Isolated incidents can send wrong signals
The tense situation that erupted
in Dambulla over the construction of a mosque was most unfortunate. Such
untoward incidents, resorted to by a handful of mischievous elements,
could send the wrong signals to the international community.
The situation was, however, defused due to the Government's swift
action. Else, disgruntled elements could have exploited it to fan
communal unrest. On the other hand, it could also provide 'ammunition'
to the LTTE rump to show the world that their allegations about
discrimination against the minorities in Sri Lanka are justified.
If one were to peruse news reports in the international media and the
web, it could be seen how these incidents have been blown out of
proportion. People overseas are unaware of the actual ground situation
in Sri Lanka and the peaceful coexistence that prevails among all
communities. Foreigners browsing such news items, especially Muslims
around the world, could get a wrong impression about the incidents. This
is precisely what the anti-Sri Lanka elements both here and abroad seek.
All communities, including the Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims and
Burghers have lived in peaceful coexistence over many centuries,
irrespective of caste and religious affiliations. This has been the real
situation for centuries, although those with vested interests and INGO
agents make a desperate attempt to project a different picture.
Hence, it's deplorable that some anti-social elements are trying to
take undue advantage of what transpired in Dambulla. Isolated incidents
of this nature give a totally different picture.
The Government took steps to stop construction work on the mosque
within the sacred area of the Rangiri Dambulu Vihara and decided to
construct a mosque at another suitable location in Dambulla. Steps will
be taken to build a mosque in Dambulla and all facilities would be
provided to the Muslim community to conduct their Islamic religious
Had it not been for the timely intervention of law-enforcement
officials to enlighten people in the area and those who planned to come
in their numbers from adjoining areas, the situation would have
The Muslim community in Sri Lanka has, over the years, lived in amity
with the Sinhalese and Tamils. A peace-loving community, they have made
a significant contribution to the country's national well-being even
from the post-Independence era. Muslims in the North and the East had
been at the receiving end during the height of LTTE terror.
LTTE terrorists drove Muslims out of their traditional settlements in
the North. Having eradicated LTTE terror through the Security Forces'
immense sacrifices, the Muslims, Tamils and Sinhalese began a new life
under one banner.
It is the prime duty of the majority Sinhalese to protect and assure
the well-being of their fellow Muslims and Tamils. At a time when the
international community is keeping a close eye on Sri Lanka's
reconciliation, it devolves on the Sinhala Buddhists to demonstrate
their rich cultural tradition-by their meritorious deeds they could
prove that they are true followers of the Buddha's teachings.
It was indeed unfortunate that people residing in Dambulla had to
experience such an untoward situation over a mosque. Instead of
quarrelling with one another over erecting a Buddha statue or
constructing a mosque, it would be far better if the followers of these
two great religions conduct themselves in an exemplary manner. One's
religious faith bears out one's character and not one's external
appearance. This is the crux of the Buddha's great teachings or any
other religion for that matter.
People should work for the well-being of their brethren rather than
merely talk to show others that they are adherents of their respective
religions. If a person conducts himself in an exemplary manner in
keeping with his religious beliefs, others would naturally get a better
impression of that person's religion. Hence, it behoves us to conduct
ourselves in an exemplary manner rather than seeking cover under one's
religion for one's personal glory.
Extremist elements too could have literally gone to town over the
Dambulla incident, but could the country be robbed of the hard-earned
peace gained amidst insurmountable difficulties? Thanks to the
sacrifices on the part of the Security Forces Sri Lanka annihilated
terrorism. Although three years have elapsed after the LTTE leadership
was vanquished, certain countries are still trying to take Sri Lanka to
task. In such a scenario could the country suffer more communal
On the other hand, it would also adversely affect Sri Lanka's forward
march. The country has made steady progress in all spheres, especially
in resettlement, development and national reconciliation. Moreover, over
half a million people who had been resettled after the humanitarian
operation have been given a new lease of life, thereby contributing to
the national economy.
All these efforts would prove futile, if extremist elements were to
put their secret agendas in motion. By projecting themselves as diehard
Buddhists, they could still attempt to spark communal unrest over
trivial incidents. All patriotic and peace-loving citizens should be
ever vigilant over those who attempt to mar the peaceful coexistence of
Sinhalese, Muslims and Tamils.
At the same time, opportunist politicians too could seek political
mileage through these unfortunate incidents. Such incidents could prompt
certain politicians to show extreme faith in their respective religions
and communities to gain political mileage. People should not fall prey
to these opportunists who seek advantage under the guise of religion.
It is the bounden duty of all Sri Lankans to protect the hard-earned
peace and contribute towards national reconciliation. At a time when
certain countries and international organisations are looking for
opportunities to tarnish Sri Lanka's image, all citizens have a
responsibility of giving a better value to the immense sacrifices made
by the true sons of our soil.
The liberation of the country from the jaws of terrorism by the
Security Forces in the world's largest human rescue mission should be
made more meaningful. The Sinhalese, as the majority community, must
extend their solidarity towards the Tamils and Muslims in the national
reconciliation effort. If this could be achieved, no force on earth or
in the international fora could level wild allegations that the
minorities in Sri Lanka are being discriminated against.
Sri Lanka belongs to all communities since the Tamil and Muslim
leaders too have been stakeholders in the country's independence
struggle, along with their fellow Sinhala leaders.