Religious Harmony And The Unity Of The Sri Lankan Nation
Lanka-e-News-reported last week that the Minister for Land and Land Development Janaka Bandara Tennekoon had said that a situation has arisen now where the Muslim mosque situated in the Dambulla ‘sacred area’ cannot be shifted from there. Addressing a special media briefing, the Minister made this revelation.
If peaceful discussions had been held preliminarily, this religious place of worship could have been moved out from there, but this issue has been muddled and mucked up now by rabble rousers by their unwarranted misconduct, the Minister stated.
The Minister said, he was not associated with the construction or anything else of the mosque, and it was made known by the gazette notification.
While a meeting was held between the Government officials and the other party on this subject on April 23, Inamaluwe Thero leading a violent gang attacked the mosque on April 20, and deprived the chances of resolving this issue amicably, the Minister regretted.
The Minister also charged that the police could have easily controlled the ugly and violent situation triggered by these marauders, but the police dismally failed in its duty.
Meanwhile, UNP provincial Council member Mujibur Rahman addressing the media at Dambulla said, those who damaged the mosque are still scot free.
While no legal action is being taken against the wrongdoers, which is primary and paramount, just holding discussions on moving the mosque here and there is meaningless, he pointed out.
‘There is a big question mark as to which garbage bin the rule of law has been thrown into by the rulers if those who even destroy places of religious worship wantonly can live freely without being apprehended and punished. Meanwhile, the Daily Mirroir reported that the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Leader and Justice Minister Rauff Hakeem had said that he had discussed the Dambulla Mosque dispute with President Mahinda Rajapaksa and that he was confident it would be resolved with justice to all.
“The President assured me he would not let the dispute get out of hand and will resolve the contentious matter without harming the interests of any individual or community,” the Minister said
He rejected the claim by Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne that Muslim Ministers had agreed to relocate the mosque within the Dambulla sacred area and said the government must not let chauvinistic forces and extremists to use these disputes to create political, religious and social unrest in the country.
The minister said not a single Muslim political leader or politician had agreed for the relocation of the mosque as claimed by the Premier.
He said the United People’s Freedom Alliance (UPFA) government was strong because it enjoyed the support of nearly all minority parties.
“Therefore, the government is able to come out unscathed from this sensitive issue and do justice to all concerned.
The UPFA government is committed to safeguarding the interests of the minorities and the SLMC believes the government will not deviate from this position,” the minister said and singled out a particular FM channel for spreading false and fabricated propaganda with a chauvinistic flavour that gave vent to the protests by some extremist elements.
“If any one attempts to shift this mosque, which has existed since 1963 to another to another location will be considered as an unjust act, which goes against the sentiments of all Muslims in the country. We will not give into violence, intimidation or thuggery,” the minister said.
He said that there was the danger that even the global Muslim community which hither maintained a friendly relationship with Sri Lanka and even opposed the US resolution at the UNHRC sessions in March would look at Sri Lanka differently if something unnecessary or unwarranted happened over the Dambulla mosque.
“The SLMC and all Muslims without hesitation oppose moves to shift the mosque as it will result in dire consequences if anyone attempted to do so.
There is no compromise on this matter and there is no need to collect funds or beg for money to relocate the mosque,” the Minister said adding that a small section of extremist elements were attempting to tarnish the image of Sri Lanka and the government taking advantage of free speech, free association and the free media.
Lord Buddha preached loving kindness not only to all human beings, but to all living beings whether they be humans or any other form of living creatures. Buddhism abhors violence in any form and forbids it totally.
The true Buddhists, who practice their belief honestly would not subscribe to any form of violence or the hurting of the sentiments of others.
Buddhism is a philosophy that teaches that even the body of oneself does not belong to that person let alone land and other forms of property.
The three obstacles that hinder the path to Nirvana or supreme bliss, have been identified as Thanha(Greed or craving),Dvesha(Hatred or anger) and Moha (Stupidity or inability to see reality).
It is regrettable that some members of the Buddhist clergy appear to have not realised these basic tenets of Buddhism.
We, Sri Lankans of all creeds and races, whether they be Tamils, Muslims, Burghers or Malays practising Hinduism, Islam, Christianity or Buddhism have lived happily respecting each other’s creeds and traditions for quite a long period of time until some elements greedy for political power created dissension amongst us.
We have learnt bitter lessons in the past three decades regarding the dire consequences of our disunity and dissension.
It has been reported in the media that some places of religious worship of Christians have also been vandalised by hooligans in the recent past.
There are certain elements who want to create religious disharmony among communities which would result in racial riots thereby inviting foreign intervention which would spell disaster to our island nation.
When the writer was a student at the University of Colombo in 1963 a Tamil undergraduate from Nelliady, Karaveddi invited the writer and five other Sinhala undergraduates to visit his home and spend a week with him .
We reached Jaffna by night train and our friend took us home and every morning his mother used to make milk coffee and deliver to our rooms.
We bathed in Keerimalai Tank and a barber came to our friend’s residence to give us haircuts. We spent a very happy time with our Tamil friend and returned to Colombo.
Those were the good old days when Sri Lankans treated all other Sri Lankans as brothers and sisters. Those were great times indeed but alas what have we come to being at the present time?
Let all Sri Lankans hope and pray that sanity would prevail finally and that glorious day would soon dawn when all Sri Lankans could live in peace and harmony as in the distant past ensuring the unity of the Sri Lankan Nation.
Let me conclude as usual with an amusing anecdote. Before performing baptism, the priest approached the young father and said solemnly:
“Baptism is a serious step .Are you prepared for it?” “I think so,” replied the man, “My wife has been baking cakes all week and her mother is going to lay on a nice spread.”
“I don’t mean that” said the priest, “Are you prepared spiritually.” “Oh that silly me. Yes don’t worry. I also got a keg of beer and a case of whiskey.”