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  • Why Sri Lanka jailed a Muslim lawyer without charge for 6 months
                                      The Geneva-based International Commission of Jurists, the EU and UN Human Rights Core Group on Sri Lanka have expressed their concerns on the arbitrary arrest and detention of Hizbullah [Photo courtesy: Family] Why Sri Lanka jailed a Muslim lawyer without charge for 6 months Rights groups and members of civil society have raised concerns over the continued incarceration of a Muslim lawyer in Sri Lanka, adding that his prolonged detention “had a chilling effect on anyone involved in peaceful dissent and advocacy”.

    Hejaaz Hizbullah, a prominent human rights lawyer, was arrested on “terrorism” charges in April and has remained in detention...
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  • Hejaaz Hizbullah case: CID misled public and Cardinal, says Counsel
    When the case of the arrest of Hejaaz Hizbullah was taken up yesterday, the Counsel alleged that the Criminal Investigations Department had misled the Cardinal and the public with regard to Hizbullah.

    “They lied to His Eminence the Cardinal and the public. The real culprits were never caught and they have instead found a scapegoat in Hejaaz,” the Counsel said.

    The CID submitting a report said that they were awaiting a Government Analyst report on three phones used by Hizbullah.

    “This is how they lied throughout. They said the investigations were to be completed and a Deputy Solicitor General of the Attorney General’s Department said it would be by 16 September. The CID lied to the Attorney General’s Department as well and is now seeking further time.”

    The CID said that transactions of...
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  • Sri Lanka has locked up this Muslim lawyer without charge for nearly five months
    The prominent Sri Lankan Muslim lawyer, Hejaaz Hizbullah, is being described by human rights groups as the latest victim of Sri Lanka’s draconian Prevention of Terrorism Act.

    On April 14, Hizbullah, 40, got a call from the Ministry of Health saying they were worried he may have contracted COVID-19 and advised him to remain at home.

    A day earlier he and others had written to the Sri Lankan president about his government’s decision to ban Muslims from burying their dead, forcing them to cremate their remains instead – a violation of their right to freedom of religion, as protected by Sri Lanka’s constitution and its international obligations.

    Hejaaz Hizbullah was a lawyer at the Supreme Court and worked as a state counsel for the Attorney General’s department. Beyond his legal work, he was involved...
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  • “කවදා හෝ යුක්තිය ඉටුවේයැ’යි බලාපොරොත්තු සහගතව ජීවිතය ගෙවනවා විනා වෙන කිසිවක් කළ නොහැකි වීම ගැන මට ඇත්තේ නොදැරිය හැකි වේදනාවකි”: මගේ මල්ලි හිජාස්
    හිජාස් හිස්බුල්ලා මගේ බාල සොහොයුරා ය. අගෝස්තු 25 වැනි දිනට එළඹුණු ඔහුගේ 40 වැනි උපන්දිනය ඔහුට ගත කිරීමට සිදු වුයේ පාස්කු ඉරිදා ත්‍රස්තවාදී ප්‍රහාරයට සම්බන්ධ බවට අභූත චෝදනා එල්ල කරමින් අයුතු ලෙස අත්තඩංගුවට පත්ව අපරාධ පරීක්ෂණ දෙපාර්තමේන්තුවේ රැඳවුම් භාරයේදී ය. හිජාස් පිළිබඳව මට ඇති පැරණිතම මතකයන් අතර බොහොමයක් කළුබෝවිල සිට...
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  • Hejaaz Detention: Fort Magistrate Orders CID To Submit All Statements Obtained In Investigations


    Following submissions by Defence Counsel that the Criminal Investigations Department is selectively reporting facts to the Magistrate in order to malign Hejaaz Hizbullah, Fort Magistrate today ordered the Criminal Investigations Department to submit a report of all statements obtained by them from persons relating to the investigations of Hizbullah.
    When the case was taken up today. Counsel for the Defence informed Court that the Criminal Investigations Department had obtained statements from all persons of the Save the Pearls Charity and the Teachers and Board of Management of the Al-Zuhriya Madarasa.

