There is a growing feeling and fear among Sri Lanka's Muslims that a sinister campaign has been underway inciting the Sinhalese against them. The campaign portrays Sri Lanka's Muslims as a threat to Buddhism, the Sinhala people, their culture and the country as a whole.
While 18 websites – eight in Sinhala and ten in English — have been identified as part of this campaign, the Sinhala print media also carry articles on topics such as the 1915 riots and cattle slaughter, rousing communal disharmony at a time when every effort should be made to bring communities together. This is certainly not in the best interest of anyone.
This orchestrated campaign by a handful who think in terms of race rather than national unity shows that some people have learned no lessons from the past. Alarmed at the vicious nature of the campaign, a group of Muslim professionals, religious scholars, youth leaders and others are planning to take up the matter with President Mahinda Rajapaksa, mahanayakes and leaders of the Sinhala community.
All that the country needs now is a concerted effort to bring communities together and move ahead as one nation. Instead this potentially destructive campaign could drag the country back to the dark years.
In the past, some racist elements were heard to say that "we will deal first with the Tamils and then take care of the Muslims". The Muslims now wonder whether some people are trying to make this happen.
It is common knowledge that some hardline elements openly demand that the Tamils should leave for Tamil Nadu and the Muslims for Saudi Arabia, leaving Sri Lanka only to the Sinhala Buddhists.
There were also reports of mosques being attacked and government school principals opposing the Muslim form of dress. A principal of a leading girl's school in Colombo, named after a late prime minister, has told a Muslim mother, an old girl of the same school and lawyer, not to enter the school premises wearing shalwar kameez. If this kind of racism can be found in a seat of learning what could one expect from students? Such activities, in complete violation of Buddhist teachings, have been committed by a handful, claiming to be guardians of Buddhism. The sooner they realise the reality that Sri Lanka is a multi racial, multi religious, multi lingual and multi cultural country, the better it is for the country which is trying to reap the dividends of peace after three decades of war.
It is also a fact that politicians of all shades of opinion thrived on racism which only brought death and destruction. One should not forget that some of these politicians reportedly made fortunes during the 30-year ethnic war. Now that the war is over this group, which is without business, perhaps, may be trying to precipitate another crisis to thrive on others' misery.
The anti-Muslim websites also carry articles hailing Zionism and Zionist atrocities in occupied territories.
Israel whose officials once described Sri Lankans as 'Monkey Looking People' and trained both the LTTE cadres and the Sri Lankan government troops at the same time, has managed to sneak into Sri Lanka despite being expelled time and again. Politicians, journalists, businessmen and others who hobnob with the Israelis, perhaps, are ignorant of Israel's criminal records and why peace loving people worldwide are against that state.
Perhaps, these people do not know that Israel is making use of them to precipitate a violent campaign against the Muslims in Sri Lanka.
Citing an Indian Home Ministry report, the New Delhi-based fortnightly "Milli Gazette" in its December 1-15, 2009 issue disclosed that Hindu extremist organizations get funds from Israel via Europe to incite communal riots against Muslims. The report added that in 2008 alone Rs. 7877 crores were given to Hindu extremist organizations which they used for subversive activities in the form of riots, bomb blasts and creating circumstances detrimental to Muslims. "Investigation gives credence to the belief that Hindu terrorists are poisoning the socio-political atmosphere in India and Israel is helping them through financial help," the report said.
Now the question we must ask ourselves is, 'what is the guarantee that the Israelis would not do the same thing here in Sri Lanka'? Don't be surprised if we find there are mercenaries operating in Sri Lanka. Can Sri Lanka afford to take this risk especially at a time when all communities are looking forward to a peaceful future?
Judging by the numerous malicious articles that appear in the print media it looks as if the Zionists have infiltrated certain section of the local media also. Muslim countries, especially those in the Middle East, look to Sri Lanka with warmth and friendship. In response to Sri Lanka's steadfast support to the Palestinian cause, some of these countries provided economic assistance and came to our rescue during difficult times especially during the recent war against the LTTE and at various international fora, including the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council. Besides, almost a million Sri Lankans work in the Gulf States, remitting billions in foreign exchange.
This begs the question "is there any need to jeopardize this longstanding friendship and goodwill"?
Under the circumstance Muslims, living scattered all over the island and who also suffered a great deal during the ethnic war as they refused to support Tamil separatism and stood steadfastly for Sri Lanka's territorial integrity and sovereignty, can only turn to the government and responsible leaders in the Sinhala community to stop this hate campaign so that a potential disaster can be averted.
(The writer is a veteran Sri Lankan journalist)