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Muttonhead Zahran and the theatrical professor

Saturday, 26 August 2023 00:08 –      – 33

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 Was Zahran, the muttonhead, a mere pawn in a broad game of geo-regional-racial politics? – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara 

 

If what the expert tells is right, this silly Zahran must really be a nut case isn’t? An idiot, a fool, a lunatic, an ignoramus, a half-wit to the nth degree. Moreover, the Muslim community at large did not even know this stupid fellow. Then, on whose behalf and with what authority can this muttonhead represent the entire Muslim population in his sick adventure? Which Muslim, in his proper senses had asked for or, wanted an Islamic state to be established in Sri Lanka? This is a country with majority Buddhists and the idea of an Islamic State is utter nonsense. It is beyond belief indeed and, something that Muslims with sanity will never accept

 

Was Zahran, the muttonhead, a mere pawn in a broad game of geo-regional-racial politics? A panel of cutting-edge researchers asked the question, “Did the “Islamic State” spring full-blown into spontaneous being as the fanatical scourge of the Middle East, or was it helped along by state sponsors?” (Read: ISIS is US: The Shocking Truth: Behind the Army of Terror).

‘Branding’ in marketing parlance “is the process of creating a strong, positive perception of products in the customer’s mind by a consistent theme throughout all marketing communications.” For the Muslim public ‘negative’ perception is seen as being subtly marketed using the Easter attack especially, with consistent emphasis on selected terminologies. In the diary dictated by Dr. Joseph Goebbels, Propaganda Minister for Hitler’s Third Reich are embedded Principles of Propaganda. One such is to, “Constantly repeat just a few ideas. Use stereotyped phrases.” Among others, it also says, “Pick out one special “enemy” for special vilification.” (Emphasis mine).

These days we are hearing, the resurgence of words like “Islamic Extremist”, “Wahhabi”, “Salafi-Jihadist”. And, some names like, “Zahran”, ‘Naufer”, etc. I do not know but, I am confused with the thought whether Goebbels is at work. For Goebbels, at that time, the target was the Jewish people. If Goebbels is at work today, then the Muslims are staring down the barrel of the gun.

Theatrics on rehabilitation

On the subject of rehabilitation, Professor Rohan Gunaratne may be knowing that there is no one-stop-shop or one-size-fits-all solution. From the age-old method of punishment of offenders in the form of retribution or as a deterrence, the idea of rehabilitation came into being on a more humanitarian approach. The objective being that the rehabilitated person can return to society and live a normal life as a law-abiding citizen. Therefore, rehabilitation is a very good process inclusive of multi-disciplines.

When a drug addict is sent for rehabilitation, he is not identified by his race, religion or ethnicity. Most importantly, he is not labelled, he is not publicly denounced or stigmatised. No one will notice if he went there or not except for his close circle. It is not the same when a loud noise is made pointing at members of a particular ethnicity and religion and demanding the offenders to be rehabilitated. Say, in a hall with a large audience or in the print or electronic media, using labels like Muslim extremists, jihadist and other clearly Islamophobic expressions. The impression that will be created in the minds of the public will tarnish and be prejudicial to the entire community, not only the offender.

The community to which he belongs to will be portrayed in a negative sense and as unsocial elements. Socio-psychological analysis will reveal that where offenders are identified with an ethnic group, the tendency is for the people of that whole community to be perceived as such. This would create disharmony in society and amongst peaceful citizens, as they will look at the other with suspicion.

 

Without merely whipping only the Muslims, it would do a lot of good for national security, peaceful co-existence and multicultural harmony if the Professori also focusses attention on the rehabilitation of ethno-nationalist terrorists, right-wing extremists and other religious extremists in Sri Lanka. They also have terrorised the Muslim and Christian peoples and have caused many deaths, destroyed innumerable properties, burnt down houses, business establishments, etc.

 

 

 

The objective or goal of rehabilitation begins from the platform where the dignity and respect of a person is given relevance. If not, it is not going to help in securing peace, co-existence and national security. On the other hand, ends up in isolating, discriminating and marginalising a set of patriotic people who have been living and loving this country for centuries.

Rehabilitate these radicals also

There is an inspirational quote whose author is unknown. It says, “Some have half-baked ideas because their ideals are not heated up enough.” When doing something, it is good to do a complete job. Else, it will be called a half-baked job. “Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), Ravana Balaya (RB) and Sihala Ravaya (SR) came into the limelight owing to their aggressive behaviour towards Muslims and Christian evangelical groups. Three highly dynamic and extremely aggressive activist monks began to dominate the public space. They are Rev. Galagodaatte Gnanasara, Rev. Ittekande Saddhatissa and Rev. Akmeemana Dayaratana. These three monks have emerged out of the recent radicalization of young Buddhist monks.” (Page 12, New Buddhist Extremism and the Challenges to Ethno-Religious Coexistence in Sri Lanka, Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri, ICES October 2016).

Dewasiri continues, “Rev. Gnanasara clashed with police and other officials at an expressway entrance when his vehicle was stopped. At one point of the heated argument, he shouted at expressway officials with the following words: “Make note you bastard!!! This piece of cloth is capable of even toppling governments”. Wow! An openly direct threat to national security and the law.

