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Extremists out to deepen schisms

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Qadijah Irshad (Colombo Courier) / 11 May 2012

Almost three weeks after the vandalisation of a mosque in the Dambulla district by a 2,000 odd mob led by some Buddhist clergy, a Buddhist organisation called the Buddhist Protection Foundation held a protest march and a campaign on Monday 
in Kalutara demanding 
the removal of the in Dambulla.

Addressing media, the Executive Director of the Foundation Priest Puliyadde Sudhamma Thero said that the protest was just “a beginning of a series of protests against the Muslim mosque in Dambulla.”

The Dambulla mosque issue raises the ugly question of Buddhist chauvinism in the country. Viewing the incident in a larger context, one would identify the Dambulla fiasco as more than a Muslim issue.  It has consequences for all the communities — the Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim. It also has impact on Sri Lanka’s attempt at reconcilliation among communities after the war.

On April 20, a mosque located opposite a Buddhist temple in Dambulla came under attack by a mob of Buddhist clergy and laymen, who demanded that the mosque be removed from ‘designated sacred area.’ Following the incident, Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne, who is also the Minister for Religious Affairs, declared that a decision had been made in consultation with several Muslim ministers that the mosque will be removed, and an alternative land would be given for the rebuilding of the mosque.

A chagrined senior minister A. H. M. Fowzie denied that anyone from the Muslim community was consulted in the decision-making. Minister Rauf Hakeem, leader of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), which has been a strong ally of the ruling government, vehemently opposed the decision.

The manner in which the situation was handled by the government has hardened Muslim sentiments. With the matter currently resting with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, the Muslim leadership is hoping that a fair decision would be made.

Rajapaksa has often been accused of endorsing Sinhala chauvinism. If he decides the mosque should stand where it has stood for more than 60 years, he would be inviting the wrath of extremist Buddhists. If he decides mosque should be moved, he would lose the already waning trust of the minority community.

For centuries in Sri Lanka, multi ethnic-multi religious communities have lived in harmony, with Buddhist and Hindu temples, churches and mosques residing in close proximity.

Contrary to the teachings of tolerance and peace in Buddhism, the schism between communities has been created by a racist Buddhist minority.

It is also the intention of these extremists to sow the Sinhalese ‘hosts’ versus all other minority ‘guests’ theory. According to this, live-per-our-rules-or-get-out theory, all minority groups, are considered as merely ‘guests’ of the country with no rights of their own.

Courtesy: KhaleejTimes.com

 

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