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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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Wake up call from Dambulla to Sinhalese and Muslims alike

By Latheef Farook

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To mainstream Sinhalese; Save the Sinhalese and the country from chauvinists.

To Muslim politicians and theologians; Don’t sell the community. You are under watch.


Muslims’ peaceful response to Dambulla Mosque vandalism

Best hope for the country battered by ethnic conflict

By Latheef Farook

Muslim community’s overall response to vandalism at the Dambulla mosque by a mob led by Ven Inamaluwa Sumangala Thero on Friday 20 April 2012 has been “calm and dignified”. In one voice their message to the mainstream peace loving Sinhalese was “restore communal harmony”.

As a mark of protest, Muslims closed their shops throughout the east, Puttalam and other places on 26 Thursday and 27 Friday April 2012.They demonstrated after Friday Juma prayers not to resort to violence, instead to insist on communal harmony. The entire community prayed individually at homes and collectively at masjids while men and women throughout the island observed fasting.

Muslim organizations issued statements emphasizing the need to save the country from elements hell bent on causing disharmony between Sinhalese and Muslims for political gains. Muslims did not  even  respond to denigration of their community by the mob leader   as  they knew  that this vandalism was not the work of  Dambulla Sinhalese  or the mainstream Sinhalese community, as proved later, but by  people, willingly or unwillingly, brought from outside   to rouse communal discord.

Throughout the country no Muslim ever spoke a word hurting the feelings of anyone,   nor did they criticize the Prime Minister D.M.Jayaratne for rewarding hooliganism when he ordered within 24 hours, on 21 April 2012, to demolish the mosque .Of course Muslims were deeply shocked and hurt at the false statement by the Prime Minister’s office stating that the decision to demolish the mosque was taken at a meeting the prime minister had with Muslim ministers. However, as expected, some sections of the community demanded the prime minister’s resignation.

Muslims also informed their friends and others abroad  that this is not a  Sinhala –Muslim problem but an issue precipitated by some racist elements that were  carrying out a vicious campaign against the island’s Muslim community ever since the government’s military victory over  the LTTE.

Though deeply frustrated, Muslims did not turn to anyone to form alliance. However the authorities, all Sinhalese, decided the fate of the mosque at a meeting without the presence of a single Muslim.

Under such circumstances, what better message that the country emerging from its almost three decades of ethnic carnage could expect from the island’s Muslim community than this? What better sincere contribution the aggrieved and beleaguered Muslims could make to the island’s future?

Isn’t it time that the government and the large majority of responsible elements in the mainstream Sinhalese community respond to this peaceful overtures especially at a time when the communities remain divided and rescue this country from religious extremism and chauvinism.

In this respect the Muslim community appreciates with gratitude the unbiased attitude of Lands Minister Janaka  Bandara Tennekoon as a sign of hope.

Muslims from all walks of life held peaceful demonstrations defying a call by All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (Council of Muslim Theologians) not to do so, to highlight their resentment at this extremely dangerous provocation. Main demonstrations were held opposite Devatagaha Mosque near Town Hall. There were other such demonstrations outside the capital including Puttalam.

Justifying their decision to hold peaceful demonstrations many asked “how come the Jamiyyathul Ulema which called Muslims island wide in their sermons to participate in demonstration to condemn the UNHRC resolution against Sri Lanka in Geneva only a month ago now ask us not to demonstrate to protest against vandalism at Dambulla Mosque.

The irony is that Dambulla mosque vandalism has split the Jamiyyathul Ulama at a time when Muslims need to be united to face challenge. A splinter group which was of the opinion that Jamiyyathul Ulama should not have sent a team to Geneva and got involved in politics formed a splinter group causing considerable concern within the helpless community abandoned by all alike. They also accused Jamiyyathul Ulama of doing the sordid bidding of the government.

However, whoever is responsible, division within theologians is a disaster at this critical juncture to helpless Muslims suffering from political and religious leaderships besides poverty and illiteracy.

Several leading non Muslims too participated in the demonstrations near Dewatagaha last Friday. Prominent among them were Peratugami Samajawadhi party M P Ajith Kumara, Western Democratic Party Mano Ganeshan and leader of Samjawadhi Peramuna, Wickremabahu Karunaratne .They not only attended but also accused racist elements within the government   of creating communal disharmony and defended religious rights of all communities.

However what is more prominent, to the shock of the entire Muslim community, was the complete boycott of these peaceful demonstrations by Muslim parliamentarians.

No Muslim politician except Western provincial council member Mujibur Rahman        participated in the demonstration.

However, Muslims were not surprised over the absence of their politicians. One participant said” I expected all Muslim parliamentarians to resign the moment I saw the mosque being vandalized under the watchful eyes of police and the army. It has not happened. Perhaps their positions, power and perks are more important to Muslim parliamentarians than   defending the mosque or religious freedom of the Muslim community. These are the self seeking politician we have in the Muslim community”.

The Dambulla mosque issue cropped up at a time when the Muslim politicians’ popularity was at its lowest ebb in view of their failure to attend to burning issues of people. In fact the Muslim community has lost all confidence and respect for their parliamentarians who have become liabilities than assets.

Muslim politicians individually and collectively negotiated deals and joined the government have failed to raise these issues fearing they would antagonize the rulers. In the east, for example, Muslims have been passing through a very difficult time since the defeat of LTTE in May 2009 due to acquisition of lands which they claim belong to them, colonization of Sinhalese brought from outside and lands  grabbed by the LTTE still being occupied by Tamils besides many  other such issues.

However, the mood of the community following the attack on the Dambulla mosque dragged Muslim politicians together .Repeated statements by Sri Lanka Muslim Congress General Secretary Hassan Ali rejecting the move to shift the mosque lifted the morale of the community. This was further reiterated by senior Sri Lankan Freedom Party politician  Alavi Moulana threatening to resign   as governor of Western Province if the mosque is shifted or demolished highlighted the gravity of the situation.

However the community was enraged at the Deputy Minister Hezbollah who, perhaps to please the government and ensure his job, said the Dambulla mosque, though damaged and vandalized, was not damaged. Adding insult to injury his clownish appearance in the presence of the mob leader was described as absolute disgrace to the community.

The unfortunate message from Dambulla vandalism is that chauvinists who turned the country into a killing field never learnt any lesson despite what the country suffered.

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