culprits were international forces.
Instead of explaining why the government failed to prevent the carnage, President Sirisena declared emergency and deployed troops to search Muslim owned premises including mosques. Search operations became nightmare for Muslim families and hundreds were taken to custody on flimsy grounds and detained for weeks with reports of ill treatment.
Search operations resembled Israeli search operations in the occupied Palestinian areas while violent attacks burning Muslim owned properties and even killing innocent Muslims resembled the Hindu fascist RSS, BJP, VHP, and Shiv Sena and Bajrang Dal attacks on Muslims in north India.
President Sirisena swiftly banned face cover- burqa and niqab.
Organized racist thugs were given free hand and this culminated in the violence against Muslims in the North East. According to reports President Sirisena was aware of the attacks on May 13.Instead of deploying troops and prevent the attacks he left the island to China in the morning leaving the disarmed and helpless Muslims to face equipped killers.
Muslim houses, business establishments, hotels and other such places were burnt during curfew hours while an innocent fasting Muslim was chopped to death and another battered Muslim man was dragged in the street to hospital where he died. Some of the attackers were freed on bail and a notorious thug known for his violence against Muslims in Digana last year was garlanded and taken in procession.
The Easter Sunday carnage has caused immense sufferings to beleaguered Muslims community which is placed on the dock. Every Muslim man, woman and even children, were treated with suspicion, hatred and bitterness. So called search operations by armed forces using emergency regulations have become nightmare for innocent Muslim families who remain frightened. Not only hospital security but even shops and super markets forced Muslim women to remove traditional shawls besides other atrocities.
Sinhala lawyers refused to appear for Muslims taken into custody, doctors refused to treat Muslim women insisting that they remove their head scarves, Muslim shops were boycotted, a pradeshiya sabah chairman prevented Muslim from trading in the market, some temples began advising Buddhists not to deal with Muslims and this ostracization continues unabated while US-European- Israeli war mongers’ Islamophobia brought to the island pushed Muslims to the wall.
One columnist pointed out that “Life has become a nightmare in their ordinary day to day living and virtually changed every aspect of life in the island’s Muslim population. Harassment, discrimination and a well-orchestrated hate campaign has been taking shape in the public domain, demonizing, alienating and fostering a besieged mentality towards Muslims. He added that racism has found a new meaning in Sri Lanka. And everything Muslims are being targeted. There is total harassment of Muslims in public places, buses and trains, taxis and even in work places
In this tense atmosphere, tearing apart the communities, came the shocking call by Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thera, the incumbent Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter, for stoning to death of Muslims and urging Sinhala Buddhists to refrain from frequenting Muslim-owned shops and consuming food offered by Muslims. The Chief Prelate also asked Sinhalese Buddhists not to go to Muslim owned shops, and not to eat the food they offer as Muslims don’t love Sinhalese.
The Thera said such ‘traitors’ must not be left in peace. Thera’s statement drew swift condemnation from people in the island and Tibet’s respected Buddhist leader Dalai Lama living in exile.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet says that she is disturbed by reports of anti-Muslim attacks and recent statements by some religious leaders inciting violence.
This is the reason why not only Muslims in and around Kandy but throughout the country fear that violence could erupt anytime following today’s meeting in Kandy.