A lively discussion on bringing communities together for peace building was held on Sunday 25 August at the Academy of Adult Education for women’s premises at Kalubowila. Held under the theme “Peace-Building-socially engaged pluralism understanding-“The other” the meeting was attended by members from all three communities-Sinhalese, Tamils and Muslims.
Organised by Muslim women’s Research and Action forum, MWRAF, the meeting provided a much needed opportunity to discuss some of the burning issues splitting communities apart in a friendly atmosphere.
In her keynote address former principal of Bambalapitiya Muslim Ladies College Deshabandu Jezima Ismail explained in brief about basics of Islam which guides Muslim from almost every aspect of life from the time one wakes up in the morning up to going to bed in the night. She said it is a way of life suitable to all countries and communities worldwide.
Jezima who has served as a cultural link between Muslims and non-Muslim communities and won the hearts of Sinhalese and Tamils alike has been the pioneer tirelessly spearheading for decades the campaign for reforms in the Muslim Marriage and Divorce Act, MMDA, to ensure rights of Muslim women and end to their sufferings
She continues this struggle to date.
Speaking in Tamil columnist and researcher Dr Rauf Zain dealt with different aspects of Islam and cleared doubts and misunderstanding on some burning issues. His speech was explained in fluent Sinhala by As Sheikh Miner. Sheikh Muneer explained in Sinhalese language which help clear many misunderstanding.
Speaking about the political, economic and social crisis in the country veteran journalist Latheef Farook explained how racist politics of the two main political parties-United National Party and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party-turned this paradise of an island into a killing field.
Elaborating he said during the time of Independence in 1948 Sri Lanka was a shining example for the entire third world for political and economic stability and communal harmony. Indians came here for medical treatment and education and the island’s GDP growth was second only to Japan.
“Today Sri Lanka is one of the most mismanaged countries in the world. There is political instability and economic crisis. Crime and corruption have become integral part of the country. Communities remain divided .The situation is such that no one knows where the country is heading towards” said Latheef who attributed this pathetic situation to the mismanagement by UNP-and SLFP-the two parties which ruled the country alternatively since independence.
He also spoke about the atrocities committed by both Rajapaksa government and the Maithri-Ranil government in persecuting Muslims and alienating them. Meanwhile at the end of the meeting it was decided to hold this meeting as often as possible in view of its positive response