Maithri’s Election : Muslims Believe as Divine Intervention

my3Last week’s Dramatic Political Changes
Muslims Consider it as Divine Intervention

By Latheef Farook

Disproving astrological predictions and dismissing fears of violence, the opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena who won the election was sworn in as the country’s sixth executive president by Supreme Court Justice K. Sripavan at 6 PM on Friday 9 January 2015 at a simple ceremony held at the independent square.

Such a dramatic political development was almost unimaginable even two months ago in view of the all powerful executive presidency, government’s two third majority in the parliament, ruthless  political manipulations to remain in power , overall control over the island’s media and unleashing violence to silence the people.  Added to this was the disarray in the weak opposition camp in putting forward a common presidential candidate.

However the entire political scene changed overnight when the then health minister and Sri Lanka Freedom Party General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena left the Rajapaksa government in the most unexpected political development and entered the election campaign as the opposition common presidential candidate.

Since then there erupted waves of   support to Maithripala demonstrating the mood of the country taking defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa by surprise.

This trend continued uninterrupted and Maithripala Sirisena won the presidential elections   pollingmus poll 6,217,162 votes (51.28 per cent) whereas the incumbent President Mahinda Rajapaksa secured 5,768,090 votes (47.58 per cent). Thus in this hard fought presidential elections Maithripala Sirisena won by a majority of 449,072 votes.

There were unconfirmed reports that in defiance of people’s verdict, defeated President Mahinda Rajapaksa tried to annul the election, declare curfew and continue to remain in power. There were many   reports that the former president planned to issue emergency regulations and stay in power and former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa played a key role in this move.

Reiterating these reports Ven Athuraliye Rathana Thera, one of the prime movers   to remove former President Mahinda Rajapaksa from power, disclosed that there was a last minute attempt by former president and his family to remain in power with the support of the security forces.

Once these move failed, perhaps due to local and international factors, former president called the opposition leader Ranil Wickremasinghe and made arrangements to hand over power  on an  assurance that he and his family leave the country safe.

He was reported to have left the country with his wife while his children fled to China. There were reports of former Defense Secretary Gotabhaya Rajapaksa fleeing the country with his wife in an air force plane to Male on 9 January to Male after Singapore refused to allow a military aircraft to land there.  Later former Minister Basil Rajapaksa and his wife left for United States on Sunday 11 January morning.

Now the question is how did this dramatic political development happen? However it has happened and even today many find it difficult to believe.

The island’s Muslim community voted for Maithripala Sirisena in view of the atrocities they were subjected to by Sinhala racist such as Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balaya and the like with state patronage.

bbs destroMuslims were not against Rajapaksa government. There were lot of Muslims who supported the Rajapaksa government.  However it was Rajapaksa government’s atrocities unleashed on them forced them to turn to Maithripala who advocated communal harmony in the hope the ongoing racist attacks on them will stop and a new era of peace will dawn.

For example Muslims were not party to the ethnic war between the Tamil militants and the government. However Muslims suffered a great deal during the three decades of ethnic war. In fact it was their fierce opposition to the LTTE call for the division of the country and steadfast support to successive governments to ensure the territorial integrity at great cost prevented the breakup of the country.

Thus after the war ended they were hoping a new era of peace   would herald and their sufferings would end.

Instead, dashing all hopes and to the shock of all, they were subjected to immense sufferings with attacks on their religious, social, economic and cultural life and business establishments.

Muslims were helpless and voiceless with their politicians clinging on to the very government which was protecting hooligans attacking them. They suspected these attacks   on them as a calculated conspiracy to crush and eliminate them as a community. From kidnapping of Muslim businessmen in white vans to the systematic attacks, burning and looting of their   properties of Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala there were more than 350 attacks.

This short sighted disastrous policy reached such a stage that their very survival as a community was at monks-and-gothastake with their lands being arbitrarily acquired and overall attacks continuing unabated. Such blatant racist atrocities were never known in their more than 1000 year history in the island.

However no perpetrator was taken into custody and the Muslims turned to divine intervention for safety and security with special prayers and the recital of kunooth (special prayer during times of difficulties). Men, women and children alike continued to recite kunooth dismissing calls from so called “moulavithumas” who sold their souls and hobnobbed with former president Mahinda Rajapakse asking not to recite kunooth to please former president.