If the muttonhead Zahran is sighted as having attacked Sufi institutions for not conforming to pure Islam, the Buddhist extremists too have attacked with similar intentions. At page 17, Dewasiri writes, “The new extremist Buddhist organizations assumed the task of distinguishing “true” and authentic Buddhist practices from “false” and unauthentic practices, and justified their violent behaviour towards “false” and “unauthentic” Buddhist elements in terms of re-installing “true” and “authentic” Buddhism.” (ibid).

Rise of Buddhist extremism

Under the title, ‘Radicalization of Young Buddhist Monks’ the researcher notes: “The backbone of the new Buddhist extremism was the new generation of young radical monks. The front pages of newspapers often carried photographs of young Buddhist monks showing intensely aggressive behaviour at public demonstrations. They also showed the significance of the young Buddhist monks as a radical political force. (Page 25, ibid).

In the Parliamentary Select Committee appointed following the Easter Sunday attack, it was reported on 23 October 2019 that, “Several attacks on the Muslim minority community were reported starting from Mawanella riots in 2001, Aluthgama riots in 2014, Gintota riots in 2017, Ampara and Digana 2018 and in parts of the North Western Province in May 2019. The ongoing victimisation by certain extremists in the Buddhist community over the years fed into the growth of radicalization and extremism in the Muslim community as per the evidence.” (Page 93).

Written on your skin

Bias and prejudice are part of human nature and, however much a person tries to hide his prejudices and portray himself as independent, the tongue slips. When the tongue slips it becomes apparent to the listener.

Interesting anecdotes support this idea. “Jurors in the State of Washington are three times more likely to recommend a death sentence for a black defendant than for a white defendant in a similar case. (Prof. K. Beckett, Univ. of Washington, 2014). In 96% of States in the US, where there have been reviews of race and the death penalty, there was a pattern of either race-of-victim or race-of-defendant discrimination, or both. (Prof. Baldus report to the ABA, 1998).

I remember reading somewhere this quote, “Imagine a world where what you think is written on your skin”.

Epistemologically dualist

“Muslims are a diverse mix of ethnicities, religious and theological affiliations, philosophical beliefs, political persuasions, secular tendencies, languages and cultural traditions.” (Mapping Anti-Muslim Hatred and Its Impact on Freedom of Religion or Belief University of Essex Human Rights Centre Clinic). I am wondering whether the Professori demonstrates awareness of this diversity or is preoccupied with a binary view of Wahhabi and Sufi. So, much for the shallow understanding, lack of context and the epistemologically dualist vision of a complex state of affairs which encompasses multi-disciplinary sciences like general sociology, sociology of religion, global politics, socio-psychology, social anthropology, criminology, Islamic concept of Tawhid, human rights, etc.

 

Rationality and common sense

We are given to understand by the expert Professori that Zahran wanted to establish an Islamic State in Sri Lanka and that he wanted to wage war. Most importantly that Zahran wanted to be the leader of the Islamic State in Sri Lanka. I am neither an ‘expert’ in terrorism nor learned as the Professori but, my common sense begs a simple question and, that is, “if Zahran wanted to establish an Islamic State in Sri Lanka by waging war and be the leader of Islamic State, why the hell did he kill himself?”

We had Rohana Wijeweera and Velupillai Prabhakaran as leaders of armed groups but they did not kill themselves. In fact, Prabhakaran had the most dreaded suicide squad but never became a suicide bomber himself. Kamikaze pilots were Japanese military who flew suicide missions against Allied naval vessels in the Pacific theatre of World War II. The Emperor of Japan did not kill himself. Palestinian suicide bombers killed themselves but not the leaders of Palestine.

If what the expert tells is right, this silly Zahran must really be a nut case isn’t? An idiot, a fool, a lunatic, an ignoramus, a half-wit to the nth degree. Moreover, the Muslim community at large did not even know this stupid fellow. Then, on whose behalf and with what authority can this muttonhead represent the entire Muslim population in his sick adventure? Which Muslim, in his proper senses had asked for or, wanted an Islamic state to be established in Sri Lanka? This is a country with majority Buddhists and the idea of an Islamic State is utter nonsense. It is beyond belief indeed and, something that Muslims with sanity will never accept.

Why only Muslims?

“Terrorism is the calculated use of violence to create a general climate of fear in a population and thereby to bring about a particular political objective. Terrorism has been practiced by political organizations with both rightist and leftist objectives, by nationalistic and religious groups, by revolutionaries, and even by state institutions such as armies, intelligence services, and police. Definitions of terrorism are usually complex and controversial. The term in its popular usage has developed an intense stigma.” (Britannica)

The Presidential Commission of Inquiry (PCOI) reported on 31 January 2021 that “Between 2012 and 2015 there was a rise in Buddhist extremism due to the actions of the BBS.” (Page 464). Moreover, the PCOI stated at page 367, “The COI examined the information available on certain Buddhist and other religious organisations. The COI recommends that the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) be proscribed…”

Without merely whipping only the Muslims, it would do a lot of good for national security, peaceful co-existence and multicultural harmony if the Professori also focusses attention on the rehabilitation of ethno-nationalist terrorists, right-wing extremists and other religious extremists in Sri Lanka. They also have terrorised the Muslim and Christian peoples and have caused many deaths, destroyed innumerable properties, burnt down houses, business establishments, etc.

It will then show that Sri Lanka respects “universal human rights, rule of law and equality principles that must be upheld at all times and under all circumstances.”

(The writer holds an LL. B (Hons) U.K., and is an Attorney at Law. He is also ex-Advisor to the former Presidential Private Department of UAE. He can be reached via email at: ctcolumn@yahoo.com.)

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