A point made in passing in the previous Post deserves elaboration if only to emphasize it’s critical importance at the present moment in time.
After the advent of the new Government on the 8th of January 2015, the SL Muslims have begun to once again feel safe from the threats of verbal assaults and risks to life and limb posed by the anti-Muslims groups. But what many members of the Muslim Community may not have realized is that the hairline cracks that appeared gradually in Buddhist – Muslim relations during the past 3 – 4 decades have widened considerably in the period 2012 – 2014 when these anti-Muslim groups were at the peak of their agitations. Although the situation appears ‘peaceful’ at the moment, it is an extremely fragile, highly volatile ‘peace’. For instance, events unfolding at the Wilpattu Sanctuary have once again placed the Muslims in the spotlight of public anger, demonstrating clearly that the SL Muslims have a long way to go before they can all hold hands and sing ‘Kumbaya’.
Cracks that appear on a brick wall can be papered over quite easily. The application of a sealer and a thick coat of wall paint and voila ! – no cracks. But cracks in human relationships, based as they are on emotions, are not so easily papered over. A handshake may enable relationships to continue, but the negative emotions – anger, fear, apprehension, etc, will continue to fester beneath the surface unless and until they are specifically addressed and neutralized.
The Muslims are a minority in Sri Lanka. It is therefore critical that the Muslim Community take the initiative to commence the process that would ensure that their members and their future generations can continue to live with self-respect and dignity in our Motherland without fear of physical harm or mental trauma by virtue of being followers of Islam. The time to act is now. The members of Muslim Civil Society must take the lead in this matter rather than waiting for the Majority Community or our Politicians or Theologians do start doing something in this regard. It is in our interest to do so. It is only by doing so that we can not only demonstrate that the Muslim Community has a genuine and sincere desire to contribute towards the building of ethnic harmony and national re-conciliation in Sri Lanka but also lay claim to being equal Stake-holders of the process.
To delay the process of providing the necessary leadership or to avoid doing so will only create a vacuum which will be filled by pseudo-leaders whose motives may not be in the interest of the Ummah at large. Even today (30th May 2015) there is a blog post drawing the attention of the Public to the growing use of Tamil social media by Muslims to make acrimonious and vitriolic comments about the treatment meted out to the Rohingya Muslims by the Buddhists in Myanmar. The intention of such individuals is clearly to deepen and harden the antagonism that some SL Muslims may have towards the Majority Community in Sri Lanka, thereby making the task of rapprochement even more difficult. The author of the above-mentioned post writes “As a Sri Lankan Muslim I am ashamed and disgusted at the way lies and rumours are being spread through Facebook posts by members of my community. Photos from the Tibetan earthquake in 2010, as well as from the massive fuel tank explosion in the Congo in 2010 that killed hundreds are being passed around as photos of “Muslims killed by Buddhists” along with emotional appeals”. Such acts by supposedly Muslim social media activists are reminiscent of similar tactics adopted by supposedly Buddhist social media activists during the period 2012 – 2014 in support of the anti-Muslim groups, which continues to this day.