There was also growing fear among the Muslims with people like Udaya Gammanpila,known for his anti Muslim mindset,  stating that an attack on Muslims this year to commemorate the centenary of 1915 Sinhala-Muslim riots is inevitable.

It was in this gloomy atmosphere came the presidential elections which provided an   opportunity to express their anger and frustration by voting for the opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena who promised security for all communities.

“This is a miracle. Our prayers were answered and not only the Muslims even the country as a whole is saved from the destructive communal politics which threatened the very fabric of communal harmony badly needed in the country”. This was the general response of Muslims all over.

sl prayThey pointed out that “there was no reason for the Rajapaksa government to commit such atrocities on them. It was sheer madness, perhaps to please his new Israeli friends who have supposed to have entered the island in a big way and were suspected of training and financing Sinhala racists to attack Muslims as part of their global anti Muslims agenda which virtually destroyed the Middle East.  Rajapaksa government paid the price for his racist politics promoting Sinhalese in almost every possible field while openly dismissing the   minorities as if they were not citizens of this country.

“We were helpless and there was no one to turn to other than seeking divine intervention to save us .Our prayers were answered today and we continue to pray and hope that there will be communal harmony and peace for the betterment of all in the country. Ends

Sunil Perera’s Baila Song sums up Sri Lanka’s Tragedy since Independence

SunilPereraTime for stock taking and soul searching our racist politics and moral crisis. 
 By Latheef Farook

Election time has always been a period of amusement in Sri Lanka where democracy continues to erode ever since independence in February 1948.

One such item which sums up the tragedy fell on the island since independence   was a baila song in the YouTube by Sunil Perera under the title The Gypsies “ Kiyanne Gothala”.  This 4 minute 48 second song summarises how once stable and prosperous srilanka was ruined by corrupt racist politicians. Continue reading

Muslim Parliamentarians’ Cross Over to Opposition

chnageMuslim parliamentarians’ cross over to opposition
Sheer political opportunism and hypocrisy.
They neither represent Muslim community nor Islamic teachings and values
By Latheef Farook   

 

​A week after former minister Rishard Badurdeen leaving the government on Monday 22 December 2014 and pledging support to opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, SLMC, announced its decision to follow suit on Sunday 28 December 2014.

The SLMC announced its decision after dilly dallying and keeping everyone guessing for weeks. Three days later on Wednesday 31 December 2014, former deputy Minister Faizar Mustapha quit the government and pledged support to Maithripala Sirisena.

However the question is why did the SLMC,  so called Muslim parliamentarians and others who benefitted from the government leave the government now?  Why didn’t they do so when Muslims were attacked and harassed by racist elements with state patronage during the past three years?

This is also applicable to others who held positions here and abroad, enjoyed all perks and remained silent amidst atrocities on Muslims now desperately trying to project themselves as the saviors of the community and the country.

Isn’t this sheer political opportunism and hypocrisy to hoodwink the community which has virtually lost rauff crossconfidence on most Muslim politicians?

What the government and the opposition leaders ought to know is that these parliamentarians and others have nothing to do with the Muslim community which has already made up its mind whom to vote.

The question is, even at this late stage, why didn’t the SLMC and other Muslims who crossed over to the opposition speak out on the atrocities on Muslims to justify their decision in the same way Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, Chairman of Jathika Hela Urumaya and his JHU colleague former minister Patali champika Ranawake speaking out exposing misrule and corruption.

As we all know Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, Chairman of Jathika Hela Urumaya and   former minister Patali champika Ranawake left the government on principles. The two openly accused President Mahinda Rajapaksa of promoting family rule, corruption, protecting drug dealers, licensing casinos, gambling and many such evils destroying society and the country. In doing so they urged the people to use their votes to change this government.

I watched Mr. Champika Ranawake’s speech at Maharagama in the YouTube and one ought to admire his courage though I always disliked his racist policies hostile to minorities. This is where we need to remember what Imam Ali reported to have said” don’t look at the person but listen to what he says”.

5995326-3x2-700x467This is what was expected of Mr. Rauf Hakeem, his team and others. Muslims expected them to highlight the atrocities committed on them as their main reason for leaving the government. However, as expected, they miserably failed.

Instead Hakeem in his resignation letter to the President stated that “I will always carry the fond memories of your gracious personal attributes as an exceptional political leader of our time. The immense value of your support I received as a Minister of your Cabinet makes my departure a painful experience. I believe that our nation has made great strides under your leadership. I leave with a deep sense of gratitude and hope.”

