Not In Our Name: 1,400+ signatures against religious extremism in Sri Lanka
Not In My Name (NION) ran from 27th April to 31st May 2012. The blog was created and launched late on the 26th, just under a week after a violent attack on a mosque in Dambulla, led by Buddhist monks. At the time, the situation was very volatile. Islandwide, despite appeals for calm, there was real concern as to what would happen after jumma on the 28th. NION was an attempt to showcase that the violence in Dambulla, and any religious extremism, was simply unacceptable and by doing so, serve as a bulwark against the spread of violence that Friday, and beyond.
Sadly, given attacks against mosques even around Colombo, and as noted by many who have signed up, attacks against churches in the past, it is clear the violence in Dambulla signifies growing religious intolerance in Sri Lanka. On the other hand, out of over 1,400 comments in English, Sinhala and Tamil, there are a number that quite clearly reveal Sri Lankans who are appalled by this violence.
We’ve captured on Storify some of the most interesting comments in English. Email updates sent during the past month have also highlighted some key comments.
The diversity of individuals who signed up to NION is revealing, and range from a former President of Sri Lanka to a father who signed up so that his children would know he was not silent in the face of growing militant religious extremism. There are leading academics, thespians, popular singers, TV presenters, directors, activists, signatories from every major community and more, bloggers, writers, poets and many others. Some are very well known. Many are not.
As noted on the blog, the names and comments of those who signed up will be printed out and sent to the Presidential Secretariat, the Prime Minister’s Office and the Ministry of Religious Affairs & Moral Upliftment, along with the Department of Buddhist Affairs, Department of Christian Religious Affairs, Department of Hindu Religious and Cultural Affairs and the Department of Muslim Religious and Cultural Affairs.
A copy will also be sent to the Chief Prelate of the Dambulla temple.
All the comments from the English, Tamil and Sinhala versions of the statement have now been uploaded as PDFs to Scribd and embedded below. Obviously, they are also permanently archived on the NION site itself. The PDFs on Scribd can be downloaded and embedded on other sites.
NION didn’t save any lives. During the four weeks it was open for comments, there were more attacks against mosques, right in the heart of Colombo. It is unclear what the response of the President was to the imbroglio in Dambulla. The inability and unwillingness of government to unequivocally condemn religious extremism (the government’s official press release over the Dambulla incident, release days after the violence, called it a ‘minor misunderstanding’) directly contributes to increasing bigotry and a language of hate and harm against Islam in particular, which is thriving online in fora like Facebook groups.
Over 1,400 comments on NION serve as a counterpoint to this growing hate. They are worth fully reading, never forgetting and often repeating.