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  • A country obsessed with racial and religious conflicts
    Sri Lanka, as a nation has been wasting time debating sensitive racial and religious issues for the past several years, without gaining anything. Only thing the country has been witnessing as a result is communities distancing themselves from each other, while portraying a false unity among them. 
    The situation seems to have come to a head with people of various communities being emotionally charged over these issues subsequent to the attacks on three Christian churches and three major tourist hotels by the Islamic terrorists on April 21, 2019, which was also the Easter Sunday.
    The terrorist attacks which caught the nation off-guard demanded united action by all communities and political parties to handle the immediate situation and to prevent future recurrence of...
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  • Burqa ban: Security, human rights and male chauvinism
    A few years ago, on a Turkish beach exclusively for women, a bikini-clad woman offered her prayers. The video clip of the woman going through the postures of the Muslim prayer went viral and created a major debate among the Muslims.  Some censured her for not adhering to the dress code for prayers, but others said what mattered was her piety and not the dress.
    Following the release of the Easter Sunday terror attack commission report, Sri Lanka is mulling whether to ban burqa – the Muslim dress that covers a female body from head to toe – and niqab, which only shows the eyes of the wearer, but the issue needs to be looked at from human rights, security and spiritual angles to come to a right decision.
    If at the one end of the spectrum is public nudity, burqa will...
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  • South African Muslim bodies seek intervention over burqa ban in Sri Lanka Foreign Minister of South Africa urged to intervene
    South African Muslim organisations have called on the country’s foreign minister to intervene in the proposed Sri Lankan ban on the burqa and closure of hundreds of Islamic schools. This followed the announcement by Sri Lanka''s minister for public security, Sarath Weerasekera, during the weekend that his country would ban the traditional full-face covering worn by some Muslim women because it posed a threat to national security. This was quickly followed by a statement from the Sri Lankan foreign ministry, which said a decision would only be taken on the proposal after consultations and further discussion. The United Ulama Council of South Africa (UUCSA) has now asked South Africa’s Minister of International Relations and Co-operation Naledi Pandor to intervene in the matter. UUCSA had earlier also called for such intervention when...
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  • Banning Burqas and Madrasas illegal: Fmr MP
    Former MP M.M .Zuhair said yesterday it would be unlawful to ban Burqas and Madrasas. Issuing a statement, he said some observations and recommendations of the Commission on Easter Sunday attacks are invasive of the absolute protection given to every person under Article 10 of the Sri Lanka Constitution. He said the Commission’s report though good in parts, can be seen as an attempted assault on Islam for the heinous crimes of a dozen suicide bombers. The right to the freedom stated in Article 10 is ‘assured to all religions’ under Article 9. No one, not even Presidential Commissions can invite or promote the State or any limb of the Executive or Judiciary to violate the freedom guaranteed under Article 10.This protection is guaranteed notwithstanding any national security concerns, as the law stands today. In this constitutionally...
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  • Pakistan says likely ban on Niqab in SL to serve as injury on Muslims
    The Ambassador of Pakistan to Sri Lanka, Saad Khattak today said the likely ban on Niqab in Sri Lanka will only serve as an injury to the feelings of ordinary Sri Lankan Muslims and Muslims across the globe. In a tweet, the Ambassador said that at today’s economically difficult time due to COVID-19 pandemic and other image related challenges faced by the country at the international fora, such divisive steps in the name of security, besides accentuating economic difficulties, will only serve as fillip to further strengthen wider apprehensions about fundamental human rights of minorities in the country. Minister of Public Security Rear Admiral (Retd.) Dr. Sarath Weerasekera said today that in addition to banning the burqa, the cabinet proposal would also include banning the niqab which covers the face of the wearer except the eyes. The...