They say to be hearty in your approbation and lavish in your praise. This is what Hakeem’s words about the President convey. Although irrelevant to the issues of resignation, Hakeem appears to have taken out adequate and far sighted insurance cover for a rainy day – to return to the fold as a prodigal whenever the situation warrants.  Hakeem is naive to think that in future Muslims will live with this type of moral turpitude from their so called leaders.

This also applies to Faizar Mustapha who refused to criticize President Mahinda Rajapaksa or Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa for their failure to prevent the atrocities on Muslims specially the organized attacks on Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala Muslims. On the contrary he went on to praise the president and the defense secretary for helping him to control the pogrom.

Meanwhile Hakeem also stated that his party thought that the“18th Amendment,, introduced by this government and took away the good governance, was only to give the incumbent President few more chances to run for the Presidency, but the section with regard to repealing the 17th Amendment was brought in at the last minute.

If that was the case they could have decided not to vote for such an amendment. Now the question is why did they remain with the government which, as they claim, tricked them?

my3 monkSLMC and other Muslim parliamentarians, as constituent members of the government have been party to all atrocities against Muslims during the past few years.  Now the question is why didn’t they raise these issues and quit the government then to show that they do not approve of these attacks on Muslims?

They failed to do so? Why, perhaps they loved their positions, perks than the sufferings of the community. Isn’t this sheer hypocrisy?

The allegation that the SLMC left the government due to lack of good governance and accountability was refuted by the UPFA General Secretary and Environment and Renewable Energy Minister Susil Premjayantha .According to him the SLMC quit the coalition because President Mahinda Rajapaksa had turned down its demand to carve out a separate Muslim administrative unit in the Digamadulla electoral district comprising three electoral districts namely Kalmunai, Sammanthurai and Pottuvil.

A separate Muslim administrative unit in the Digamadulla electoral district was a proposal mooted by late founder of SLMC Mr. M.H.M.Ashraff at a time when he was in the payroll of   IPKF. It was entirely different political environment then.

However today, especially in the aftermath of the military defeat of LTTE and the rise of Sinhala racist organizations attacking Muslims, circumstance is entirely different.

Under such politically volatile atmosphere   is it advisable to demand a separate Muslim administrative unit in the Digamadulla electoral district. This is not the priority of the Muslim community which is keen on ending violence against them.

As expected this proposal provided fodder to anti Muslim racist elements to provoke and pit Sinhalese against Muslims? For example, as expected, Bodu Bala Sena was quick to frighten the majority community by stating that Muslims are asking a separate.

Supporting this view state media, Ceylon Daily News, whose editor  Rajpal Abeynaike called Rishard Badurdeen a pig when he quit the government, stated under the title “SLMC NOW A LTTE” in its Tuesday 30 December 2014 issue lead article.

It appears Muslims grievances were not even raised when the SLMC pledged support to the opposition candidate.

These politicians neither represent the Muslim community nor the cherished Islamic principles and values. As it happened in the past, once elected the Muslim community has no control over these parliamentarians who get absorbed into the corrupt political system which brought the country to the current sad state of affairs.

This is the reason why civil organizations such as National Shoora Council.NSC, emerged   to jointly deal with burning issues of the community while striving to establish close relations with the other communities.

Thus the time has come for the majority community and political parties to deal with institutions like NSC rather than turning to wheeler dealer politicians. Ends

Presidential Election Slogans of Simple Life, Social Justice, Accountability and Good Governance

my3 mahiThe opposition presidential candidate Maithripala Sirisena pledges simple life, Ven Sobitha Thero calls for social justice and Ven Athuraliya Thero struggles for good governance and accountability Maithripala Sirisena says” on elected as the president he would not move into official residence Temple Trees but would live in his own simple house. He has also declared his assets for everyone to see. He is keen on leading a simple life and serving the people of all communities.

Thus he calls for simplicity of life.  

Venerable Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero who  single handedly spearheaded   the campaign to abolish the Executive Presidency with his National Movement for Social Justice wanted to ensure social justice for all in the country. He played a key role in the creation of a common opposition candidate. He should be paid tribute because he fought for justice at a time not many in the country were even prepared to talk about justice due to fear of revenge.

Thus he calls for social justice.

Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero, a  Buddhist monk,  a vibrant politician and a dynamic member of the Parliament, formed an organization called ‘Pivithuru Hetak’ (The National Council for a Better Tomorrow) to   change the existing  presidential system by educating   political leaders, intellectuals, academics and the public on  vital facts essential  on good governance for the betterment of the country.

Thus he calls for accountability and good governance.

Simple life, social justice and good governance to the benefit of all are all what Islam is about.This is what Allah told us in the Holy Quran to ensure a better society more than 14 centuries ago. This is what our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Peace be Upon Him) has shown us by living a life reflecting the Holy Quranic teachings. In fact he was the personification of all what was taught in the Holy Quran.

In fact great Caliph Omar who built an empire stretching from North India to Mediterranean capturing including Jerusalem without shedding a drop of blood and ruled with justice was known for his simplicity and just rule.

For example Caliph Umar, busy doing some official work in the light of an oil lamp, put off his lamp when a visitor who came to see him said he had just come to pay a social call. There was darkness everywhere. When the visitor asked why he put off the oil lamp Caliph said “I was doing office work and the burning oil in the lamp is the property of the people and he was not entitled to use that oil to entertain a friend”.

In this regard it is worth recalling how Caliph Omar captured Jerusalem with his simplicity.

When the Muslim army entered Jerusalem the Patriarch of the city Sophronius stated that he would negotiate only with Caliph Umar and that nobody enters Jerusalem before Caliph Umar. On hearing this Caliph Umar informed that he was on his way.

maithr1

Accompanied by a servant, Caliph Umar rode on camelback to Jerusalem though he could have been accompanied by an entourage that could have made the ground tremble under the hooves of horses. He did so to show simplicity and ensure that Allah alone deserves all the glories.

On reaching Jerusalem, it was the servant’s turn to ride the camel and as a mark of respect to Caliph Umar and to ensure that the people see the Caliph, the servant wanted the Caliph to ride the camel. However Caliph Umar refused and entered Jerusalem on foot while the servant rode the camel to the shock and surprise of everyone including Patriarch Sophronius. On reaching the place Caliph Umar continued the journey on foot carrying his shoes in hand under the astonished gaze of the people.

Opposition presidential candidate Mithripala Sirisena

aliph Umar walked to the army wearing modest threadbare clothes. The Christians who watched everything from the walls of Jerusalem were amazed at the strange simplicity, unable to believe that this simple man could be the leader of those well equipped armies.

The Patriarch Sophronius who saw the unfolding scenes with great admiration said to his people that nobody in the world would be able to stand up to these people and advised them to surrender to be saved.

After the treaty was signed the key to the city was formally handed over in 637 AC. The gates of Jerusalem were opened and Caliph Umar entered along a promenade that led him to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. Caliph Umar was inside and the Patriarch Sophronius said to him “pray”. However Caliph Umar declined, fearing it might establish a precedent that would threaten the church’s continued use as a Christian house of worship. Instead he prayed in an area to the south of the church, now the site of the Mosque of Umar in Jerusalem.

In doing so Caliph Umar showed the world the meaning of tolerance and generosity in victory and strength. It was the greatness of Islam that shone in his spirit and was reflected in his ethics though he was a person known for his firmness and courage.

United States President Barack Obama, British Prime Minister David Cameroon, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi,all soaked in innocent Muslim blood, need to learn a lot from Caliph Umar on good governance.

Ven Maduluwawe  Sobitha Thero

With regard to Ven Sobitha Thero’s call for social justice , in the  Holy Quran- in Chapter Al-NISA (Women)   Allah says;

“Believers, be upholders of justice and bearers of witness to truth for the sake of Allah, even though it may either be against yourselves or against your parents and kinsmen, or the rich or the poor, for Allah is more concerned with their well-being than you are. Do not, then, follow your own desires lest you keep away from justice. If you twist or turn away from (the truth), know that Allah is well aware of all that you do. (from Sayyid Abul A’la Maudi’s Towards Understanding the Quran. Vol 11 Surahs 4-6)sobitha

Ven Sobitha Thero and many others involved in the presidential campaign call for constitutional changes which guarantee accountability.

