Sunday, August 09, 2020
   
Text Size

Follow SLMuslims on


 

Latest News

  • Niqab Ban In France Violates Human Rights Of Muslim Women: UN Human Rights Committee
    The United Nations Human Rights Committee said France’s niqab ban violates the human rights of Muslim women and risks “confining them to their homes.” Women in France can be fined up to 150 euros for wearing the niqab, a full-face...
    Read More...
  • Rathana At It Again; ACJU Is The Punching Bag For Everyone
    By Mass L. Usuf Mass Usuf Let this column begin with a Disclaimer. It is only an analysis and the writer is not holding a brief to defend or protect the All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema (
    Read More...
  • Democracy Threatened: Impunity, Political Patronage & Rollback Of Devolution
    By S. Ratnajeevan H. Hoole – R. Sasilan: Assistant Commissioner of Elections Today we are opening new living quarters for our Election Commission’s man-in-charge in Batticaloa. I am so glad because R. Sasilan is a man I am proud of. He stands up for what is right without fear or favor. When a minister distributed gifts in elections some years ago, he confiscated a gift pack and filed a complaint with the police. The police, as often happens, disappeared the evidence. Sasilan sent a report to the Commission and that too disappeared....
    Read More...
  • Coronavirus funerals: Sri Lanka's Muslims decry forced cremation
      Image copyrightEPA Image captionSri Lankan Muslim women wait for a Covid-19 test. Some in the community are fighting cremation rules Sri Lankan authorities are insisting on cremation for coronavirus victims - a practice forbidden by Islam. The nation's minority Muslim community says they are using the pandemic to discriminate, writes BBC Sinhala's Saroj Pathirana. On 4 May, Fathima Rinoza, a 44-year-old mother of three from Sri Lanka's minority Muslim population, was admitted to hospital with a suspected case of Covid-19. Fathima, who lived in the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, had been suffering from respiratory problems and the authorities feared she had caught the virus. On the day she was admitted to hospital, the family was "set upon" by the authorities, her husband Mohamed Shafeek said. "The police and military along with...
    Read More...
  • ජිනීවා මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී රටවල් 5කින් ලංකාවට චෝදනා
    පාස්කු ප්‍රහාර සම්බන්ධයෙන් සැකපිට අත්අඩංගුවට ගෙන සිටින නීතිඥ හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා රඳවා තබාගැනීම, විශේෂ බළකායේ සැරයන් සුනිල් රත්නායකට ජනාධිපති සමාව ලබාදීම ඇතුළු කරුණු ගණනාවක් පදනම් කරගනිමින් එක්සත් රාජධානිය ඇතුළු රටවල් 5ක කණ්ඩායමක් එක්සත් ජාතීන්ගේ මානව හිමිකම් කවුන්සිලයේදී ශ්‍රී ලංකාවට චෝදනා එල්ල කර ඇතැයි ජිනීවා තානාපති...
    Read More...
  • මුස්ලිම් නීතිඥයාට එරෙහිව 'ත්‍රස්ත සාක්කි' ගෙතූ රහස් පොලිසියට විනිසුරු විරෝධය

      පාස්කු බෝම්බ ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ යැයි ජනමාධ්‍ය මගින් ප්‍රචාරය කරමින් ත්‍රස්තවාදය වැළැක්වීමේ පනත යටතේ අත්අඩංගුවට ගනු ලැබු මුස්ලිම් ජාතික නීතිඥවරයකුට එරෙහිව ව්‍යාජ සාක්ෂි ගෙතීමට රහස් පොලිසිය විසින් දරණ ලද උත්සාහයක් විනිසුරුවරයකුගේ මැදිහත්වීම නිසා ව්‍යර්ථ වී තිබේ.