    However, none of those statements had been produced to date.
    They said that the statements would reveal that all the allegations made by the CID are a fabrication and were made in order to malign Hizbullah and...
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  • Hejaaz Hizbullah: Symptom and symbol
    What made him more enigmatic was that unlike most others in his profession who shield their lives beneath a calm facade, he taught exceptionally well Apparently he called the Easter attackers “fools who died as fools.” I can picture Hejaaz saying that   There’s an image of Hejaaz Hizbullah I return to over and over again. It’s an image of him holding a placard at a protest in 2018. The placard reads, “Asilachaara parliamenthuwak wenuwata seelachara parliamenthuwak” (“A cultured parliament in place of an uncultured parliament”). The reason why it resonates with me is that, even in the ecstatic way he holds it, he is quite unlike the Hejaaz Hizbullah I once knew. But then I realise that the Hejaaz I once knew couldn’t have been the real guy. 
    I first encountered the man in 2013 at my law school. He didn’t...
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  • 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...
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Intelligence: Is it in the brain or the heart?

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By Mohamed Ghilan

Contrary to what we know now, the “organ of intellect” was not always known to be the brain. In fact, before the matter was settled, there were two competing views regarding where the intellect is in the body: the brain or the heart. The most famous of those on one side was Aristotle who was pushing for a cardiocentric (heart-centered) model, which argued that the heart is in fact the organ of intelligence (Frampton, 1991). In his observations, Aristotle noticed that poking the brain of an injured person did not induce pain. He therefore reasoned that the brain is not engaged in perception of any kind. Had he known about pain receptors, I’m sure he would’ve done a few more tests.

In addition, Aristotle noticed that the body grows cold when the heart stops beating, which led him to assume that the heart produces the body’s heat. To protect the heart from overheating, Aristotle assigned the function of cooling the unremitting heart to the brain. Furthermore, by Aristotle’s time it was known that human voice is supplied by air exhaled from the lungs. Hence, he reasoned that the heart supplies words and they come out together with voice as they roll out of the chest cavity.

The cardiocentric model of Aristotle’s went against the encephalocentric (brain-centered) model of his teacher,Plato, who said that the “eyes, ears, tongue, hands, and feet act in accordance with the discernment of the brain”. Although Aristotle’s cardiocentric model survived well into the Middle Ages, it eventually gave way to the encephalocentric model when Galen (the father of experimental physiology) showed experimentally the vital role of the brain. For example, cutting through the medulla, which is right above the spinal cord in the brain, can stop respiration. Those words coming from the chest as proposed by Aristotle were shown by Galen to require an intact brain to be able to be produced (Wilson, 2003).

This cardiocentric vs. encephalocentric historical narrative is how it is typically presented in the first chapter of a typical college neuroscience textbook. The professor will discuss this matter in class in a way that usually elicits a few laughs and raised eyebrows from the students as they wonder how ridiculous Aristotle was to think that the heart was the organ of intelligence and how silly his reasons for pushing a cardiocentric model were. What’s more surprising is how powerful Aristotle’s influence was, given that medical students were taught until the 16th century that nerves, like all veins and arteries, originate from the heart.

After everyone has their laugh at poor old Aristotle, the lecture will proceed to build upon the encephalocentric model and address different models of brain function and how the brain is studied. The heart will be relegated to the human physiology class and discarded as just a muscle pump that gets the blood everywhere in the body, never to be considered again as having anything to do with the mind.

Surprisingly, Aristotle may not have been completely wrong in his belief that the heart is an organ of intelligence. While it most certainly is true that  the brain is the major relay center for cognitive function, it seems that the heart is not just a muscle pump, as many believe it to be.

Your heart has its own nervous system that is composed of approximately 40,000 neurons. These neurons are connected differently and more elaborately than elsewhere in the body and while they’re capable of detecting circulating chemicals sent from the brain and other organs, they operate independently in their own right. Having it’s own “mini-brain” is the reason why heart transplants work, given the fact that severed nerve connections do not reconnect in a different body. Furthermore, this elaborate nervous centre in the heart has more functions than simply regulating the electrical activities of the heart to keep it pumping.