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  • යුරෝපයේ රටවල් 8 කින් හිස්බුල්ලාට සහාය
    මානව හිමිකම් වෙනුවෙන් පෙනී සිටින ප්‍රමුඛ නීතිඥවරයකු වන හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මහතා වැනි මානව හිමිකම් ආරක්ෂා කරන්නන්ට ගරු කරන ලෙස ශ්‍රී ලංකා රජයෙන් ඉල්ලා සිටිමින් යුරෝපීය රටවල් අටක මානව හිමිකම් තානාපතිවරුන් ඒකාබද්ධ නිවේදනයක් නිකුත් කර තිබේ. නෙදර්ලන්තය, ජර්මනිය, එංගලන්තය ස්වීඩනය, එස්ටෝනියාව, ලිතුවේනියාව, ලක්සම්බර්ග් සහ ෆින්ලන්තය...
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  • Eight EU HR Ambassadors raise concern over Hejaaz Hizbullah
    In a statement issued today, Eight Human Rights  Ambassadors of Europe including the United Kingdom, Germany and Sweden called on the Sri Lankan government to " respect human rights defenders such as Hizbullah". The statement issued by the Ambassadors of the United Kingsdom, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Lithuania, Estonia and the Netherlands said that after ten months of Detention, Hejaaz Hizbullah was being accused of speech related offences. Prominent Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah was arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department on the 14th of April 2020. He was thereafter accused in the media of various activities related to terrorism. He was thereafter produced on the 18th of February 2021 where the Attorney General informed court that the entire case against Hizbullah was to be based on purported statements made by children. Hizbullah...
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  • Circular on burial of COVID-19 victims issued
    The circular containing the guidelines with regard to the burial of COVID-19 victims has been issued, the Health Ministry said. Some key guidelines are as follows, The relatives of the deceased should inform the Director/ Head of the health care institution (Where the death has occurred) of their desire to bury the corpse without delay. The Director of the hospital/ Head of the health care institution should obtain a written request from relatives for burial. The relatives need to provide a coffin in advance. It is the duty of the director/ Head of health care institution to transport the corpse in a coffin provided by the relatives to a designated location in Colombo Institute of Forensic Medicine and Toxicology (office of JMO) / BH Welikanda where the corpse will be received by the designated officer. The vehicle transporting the...
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  • Muslims to raise concerns over Iranaithivu burial with global bodies
    A leading Muslim organisation in Sri Lanka will this week send an official letter of concern to the global Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the World Muslim Congress, seeking their intervention to urge the Sri Lankan government to allocate a decent land for the burial of Muslim COVID-19 victims. The Daily Mirror learns that the Sri Lanka Islamic Centre, which is a member of the World Muslim Congress will raise serious concerns with the global bodies and will also send a letter to the World Muslim Congress office in Geneva urging for immediate intervention after the government announced that burials of the COVID-19 dead would take place on the Iranaithivu Island, in the Gulf of Mannar. Senior Muslim officials said they were disappointed at the government’s decision to allocate the Iranaithivu Isle for the burials and instead urged...
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  • Hizbullah and Madrasa School Principal further remanded
    Attorney-at-Law Hejaaz Hizbullah and Principal of Madrasa School Mohammed Shakeel were further remanded till March 18 by the Fort Magistrate’s Court today. They were earlier remanded under section 2 (1) (h) of the PTA and section 3(1) of the ICCPR Act.   http://www.dailymirror.lk/breaking_news/Hizbullah-and-Madrasa-School-Principal-further-remanded/108-206945 Please enable JavaScript to view the comments powered by Disqus.
    Read More...
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Politics Behind Muslim Burial