    නීතිඥ හිජාස් ඕමර් හිස්බුල්ලාහ් රඳවා...
    Read More...
  • Gnanasara Thero Once Again Inciting Sinhalese Against Muslims
    Malicious campaign pushing discriminated and frustrated Muslims to wall Few weeks ago Ven Galagoda Atte Gnanasara Thero, known for inciting Sinhalese and unleashing violence against Muslims, said he would dissolve his organisation Bodu Bala Sena as it has achieved its target of setting up a Sinhala Buddhist government without minority support. Latheef Farook Following the election of the present government to power on 15 November 2019, he was rather quiet. Now that the parliamentary election is forthcoming, he has started his campaign once again pitting the Sinhalese against Muslims.There were reports that during the presidential elections in November 2019 Buddhist monks and temples were used to demonize Muslims to win Sinhala votes assuring security. As part of this campaign to win Sinhala votes, he attempted to brand as extremist, several...
    Read More...
  • Hejaaz: A lawyer for all seasons

    A year has passed since the deadly Easter Sunday attacks in Sri Lanka. Victims, survivors, and the general public still await answers. Amidst these desperate demands for accountability, Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent Muslim lawyer, is suddenly – and most unexpectedly – arrested and detained.

    I met Hejaaz during the first-ever debating tournament I participated in. He led the team from S. Thomas’ College, Mount Lavinia, and I represented St. Joseph’s College, Colombo. Our teams made it to the finals that year. I recall Hejaaz as a fierce competitor with the rare gift for conveying an argument with charisma and conviction. He also had a great sense of humour, taking friendly banter in good spirit. The Thomians triumphed that year, and deservedly so.

    What strikes me now is...
    Read More...
  • Muslim writer in jail for 60 days without "explicit evidence"
    A group of activists in Sri Lanka has called upon the government for the unconditional release of a Muslim writer who has been held in detention for more than
    sixty days without “explicit evidence being produced”.

    In a letter to the Human Rights Commission of Sri Lanka (HRCSL) the Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim activists say that Ramzy Razeek arrested on April 09 for allegedly violating the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and Cyber Crimes Legislation has also been denied medical treatment and legal access in detention.

    “Despite orders from the Magistrate to allow him access to medicine, reliable sources state that his health condition is deteriorating due to lack of access to specific medicines of which he is in dire need. A lawyer attempting to visit Razeek this week, was also denied...
    Read More...
  • அடையாள அணிவகுப்புக்கு முன் ஹிஜாஸின் அடையாளத்தைக் காட்ட சிஐடியினர் முயற்சித்தார்கள்
    இரு சிறுவர்களிடமிருந்தும் வாக்குமூலம் பெறுவதற்கு முன்னர் சிஐடியினர் தனது அறையில் வைத்து ஹிஜாஸ் ஹிஸ்புல்லாஹ்வின் புகைப்படத்தை அவர்களுக்குக் காண்பிப்பதற்கு முயற்சித்தார்கள் என கோட்டை நீதவான் ரங்க திசாநாயக்க தெரிவித்துள்ளார்.

    புத்தளம் மத்ரஸாவொன்றின் மாணவர்களுக்கு தீவிரவாதத்தைப் போதித்தார் என சிஐடியினர்...
    Read More...
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9

The Roots of Communal Politics

Latest

User Rating: / 12
PoorBest 
E-mailPrint
The emergence of the Bodu Bala Sena and its continuing militant, anti-Muslim political activism has irritated many liberally-minded people. Some of those who are agitated have responded by proposing simplistic solutions to contain the movement such as banning it. Like many other such groups, BBS also did not emerge from nowhere; it has its social and political roots. It is necessary to understand these roots to find a satisfactory resolution of the deeper issues involved.

As is well known, in spite of the efforts of the leftist and liberally-oriented parties to promote class or citizenship-based politics in the country even before the country gained political independence from the British, communal politics emerged as the dominant form of politics in post-independent Sri Lanka.

As many analysts including the present writer have pointed out on many occasions, the result was that the post-colonial public policies with respect to language, education, land settlement and employment have further reinforced rather than marginalized communal politics in the country. The ethnic and religious conflicts that emerged after independence further solidified ethnic consciousness and ethnic divisions. Consequently, competition for resources in a context of rapid population growth and rising aspirations of the masses for a higher standard of living was perceived by many as a zero sum game involving ethno-religious communities. This competition became even more intense after economic liberalization. This became evident during the 1983 ethnic riots, when racist groups openly participated in the violent campaign.