Islam advocates accountability: “ Abdullah reported that Allah’s Messenger (pbuh) said: Every one of you is a guardian and accountable for his charge. Thus the Amir (Ruler or Head of State) is a guardian of the people and He is accountable for them. And a man is a guardian  of his household and he is accountable for them; and a women is in charge  of the household and her children and she is accountable for them; and a servant is guardian of his master’s property, everyone of you is accountable for his subjects” (Bukhari, al-Jam’al-Sahih)

Accountability for Islamic leaders goes beyond the confines of this life; they will also be accountable to Allah in the Hereafter. Here are two relevant sayings from the Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) about the consequences to Islamic leaders who are corrupt, and self-serving:

  1. “There is no governor who rules Muslim subjects and dies, having played foul with them, but Allah will forbid him Paradise”
  2. “If he does not strive diligently to promote their welfare, he will not enter Paradise with them.”

“Verily, Allah commands you to make over the trusts to those entitled to them. And that when you judge between them, you judge with justice.” (4:58)

Islam is also in total agreement with Ven. Athuraliye Rathana Thero’s call for a corrupt free society under good governance to the benefit of all.  In fact this is what Holy Quran has been teaching for the past more than 14 centuries. This was the just rule in Madina during the time of Prophet Muhammad and under righteous caliphs. Unfortunately western imperil powers distort Islam and demonize Muslims to invade and destroy Muslim countries and Muslim societies to loot their wealth and ensure that Islam remains suppressed to suit their evil designs. Thus the world is unable to understand Islam. Sri Lanka is no exception.

The Quran states: “And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. Then when you have taken a decision, put your trust in Allah, certainly, Allah loves those who put their trust (in Him)” (3:159).

Excellent Islamic leaders   are truthful, just and avoid bribery and corruption.

And do not devour your wealth among yourselves through falsehood, and offer it not as a bribe to the authorities that you may knowingly devour a part of the wealth of other people with injustice.” (2:189).

Ibn Masud said that Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh)   slept on a reed mat and got up with the mark of it on his body. He said, “O Allah’s Messenger! I wish you would order us to spread something out for you and make something.” The Prophet   replied, “What have I to do with the world, I am like a rider who rests for a while under the shade of a tree, then goes off and leaves it.” Ubaid-Allah bin Muhsin reported Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh) as saying, “If anyone among you is secure in mind in the morning, healthy in body and has food for the day, it is as though the whole world has been brought into his Possession.”
Abu Hurairah reported   Allah’s Messenger (Pbuh)   as saying, “Look at those who are inferior to you and do not look at those who are superior to you, for that is more likely to keep you from despising Allah’s Favor on you.” Abu Talha   said, “When we complained to Allah’s Messenger of hunger and raised our clothes to show we were each carrying a stone over our belly, he raised his clothes and showed that he had two stones on his belly.”

rathanaOnce Umar   entered Prophet’s house and noticed the state of the furniture in it. Prophet himself had only one sheet of cloth round him to cover the lower part of his body. There was one simple bed, with one pillow filled with nut fiber; on one side of the room was some barley and in one corner near his feet was an animal skin. There were some water-bag skins hanging beside his bed. Umar said that on seeing these tears came into his eyes. Allah’s Messenger   asked the reason for his tears. He replied, “O Allah’s Messenger! Why shouldn’t I cry!

The strings of the bed have left marks on your body. This is a small room with all your furniture; I can see what there is. The Kaiser (Cesar) of Rome and Kisra (Khosru) of Persia enjoy luxurious living while you, Allah’s Messenger and the Chosen One, live like this.” He said, “Ibn Al-Khattab! Don’t you like that they choose this world and we choose the Hereafter?”.

In short, Muhammad (Pbuh) lived and liked a simple life and enjoyed every minute of it. He taught his companions, through his personal example, to lead a simple life and not to be ostentatious.

Where are we after 14 centuries today?

It is worthy to note that Islam and great Islamic rulers like Caliph Umar have disappeared from the Muslim Middle East which was turned into a killing field by United States, Europe and Israel in collaboration with the Arab dictators. All what we have is a group of treacherous anti people anti Islamic dictators serving their US-European masters who have installed and maintained them in power to implement their evil agendas against Muslims.

This includes the land of Islam Saudi Arabia where the ruthless dictator, the most oppressive ruler in the planet, brutalizing people in complete violation of Islam. Thus one should not judge the present set of dictators in the Middle East by Islamic values.

SLMC- Liability on the Muslim Community

Time to dissolve and stop claiming to represent Muslims
By Latheef Farook
SLMC7
Muslims are a deeply wounded community today. They are ignored by successive governments, betrayed by their own politicians and exploited by all to suit their agendas. The selfish politics of the main Muslim political party Sri Lanka Muslim Congress, SLMC, and it are more than half a dozen splinter groups have brought nothing but disaster.

