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Civil society questions PCoI blaming majority community extremists ‘nourishing’ Islamic extremists

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The Easter Sunday Commission has incorrectly and inappropriately labelled majoritarian extremism as well as minoritarian extremism as “Islamic” and “Buddhist” extremism, argues a group of Muslim civil society activists.

M. M. Zuhair PC, former MP, Latheef Farook, Journalist and Author, Mass L. Usuf, Attorney-at-Law and Advocacy Columnist and Mansoor Dahlan, Theology Scholar, issued the following statement in this regard: “The Easter Sunday Commission has said (at page 471) that “The thowheed (Wahhabis) ideology is at the core of the Islamic extremism prevalent in the country. This was further fermented by Buddhist extremism which was not checked at an early stage”. In our view these are unacceptable observations, because as pointed out in our earlier statement we do not subscribe to the Western right wing extremist propagandist narrative of naming and shaming Islam or Buddhism for the extremist views or conduct of a few amongst their respective followers. Erroneous narratives such as “Islamic” extremism or “Buddhist” extremism will be wrongfully exploited before international fora for attack by anti-Sri Lankan interest groups.

“There are in our country, majoritarian extremism as well as minoritarian extremism, adverted to in the Commission’s report but incorrectly and inappropriately stereotyped as “Islamic” and “Buddhist” extremism.

“We also do not accept that ‘thouheed’ or ‘thouheed ideology’ is at the core of extremism prevalent in the country. No doubt there had been differences of opinion within the Muslim community on methodology and ritualistic practices at different times in the country. There had been similar rifts amongst followers of other religions as well. This is a common phenomenon amongst followers of all religions.

“But it is noteworthy that the 21/4 attacks were never against any segment of the Muslims by other Muslims! Majoritarian extremism, intolerance and inciting anti-minority hatred and failure on the part of the authorities to prosecute according to law, some of which have been referred to though inadequately in the report, had led to the violent extremist terrorist attacks of 21/4.

“We do not accept the Commission’s observations above referred to for the reason that incorrect reasoning and erroneous actions thereon may not help the country to avoid a recurrence of similar attacks. Blind implementation of some of the recommendations, we fear may provoke radicalization and communal conflicts. On the other hand actions to be taken, must prevent and not be the new causes for the recurrence of another despicable 21/4!   

“It must be pointed out that the composition of the five-member Commission was exclusively pan-Sinhala. The 32-member Commission staff was pan-Sinhala. The Attorney General’s team which assisted the fact finding Commission erroneously described in the report as the “Prosecution” team was pan-Sinhala. The investigation team of 44, except for one retired SSP was pan-Sinhala! Nevertheless the Commission had been forthright (A) to blame (at page 15) extremist groups in the majority community for ‘nourishing Islamic’ extremist groups; (B) to pointedly refer (at page 464) to the rise of “Buddhist” extremism between 2012 and 2015 though blamed only on the BBS; (C) to advert to (at page 361) Buddhist extremist organisations such as BBS as “vocal critics of Islamic extremism and wahhabism in particular”; (D) that the BBS “went beyond targeting the Muslim community in general with hate speech” and identifying two speeches one at Maharagama on 17th February 2013 and the other at Aluthgama in June 2014 containing “without any doubt hate speech”’ (E)  that the Attorney General file charges against the hate speech maker; (F) in naming Sihala Rawaya, Mahasohon Balakaya, Sinhale Jathika Balamuluwa and Sinhale Jathika Sanvidanaya among others as “anti-social Sinhala Buddhist Movements” and recommending action.  

“Furthermore the Commission report states (at page 29) that the Sufi group “believes that one of their leaders is God”. This is shockingly false. Sufis believe Allah alone as God. We need to remember that Sufism is a well-recognized facet of Islam. So is ‘Thouheed’ which means monotheism or ‘oneness’ of Allah. It is clearly distinguished from the Christian concept of ‘trinity’. Every Muslim believes in the oneness of Allah.

