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Religious tolerance under scrutiny in Sri Lanka

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Vol - XLVII No. 22, June 02, 2012 | Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri

Nirmal Ranjith Dewarsiri is with the department of history, University of Colombo.

The recent attack led by Buddhist monks on the Khairya Jumma mosque located in the so-called “sacred zone” of the Dambulla rock temple in the central province is important even though it did not develop into a larger scale clash between the Buddhist and Muslim communities of Sri Lanka. The Dambulla Khairya Jummah mosque had been in existence for over 60 years and the mosque trustees have legal documents regarding its construction. On Friday the 20th of April 2012 a tense situation arose as regular Friday prayer at the mosque was prevented by a gang led by Buddhist monks who claimed that it was an illegal construction built on sacred Buddhist ground.

Many view this incident as an isolated event led by a group of extremists; an event which was easily quelled as it did not represent the sentiments of the majority Buddhist populace. Although this may be true, this line of thinking conceals some of the realities of the inter-religious relations in Sri Lanka within which the Dambulla incident could be located. In this short piece, I attempt to highlight existing problems in the religious setting in the Sinhala-Buddhist south of Sri Lanka giving special attention to the Dambulla incident.

 

Israeli presence in Colombo

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Bound to aggravate communal tension?

By Latheef Farook

“Israel’s foreign policy is that the national interest of Israel is the ultimate test and that the Israelis pursue this with cold blooded calculation” - late eminent journalist Mervyn De Silva.

The Zionist Jewish entity of Israel which has been sneaking into Sri Lanka time and again only to have been expelled, found a firm foothold in Colombo now. The island’s growing ties with Israel have become cause for serious concern among many especially within the beleaguered Muslim community which fears that this may spell disaster for them.

This fear emanates from Israel’s long record of hostility towards Muslims and its crucial role in the United States led western global campaign against Muslims under the guise of fighting a so called war on terrorism. It becomes still worse because a small minority of nationalists who, openly call for the expulsion of Tamils and Muslims from the island, are now in influential positions while Muslims parliamentarian remain subdued and ineffective.

 

Beyond Dambulla mosque Attack - Part 2

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Dr Sulaiman Rifai, Naleemi

Today one in every six person is a Muslim. Out of approximately 6 billion people one billion or little bit more people are Muslims in the world. It is a universal duty and responsibility of International Muslim community to reach out to these 5 billion Non-Muslim people with the compassionate message of Islam.  Religion of Islam is not a monopoly of certain race or ethnicity rather it is a universal religion for humanity. Indeed, Islam is the culmination of monotheistic faith of all prophets on the earth. From the very first prophet Adam to the last Prophet Muhammad all prophets of God came with same message of Islam: literally to demand people to submit to the will of God. This universality of Islamic message is very clearly articulated and elaborated in the Holy Quran and Prophetic traditions and therefore, reaching out with the message of Islam should be number one priority of collective responsibility of international Muslim community.

   

[Protest in Dehiwala] Buddhists monks and villages protest

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By Azra Ameen

Buddhist monks took to the streets yesterday again demanding the demolition of yet another Muslim community building in Colombo, claiming it was illegal.

Over 250 protestors led by Buddhist monks staged a demonstration yesterday in front of Galvihara Road, Dehiwala, calling for the demolition of the Madarasa ‘Darul- Qur’an lil Baranil Iman.

The protestors charged it is an illegal construction and a place where goats are scarified.

The Police was immediately deployed to avoid any clashes.

One of the monks leading the protest claimed the Madarasa should be demolished as the Muslims had constructed it illegally; a claim many Muslims in the area are disputing.

 

Reply to Dr Ameer Ali’s biased criticism of Islamism in Srilanka.

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The primary purpose of this short review of Dr Ameer Ali’s subjective article (titled POINT OF VIEW: An aggressive brand of state religion vs. others) in Lakbima News paper (20/05/12) - which was also republished here - is to clarify some misperceptions about basic teaching of Islam. It is unfortunate today that many Muslim and Non-Muslim academics with their western educational training write about Islam and Muslim communities subjectively without proper Islamic educational background and trainings. These so called academics in Muslim names have learned about Islamic teachings and doctrines through the writings of western anti-Islamic scholarship. Consequently, these people’s writings and mentality reflect bias western prejudice against pure Islamic teachings and spiritual development of Muslim community. These people see Islam and its teaching through mere materialistic and secularist perception and consequently Islamic revivalism and activism is seen as a threat for their materialistic philosophy of life.

   

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