As a result Muslims are disgusted with their politicians. They are in the same camp with Sinhala racist groups which   unleashed violence against Muslims’ threatening their very existence as a community.

For the past four years these racists, often led by Buddhist monks, have undertaken a very well planned and organized vicious and shameful campaign attacking mosques and religious schools, Muslim women’s dress code, food and almost every other aspect of their life often under the watchful eyes of security forces.

In the process they killed, looted and destroyed    properties under a meticulously planned and executed to military precision attack on Aluthgama, Dharga Town and Beruwala Muslims. Overnight Muslims in the area were made penniless turning once wealthy Muslims who fed others to stretch their hands for food.

According to United Nations sources there were around 350 attacks on Muslims.  

As if these atrocities were not enough Myanmar’s fascist monk Ashin Wirathu, responsible for killing thousands of innocent Rohingya Muslims, was brought in with a reception usually meant for heads of states.

​​What better way to   humiliate the Muslims   already wounded by attacks on them? Now the unanswered question is why these atrocities on Muslims? Did they ask for a separate?

However Muslim community was quick to realize that this violence was by a few hundreds of people suspected to have been trained by Israel’s Mossad and funded through Norway as part of the Zionist global campaign against Islam and Islam. The tragedy is the government turning blind eyes to these crimes against a community.

Despite all these naked atrocities SLMC continue to cling on to the government supported by BBS and other Sinhala racist elements. This included Udaya Gammanpila, known for his anti Muslim mindset and shameless prediction that an attack on Muslims in 2015 is   inevitable to commemorate the 1915 Sinhala Muslims riots  

Under the circumstance all what the Muslim community could expect from Muslim    parliamentarians is to leave the government if they cannot stop this lawlessness. However they refuse to do so.  

As a result Muslim politicians have become   irrelevant. In fact this has been the more than a quarter century history of SLMC.

For example, when almost a quarter century ago M.H.M. Ashraff first mooted the idea of forming a separate political party for Muslims, many Muslims including parliamentarians, professionals and others, advised him to either give up the idea or confine the proposed political party to the east .

They warned him that an island-wide Muslim party had all the potentials to harm good relations between Sinhalese and Muslims in the rest of the country, just as it happened later as seen by the rising Sinhalese chauvinism.  

Justifying their warnings they explained that Muslims live in small numbers in peace and harmony with their Sinhalese neighbors in hundreds of villages and an all-island Muslim political party raising Islamic slogans, may put all Muslims into one communal camp and disturb their good relations with the Sinhalese community, especially with Sinhalese hardliners awaiting an opportunity to raise a communal cry.

However all these saner advices he went ahead and established the Muslim Congress as an island-wide political party.

Some elements in the Muslim community in the south, ignored and insulted by the major national political parties, too viewed the SLMC with sympathy in the hope of a forum to highlight their problems without antagonizing the major political parties in the south.   

It was around this time that the Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi forcefully  thrusted the Indo-Lanka Accord on 29 July 1987 down the throat of Sri Lanka .

The Indo-Lanka Accord paved the way for the merger of the Northern and Eastern provinces and the establishment of provincial councils. It was also announced that the elections to these provincial councils were to be held in November 1988. But the LTTE refused to participate. Yet the Indian government did everything possible to ensure that Tamil militants and political parties contested the elections.

Several senior politicians from the area said, that the Indian High Commission in Colombo handed over cash donations to Tamil militants and the SLMC.   This was revealed in the book, “Tigers of Sri Lanka – From Boys to Geurrillas” (Page 289, second paragraph, second Edition, New Delhi) by M.R. Narayan Swamy. Except the LTTE most Tamil militant groups and the SLMC contested the provincial council elections for the East.  

The election was fought on bitter and destructive communal lines and both Tamil militants and the SLMC were fully responsible for dividing the two communities and the price innocent people from the two communities were made to pay later.

Meanwhile Muslims in the East looked up to SLMC as the political force that could bring salvation to them. The SLMC slogans were “Islam” and “Muslims” and SLMC leader Ashraff claimed that the Holy Quran and Hadees were the very basis of his party.

He stated in the parliament on 23rd March 1989 that (Vol 55. No 7 and pages 993-1013): “In the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress we have our own principles and our vision is very clear. The Holy Quran and the supreme life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (Pbuh) are the guidelines of our party”.  