Dr. J. Andrew Armour is a neurocardiologist that has shown some fascinating facts about the heart’s nervous system. You can review his book “Neurocardiology: Anatomical & Functional Principles” if you’re interested in the technical details. For example, while the heart can be influenced by messages sent from the brain, it doesn’t necessarily obey it all the time. Furthermore, the heart’s “mini-brain” can send its own signals to the brain and exercise its influence on it. To give one illustration: oxytocin, which is typically referred to as the “love hormone”, has been shown to be released not only from the brain, but also from the heart. Oxytocin is not only important for love and bonding, especially for pregnant and lactating mothers, but it also has roles in social behavior, wound healing, learning, memory, and empathy. In short, it’s one hormone that affects a very wide variety of important functions.

Now it’s time to hold on to your seat and try not to fall over, because if you thought these facts about the heart are surprising, the following will probably make your eyebrows fly off your face.

It’s generally assumed that learning and memory are a central nervous system function. Meaning, this is a function for that organ inside our heads. However, due to some bizarre, controversial and anomalous observations, there is a growing push towards a systemic memory mechanism. In other words, not to limit intelligence functions to the brain. This came from observations in organ transplant patients – more specifically, heart-transplant recipients.

In a study from 2002, researchers from the University of Arizona and University of Hawaii collaborated to publish a paper titled “Changes in Heart Transplant Recipients that Parallel the Personalities of their Donors”. Ten recipients who received heart or heart-lung transplants underwent evaluation through a series of open-ended interviews. These interviews involved the transplant recipients, recipient families or friends, and donor families or friends, in hospitals in various parts of the US. Several parallels were being investigated including, changes in food, music, art, sexual, recreational, and career preferences, as well as specific instances of perceptions of names and sensory experiences related to the donors.

The interview transcripts are beyond astounding to read. There was a case of a straight vegetarian health-consious donor that turned a militant gay McDonalds-loving recipient into a straight vegetarian health food seeking person after the transplant. Another case was of a young donor who was a violin musician that made the older classical-music-hating recipient all of a sudden want to listen to hours of it after surgery. A third case was of a young woman who was a “hell-raiser” all of a sudden picking up her donor’s love for music and poetry. She was even able to finish the words to his songs, which she never heard before. A funny one was the 47-year-old man receiving the heart of a 14-year-old girl injured in a gymnastics accident. His wife commented at how he changed after surgery, “Gus is a teenager. No doubt about that. He’s a kid – or at least he thinks he’s a kid. Even when we’re bowling, he yells and jumps around like a fool. He’s got this weird laugh now. It’s a girl’s laugh and we tell him that. He doesn’t care.”

This study is only an example of many others. Overall, the researchers here found that on average, the recipients picked up two to five parallels per case from the ones they investigated. This is a very high transfer of personality traits that immunosuppressant drugs, stress of surgery, and statistical coincidence cannot explain.

All of us at one point or another have experienced situations where we mentally worked it out, and despite the calculations that show it to be a good thing to be involved in, something was off and it just didn’t feel right. Most of the time we realize that our “strange feelings” feeling, or “gut-instinct” was confirmed.

The human body is much more mysterious than reductionist science would like us to believe. While Aristotle’s cardiocentric view lost the battle, it hasn’t necessarily lost the war. Despite the importance of the brain, the heart seems to be serving as an organ of intelligence in its own right. There is an interesting difference in definition that seems appropriate to point out here. Intelligence is defined as the capacity for learning, reasoning, understanding, and having the aptitude in grasping truths and meanings. It comes from the Latin meaning “faculty of understanding, comprehension, and discerning”. Cognition on the other hand is the act or process of knowing and perception, and it comes from the Latin meaning, “a getting to know; acquaintance; and knowledge”. The definition implies that intelligence is a higher faculty than cognition, and the question that poses itself in turn becomes:

Is the heart our organ of intelligence, while the brain is our organ of cognition?

Courtesy: Mohamed Ghilan

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