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Dr. Ameer Ali

No scientist or epidemiologist anywhere in the world has so far proved with solid evidence that corona virus would spread from buried corona-killed corpses. Only in Sri Lanka a so-called committee of health experts belonging to the establishment, expressed an opinion that because of high water level in the ground that virus has the potential to spread, if those died from it are buried. Hence, they recommended indiscriminate cremation hitting directly at religious sensitivity of Muslims. No amount of protest from local Muslims or from Muslim organizations abroad, and not even advice from WHO to the contrary could convince President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his government to relent. The President maintains that unless the experts committee shows the green light he will not budge. This is the strongest demonstration yet of the one-country-one-law mantra.

In the meantime, the Muslim Minister of Justice fails to see the injustice committed to his community, and the Mufti or the chief shepherd preaches his herd how to bury the ashes after cremation. If you cannot change them join them appears to be the preferred course of action to these leaders. The community on the other hand is not prepared to listen.

The whole episode has nothing to do with science and epidemiology but with politics. The opinion expressed by the experts committee was manna from heaven to Buddhist supremacists who, since 2009 and especially after the Easter Massacre of 2019, are bent on seeking revenge on Muslim community. These supremacists are a pillar of strength to the Rajapaksa regime. Their ideology of a hegemonic Buddhist Sri Lanka dominates the thinking and philosophy of the professionals in President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s Viyathmaga. It is that ideology which is the quintessence of today’s jathika chintanaya. Only a few days ago, when a rumour was spreading that the government was about to reconsider its decision to cremate Muslim bodies, an ageing Gunadasa Amarasekera, one of the architects of this ideology warned the government of relenting to Muslim demand. A couple of days ago Rev. Gnanasara in his usual anti-Muslim tone also reminded the law makers in the parliament of one-country-one-law.

There is no sign that the virus is going to disappear for at least another couple of years although its spread could be controlled through vaccination. Even then how cheaply and easily would Sri Lankans have access to that vaccine is unsure because of the country’s financial difficulties. Authorities are already opening the country for business, because Basil Rajapaksa feels that profit should not be allowed to suffer because of public health. Thus, based on pseudo-science and backed by jatika chintanaya cremation of Muslim bodies would continue under the pretext of an emergency. If the Mufti continues to preach his compromised solution of Islamically burying the ash, he could win the hearts and minds of the rulers but certainly not of his community.

The issue of cremating Muslim bodies and the proposed ban on cow slaughter are ideologically motivated and very soon one may expect Muslim personal laws also to fall under the ideology’s axe. It would be interesting how the Muslim Minister of justice would handle that issue when it comes before parliament. Meanwhile, the protagonists of this ideology would be watching closely at what their ‘predator’ friend China is doing to Uighur Muslims in Xinxiang. Leaked reports show how those Muslims are force fed with pig meat and their women shaved and the hair is used as raw material for manufacturing industrial products. Already the Chinese government has destroyed several mosques and Muslim burial places in the name of development. One could only hope that the situation in Sri Lanka would not descend to that barbaric level. Sri Lanka’s exceptionally successful management of multiculturalism before the colonial period was unique in the entire region of Asia.
However, what options do Muslims have to avoid further calamities? First of all, they should give up the idea that by going along with the ruling regime they could save their skin and survive peacefully under traumatic conditions. At the same time, there is no guarantee that they will have better prospects by joining the current opposition, because SJB and its parent UNP will also eventually fall prey to the current pernicious ideology to capture power. Therefore, Muslims and for that matter even Tamils should seek a third alternative. It should be an alternative that seeks to bring back democracy with all its innate qualities and preserve the country’s pluralist polity and culture. Thankfully, there is a significant cluster of saner and influential minds within the majority Sinhala Buddhists, including sections of the Sangha, who are wanting that to happen. It is the task of the Muslim intelligentsia to approach and join hands with them, introduce them to the community and work with them for a better Sri Lanka. It is not a change that is going to happen soon, but the foundations should be laid now for the future. The populist image of the current regime is bound to suffer in the face of looming economic disaster.

Muslim community is caught up in the current predicament because of its own ethnic politics. Both SLMC and ACMC should be dissolved forthwith and the community becomes part of a multi-ethnic, patriotic and democratic political party. If a ruling government is democratic, treats every community and citizen equally and protects the independence of judiciary, what does it matter whether Muslims and Tamils or for that matter even Sinhalese are represented in the legislature by their own men and women or by other community members? It is time to think afresh and outside the circle.

https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/politics-behind-muslim-burial/

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