In the 1988 presidential elections, the SLMC agreed to support the Sri Lanka Freedom Party, but at the eleventh hour this agreement was abandoned, in violation of Islamic teachings, and the SLMC supported the UNP candidate, causing deep disappointment within the SLFP circles. Muslims, especially those in the south, were also shocked and disappointed.

This decision considerably dented the credibility and the integrity of the Muslim Congress as well as the community, which had produced leaders of impeccable integrity and were known for their loyalty to their political parties.

One should not forget that this policy, as expected, won the wrath of the SLFP towards the Muslim community that had nothing to do with this decision. Mrs. Srimavo Bandaranaike and her Sri Lankan Freedom Party had every reason to question the policies of the SLMC that, by then, had emerged as a one-man show. Furious Muslims in Colombo and other areas blamed the SLMC for harming their relations with the majority Sinhalese community. There were speculations that Ashraff was bought over by the UNP.  

Six years later, during the 1994 elections the SLMC tied up with the SLFP-led Peoples’ Alliance [PA], under the leadership of then Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga.  

Around this time, knowledgeable Muslims began losing faith in the SLMC that built up an image as a political party by simply joining the winning side to suit its leader’s personal agenda. There were many who started to openly criticize the SLMC, stating that the community’s interest would have been better served if the SLMC has not come to the political scene and allowed the Muslims to be in different political parties and work together with the other communities.

In the 1994 elections, the SLMC won seven seats and it so happened that the Peoples’ Alliance also needed seven seats to form the government. Thus, the SLMC seats became indispensable. Prime Minister Chandrika Kumaratunga formed the UPFA Government, with SLMC support, providing the SLMC with an unprecedented bargaining power and influence that was not to the liking of the majority community, especially the hardliners.

In his hour of unprecedented glory, Ashraff failed to read the mood of the majority community and his irresponsible statements irritated many. For example, in an egotistic statement, Ashraff publicly claimed that the “SLMC has emerged as the kingmaker and without its support the government could not be formed”. This unwarranted statement also angered many Muslims.

Muslims who were attracted by his Islamic slogans and supported him began to question the credibility of these slogans especially in the context of his lifestyle as minister. The situation deteriorated so much that a large number of senior members of the SLMC started distancing themselves from the party turning the SLMC into yet another political party in the country.  

Leadership Crisis

Ashraff’s sudden death triggered off the inevitable leadership crisis within the party which was thrown into doldrums with no one groomed for leadership. The leadership struggle was confined to Rauf Hakeem and Mrs. Ferial Ashraff.

According to some in the SLMC circle, President Chandrika Kumaratunga   exploited the confusion in the SLMC to her own advantage by making Mrs. Ferial   a minister leading the NUA.

Subsequently both Rauf Hakeem as the SLMC leader and Mrs. Ferial Ashraff as the NUA leader were in the cabinet holding ministerial portfolios. There was an invisible power struggle that started brewing between the two at party and ministerial levels, causing further divisions and much disillusionment to the SLMC members.

While this unseen power struggle was underway there was confusion everywhere. In the midst came the anti-Muslim riots at Mawanella. President Chandrika Kumaratunga’s handling of the Mawanella riot strained relations between the government and the SLMC. This growing split ended up with Rauf Hakeem leaving the government and crossing over to the opposition together with A.L.M. Athaulla and few others. He later signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UNP. But Mrs. Ferial Ashraf remained in the PA government as minister leading the NUA.

In the subsequent 2001 general elections, the UNP won and Rauf Hakeem was made Minister of Ports and Shipping, Muslim Religious Affairs, Eastern Development and Rehabilitation. Some senior SLMC members led by Athaullah accused Rauf Hakeem of grabbing all ministries for himself and not sharing it with them. 

This triggered off yet another power struggle within the SLMC which   ended up in the second split. Athaullah   formed his own party – All Ceylon Muslim Congress Ashraff Group.  

Meanwhile in the east the Muslims, especially professionals and others were enraged with Rauf Hakeem for his failure to protect the interest of Muslims in the Ceasefire Agreement, and with Ranil Wickremasinghe for ignoring the Muslim interests when he signed the CFA in February 2002. Muslims were also seething with anger with the Wickremasinghe government for turning a blind eye to LTTE atrocities against them. Under such circumstances, they questioned, why did the SLMC, supposed to be working for the interest of Muslims, join Ranil Wickremasinghe?