The thirty-year war that devastated the country and a large section of the population does not seem to have taught the leaders of the country a lesson



Increasing economic pressure after economic liberalization compelled most people to look for more lucrative income opportunities through a highly competitive process. In spite of the adoption of market friendly, liberal economic policies and the rise of the market forces, the post-1977 Sri Lankan state continued to play a dominant role in land alienation, resettlement, provision of education, employment of educated youth and infrastructure development. Leading ruling party politicians continued to allocate public resources largely on the basis of political loyalty and personal connections. Given the dominance of the majority ethnic community in government, the general perception was that much of the resources flowed into the hands of this ethnic group, though minority community members of the government could also follow the same practice to favour their own communities.

Persisting communal politics coupled with the continued reinforcement of the ethnic consciousness of the wider population, including many members of the elites, by educational institutions and the mass media led to a widely held public perception that it is ethnic groups that compete with each other for life chances, not individual citizens on the basis of their personal attributes and their relative social class position.

As I have pointed out in a number of articles in this column, ethno-linguistic segregation of the education system over many decades, even in so-called elite government schools in Colombo and other major towns have continued to facilitate the formation of exclusive, ethno-religious identities even among upwardly mobile members of ethnic groups. So, it is not just the underprivileged, monolingual members of ethnic groups who are sympathetic to ethno-religious extremism but also the more privileged people who have had their education in segregated schools where they had no opportunity to interact with children from other ethnic and religious communities and get acquainted with their cultures and social practices.

The prevailing cultural differences and the social distance between ethno-religious groups often facilitate the formation of settlements segregated on the basis of ethnicity and religion. So, even in the ethnically mixed regions of the country, we have exclusive Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim villages and there are not many villages where people belonging to different ethno-religious groups share the same space. Such a settlement pattern, though it does not necessarily lead to conflict, does not facilitate social interaction across communities. Community based organizations functioning at a village level also often remain confined to their respective villages without having many opportunities to work together and transcend long established boundaries.

So, in an increasingly competitive socio-economic environment, segregated ethno-religious groups tend to perceive one another as being engaged in a zero sum game when it comes to securing resources such as land, employment and business opportunities. Recent controversies at a national level over admissions to the law college, settlement of people in the Wilpattu national forest reserve in the North-West, Halal certification of manufactured food, etc. clearly point to this perception. Then, there are literally thousands of such disputes at a local level in almost all parts of the country. The latter often do not come to the attention of the national media.
Allocation of public resources and resolution of disputes between contending groups cannot be done in an amicable manner in a country where the state and the public institutions appear to fail to treat citizens equally on the basis of their inalienable rights. Rational public policies and independent state institutions are critically important here. When the allocation of public resources does not appear to be guided by rational public policies and handled by independent institutions and public officials, and when it is increasingly perceived by people as a process which is micro-managed by numerous, sectarian politicians at all levels, extremist groups can easily arouse communal sentiments among ethnically conscious people across communities. This is what is happening today with the BBS.


The prevailing cultural differences and the social distance between ethno-religious groups often facilitate the formation of settlements segregated on the basis of ethnicity and religion


This is not the first time that communal politics derailed rational public policies and undermined public institutions. Well-conceived Kannangara-education reforms were subverted by communalists in the recent past with disastrous results. The monolingual, segregated education system that came into being as a result has continued to divide the younger generations into rival ethnic camps engaged in violent communal campaigns themselves, to divide up not just public resources but the country itself. The thirty-year war that devastated the country and a large section of the population does not seem to have taught the leaders of the country a lesson. If so, they would strive to move away from communal politics and take steps to adopt rational public policies and empower public institutions to ensure that public servants manage public institutions in keeping with the rules, regulations and state policies rather than take a backseat, virtually allowing politicians to take their place. Given the long established tradition of patron-client politics, deep ethnic divisions and widespread political corruption, most politicians will not be considered by the general public as impartial actors in the public domain. The situation appears to have got worse in recent years when national politics became more communal and sectarian, not less.

So, in conclusion, what is argued here is that there are no short cuts to resolving inter-community disputes when social and cultural institutions like education and the media continue to reinforce ethno-religious divisions in society and promote the public perception that it is ethno-religious groups that compete with each other for life chances, not individual citizens and classes on the basis of merit, need and socio-economic standing.

Then, we are asking for politicians to move into a new kind of politics, either of a social democratic or at least of a liberal variety.
http://www.dailymirror.lk/opinion/172-opinion/46690-the-roots-of-communal-politics-.html

Login Form