“Sufis as well as ‘Muwahhideens’ who are called by their critics as ‘Wahhabis’ too believe in the oneness of Allah (as opposed to multiple Gods). Though every Sufi and ‘Muwahhideen’ (‘wahabi’) is a believer in the ‘oneness’ or ‘singleness’ of Allah or ‘thowheed’, not every Muslim is required or compelled to practice Sufism or follow the 18th  century (1703-1787 ) scholar Muhammed Ibn Abdul Wahhab’s thoughts. Muslims follow the Quran and the Sunnah, meaning the sayings and practices of the Prophet Mohammed. The views of Islamic jurists and scholars may be followed, in given situations, if they are not in conflict with the Quran. We must take care to avoid attacks on Islam, because that will be globally resisted and exploited by interest groups at international fora.”



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JVP accuses EC of conspiring to delay LG polls

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By Saman Indrajith

JVP leader Anura Kumara Dissanayake, MP, has told Parliament that the Election Commission and its Chairman are collaborating with the government to postpone the local government elections.

Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023, on Friday, MP Dissanayake said that as local government bodies should be reconstituted before March 20 2023, the Election Commission had to publish a gazette calling nominations by late December or early January.

“The EC has the authority to do so. It has sought the Attorney General’s opinion on some matters. There is no need at all for it to seek the AG’s advice,” he said.

“This is a conspiracy. The Elections Commission can publish the gazette even tomorrow. It is clear that the Elections Commission is collaborating with the government,” he said.

Dissnayake said that Election Commissioner Nimal Punchihewa’s impartiality was in question. “We know where Punchihewa worked before and at what party office. We know the governments and persons he has worked with closely. He is not an independent person.”

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Diana wants bars open 24/7

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By Saman Indrajith

State Tourism Minister Diana Gamage says liquor outlets should be kept open longer if the country wants to boost tourism.Participating in the Third Reading stage debate on Budget 2023 on Friday, State Minister Gamage said: “We have to keep these places open 24/7. I have spoken about it many times. Liquor is the highest tax earner in the country. In this paradise, we are closing bars after 11pm. Foreigners in hotels can’t get any alcohol if they need, because all the places are closed.

We need to keep this country open 24 hours. Like Singapore and other countries, people must have entertainment.”

“I talk about the night life, and when I talked about that earlier many criticized it and saw it as a big sin. That is ones who are incapable of understanding it,” she said.

“What we call night life is actually a night economy. All the countries in the world have developed because of night economy. These countries get 70 percent of their income from the nigh economy. They only get 30 percent during the day time. We have to develop a night economy in this country. That will earn 70 percent of the income. Only that can develop this country.

“We can do that. And also our museum, that closes at 5 pm. In other countries, museums earn most during night. It must be opened 24/7.  This night economy is essential for a country’s economy. People must have places to spend their money.”

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SJB asks govt. to introduce political reforms fast

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By Saman Indrajith

Chief Opposition Whip Kandy District MP Lakshman Kiriella has asked the government when it will introduce the political reforms demanded by the international community.

Speaking in Parliament on Saturday, Kiriella said that when the Opposition parties met the members of the Colombo-based diplomatic community during the Aragalaya protests, the latter had demanded that Sri Lanka implement political and economic reforms to receive foreign assistance to get out of the prevailing crisis. “That was six months ago. We have been asking the government repeatedly to inform this House whether it has implemented those reforms.

“The riginal plan was to establish an interim government for six months to restore the 19th Amendment to the Constitution. It was stated that an election would be held after six months. Now, what has happened? The politicians who are responsible for the crisis are still in power.

“Foreign Minister Al Sabry met USAID Administrator Samantha Power on Friday. Samantha Power called for the same political and economic reforms again. The international community is asking for the same.”

Leader of the House, Minister Susil Premjayantha said that political reforms were being implemented. “It is as part of the political reforms we are setting up a National Council, Sectoral Oversight Committees and three other committees. Counter terrorism act is in the pipeline. It will be taken up within couple of weeks. We passed several bills with your support. There were nine amendments to be introduced to the criminal law,” he said.

Opposition Leader Sajith Premadasa: “The bills and amendments that have been passed are not enough as far as the international community and we are concerned. The biggest request is to allow the people of this country for a new mandate. Allow the people to express their will. Give them a chance to establish a new government or to maintain the same government now they have.”

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