In the subsequent general elections, the SLMC contested as three different factions- Rauf Hakeem with the UNP, the National Unity Alliance led by Mrs. Ferial aligned with the PA and the third, led by N.M. Shaheed, one of the deputy leaders of the Muslim Congress. Ranil Wickremasinghe’s government was defeated and the People’s Alliance led by Mrs. Kumaratunga was elected and Mrs. Ferial, Rishard Badurdeen, Athaulla, Cegu Issadeen, Anver Ismail, Nagib A Majed, Ameer Ali were all made ministers .

Rauf Hakeem and his team ended up in the opposition.

Almost a year later there appeared the fourth splinter group led by Hafiz Nazeer Ahmed, the Director of SLMC International Affairs division during the time of Ashraff, forming his own political party – Democratic Unity Alliance [DUA].  

Once again dissension started brewing within the party after the Pottuvil massacre. Then came LTTE theoretician Anton Balasingham’s death and Rauf Hakeem’s condolence message that infuriated the Muslims further. Into this mess, losing whatever faith left within the community, the SLMC once again joined the Peoples Alliance government in early 2007 and Rauf Hakeem was made Minister of Posts and Telecommunications.  

On the eve of joining the government, on 28 January 2007, there were heated discussions at a politburo meeting on whether to join the government or not.   There was no invitation but some SLMC members invited themselves by initiating the move to join the government, and again, not to serve the community but to look after themselves.  

 They negotiated, before joining the government, not as a bloc but as individuals and groups and got   ministerial portfolios and   associated perks. By now the Sinhala leadership has come to know that Muslim politicians could be manipulated and the community could be made   voiceless. This is   happening even now.  

 This happened at a time when the community faced burning issues in the east such as land grabbing, colonization of Muslim-owned lands with Sinhalese brought in from outside, the longstanding problems of northern Muslims in refugee camps in Puttalam and other such issues.

In the midst Rishard Badurdeen left the SLMC and started his own party paving the way for the sixth division.

The efforts of many Muslim individuals and organizations to bring these Muslim parliamentarians, especially those from the East, together to jointly take some measures to deal with   issues that threatened the livelihood of Mutur Muslims proved futile. 

They were also silent when Muslim businessmen and others were kidnapped for ransom. The question raised at all Muslim gatherings was “what are these Muslim parliamentarians doing?  Can’t they get up and raise the plight of Muslim businessmen? Whom are they working for?”.  It was only Rauf Hakeem who raised the question of abductions of Muslim businessmen while other Muslim parliamentarians virtually abandoned the community to please the government.

The SLMC is not like any other party. It came with the slogan of Islam and, attracted by these slogans, Muslims voted in large numbers in the hope of guidance to the community. Those who voted for the SLMC expected impeccable moral principles and integrity, as emphasized by Islam, from their leadership. In fact the SLMC, which claims that its constitution is based on the Holy Quran and Hadees, should have set an example to other national parties for honesty, integrity, moral character, dedicated services and all such values which their slogan, “Islam” propounds. 

However to the contrary the SLMS today, Known for allegations of corruption and opportunism, greed for power and positions, factional fighting, shameful scandals and the tendency to betray their own colleagues for positions,   has ended up as the mythical Greek Tragedy

As a result the SLMC has become an unfortunate liability on the community.      

This was the sorry state of affairs that Muslim politicians have brought upon the community especially at a time when nationalists and neo-nationalists from the majority community in the government are hell-bent on implementing their agendas against the Muslim community.    

The general feeling among the Muslims is that the SLMC is today a liability. Ends

External iInfluence in the Presidential Elections

my3By Latheef Farook 

Unlike in the past powerful external forces are bound to play significant roles in influencing the forthcoming 8 January 2015 presidential elections marked by dramatic changes unfolding almost on a daily basis. This trend was triggered off ever since Health Minister and Sri Lanka Freedom Party General Secretary Maithripala Sirisena shocked the nation by crossing over to the opposition to become the opposition common candidate for the forthcoming presidential elections.

Many foreign powers, struggling to get a foothold in Sri Lanka in view of its strategic location in the Indian Ocean, have entered the scene. They had done so very successfully. Certainly they would support a candidate who would not only help ensure their presence, but also facilitate and enhance the implementation of their own agendas in the island. Continue reading