The Muslim people around the world are witnessing the continuing injustice committed against the Palestinian people for the past over 60 years by the atrocities of the successive Israeli Governments. They see the bullying of the Islamic Republic of Iran with multiple sanctions for refusing to dance to the tune of Uncle Sam. In the list is also the gradual dismantling and destruction of several Muslim countries by proxy wars. All of these exploits at the loss of literally millions of lives and the destruction of properties worth billions of dollars.
In the Xinjiang Region in Northwest China, they are aware of the persecution of the Uyghur Muslims, where one million people have been put in detention camps. The world Media broadcast the genocide against the Rohingya people in Rakhine State, Myanmar and the mass-scale displacement of up to 700,000 victims.
Specifically writing in the context of U.S. involvement in various hotspots, Dr. Yasir Qadhi observes, “From the illegal invasion of Iraq to the foolish military endeavours in Afghanistan, from Abu Ghraib to Guantanamo, from the ‘War on Terror’ to the ‘Patriot Act,’ it became easier to convince an impressionable mind into accepting the West versus Islam paradigm.” (The Lure of Radicalism and Extremism Amongst Muslim Youth).
Arrogance of power
This hostility is perceived by a majority of Muslims world over as a universal war against Islam and the Muslims. The sad part being the impression that there is no one to help or depend on but themselves. The United Nations, the watchdog for world governance, is helpless at times. Resolutions passed against violating Nations are either vetoed by their power-wielding defenders or, is blatantly ignored by the violating country.
For example, in 2018, the United Nations General Assembly issued 27 condemnations against its member countries and 21 of them were against Israel, thereby making it the most condemned Nation, among other things, for gross human rights violations. Despite its pariah status, the United States had arrogantly used its veto power 43 times to throw out resolutions to protect Israel. A careful analysis, in reality, reveals the truism in the Muslim belief that there is no voice to speak against or no one to stand up to challenge the hegemonistic adventures of the United States, her allies in Europe and the other countries.
Sri Lankan analogy
To some extent, similarities between the global situation and the local context can be established. In Sri Lanka, the Muslims have been systematically targeted by anti-Muslim and anti-Islam hate and violence, since the closure of the LTTE campaign. The racist elements are relentlessly poisoning the minds of the Sinhala masses, by tarnishing the image of Muslims. Their propaganda abounds with fabricated lies, misinterpretations, disinformation, and exaggerations.
Some of the temples and mushroom organisations under various names have partnered in this endeavour with fervour and vigour. The monks have no qualms in acrimoniously making false allegations, insulting the religion, religious institutions, the devotees, the Holy Scripture and the learned scholars.
The Media craftily, deceitfully and tirelessly mounts assaults at the Muslims on an almost daily basis. The politicians have on many occasions expressed themselves hurting the feelings of the Muslims. Bring to mind the number of times the Muslims have suffered under violent extremism, the subsequent loss of lives and properties.
Tragically, pandering Muslim politicians have not been of much help towards the community as a whole. The religious leadership is weak and unable to do much either. Here is a situation where there is no powerful voice to speak against this onslaught or no one to stand up to challenge the chauvinism. Would not the disillusioned youth ask themselves who is going to defend us, our lives and our properties if not, we, ourselves? What benefit is this country going to reap by marginalising communities? Will not a sad, helpless and disheartened young mind be an easy pick to those engaged in the global theatre of indoctrination and violence?
Discrimination and oppression
The ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement is a natural reaction to years of discrimination, hate and bigotry against the African-American people. These eruptions, when it happens, cannot be suppressed or controlled. They come out on the basis of, ‘no one to speak for us, we ought to defend our own selves.’ It is inherent in man to struggle against injustice, discrimination and oppression. The revulsion within man when his natural rights, freedom and equality are suppressed blows up at some point of time. This is nothing new and history is replete wh such incidents.
By the intervention of Providence, the coronavirus taught the entire world a lesson. We need to seriously reflect and pay heed to it. It had a clear message that all are human beings and that all belong to one human kind. How much more ignorant can anyone be in not realising this simple message of truth?
Consider this for a moment. Last year, the Muslim women who were wearing the face cover were unreasonably and vindictively harassed. The racio-politically motivated abuse of Emergency Regulation powers by the security apparatus, politicians and religious establishments succeeded in banning the face cover. A part of a woman’s choice to dress, which had no connection or relevance to the Easter Sunday Bombings.
PPE and face cover
Regulation was hastily passed banning the covering of face, as if it was at the top of the list of national security priorities. Notices were seen overnight at most public places, with a picture of a woman with face cover ‘Do Not Enter’; Prohibited. Thereby, openly exhibiting arrogance and callous disregard to the beliefs and practices of a person. Also, violation of the fundamental rights of a person. Every person who used to wear the face mask felt isolated and shunned by society. Then, the coronavirus forced the very same people to wear face masks. This time, the notices were ‘Entry Only for those wearing the mask.’
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which consists of face protection, goggles and mask or face shield, gloves, gown or coverall, head cover, rubber boots were worn by the doctors, nurses, Police, armed forces etc. As the person is fully covered, it had been reported that the name of the person wearing the PPE was sometimes written on the back to identify the person.
Let us look at the spurious claims that were put forward at the time of banning the face cover.
• It was a high security risk.
• Cannot see the full face of the person.
• Cannot identify whether male or female.
• Social interaction is hindered.
• Cannot see facial expressions.
• The person wearing it is purposely avoiding interaction.
With COVID-19, all of the above unsubstantiated claims either vanished or became applicable to them also. It would have been an absolute joke if the emergency regulations were still in force. The reason being the particular regulation will have to be revoked by another regulation, this time making it a mandatory requirement to wear the face mask.
We must realise that racism, inequality and injustice are not sustainable. What is enduring is humanity. Therefore, let us not be divided amongst ourselves. Let us be united, help each other and work towards building this country.
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Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect World Forum for Sri Lankan Muslims (wfslm.org) point-of-view.