ANTI-MUSLIM EXTREMISM & DILEMMAS OF DIVERSITY IN SRI LANKA

Dilemmas of diversity, postwar identity and nation building (14)

Opening presentation at 2nd in Discussion series on Constitutional Reform organized by The Liberal Party)

Having come out of the war, a war which I for one am glad the Sri Lankan State won, Sri Lanka as a State and a society had one of several directions in which it could go. Whilst being happy that the war ended with a certain outcome, we could have asked ourselves why we had the war in the first place. Why thirty years of conflict? What needs to be done to prevent such conflict? To the extent that that question had been asked, it seems to me that the answer –and I do not mean only within the Government but outside in civil society as well– has been that the way to prevent another cycle of conflict is to tighten up, to pre-empt, and to securitize. I am Realist enough to admit that, that in certain areas it is necessary to be more vigilant in security and strategic terms– but the fundamental lesson has not been learned, and that lesson is that we have not been able to formulate, forge, construct, call it what you will, a social contract among the constituent components of our citizenry.

The topic of discussion this evening is “The dilemmas of diversity, reconciliation and post-war nation building”. The term dilemma implies that the matter is not simple. Why is the matter not simple? Because there are certain specificities, certain exceptionalities, that have to be taken into account. One such specificity is that the island of Sri Lanka is indeed the only place in which there are Sinhalese, those who speak the Sinhalese language in any significantly large number. We do talk about better ordered and fairer societies such as Singapore where there are 75% of Chinese but then there are a billion Chinese in China. As far as the Sinhalese are concerned, this island is home and this is the only place they can call home. This is a reality.

What does this mean? Does this mean that the island belongs solely to the Sinhalese? Does it mean that it belongs primarily to the Sinhalese and that everybody else has to put up with being second class citizens, whether it is legally, constitutionally or in actual fact? Is that the nature of the only social contract that can issue from the specificity that I spoke of? I do not think so, not only because it is wrong but also because it won’t work and because it is not desirable.

Much depends on how one views diversity. This is almost a commonplace: the idea that diversity is a resource. The more variegated we are, the richer we are. But this is not an idea that has been propagated successfully among the masses of our people. It is an idea that is been limited to an urban hothouse as it were. But this is an idea that has to be disseminated because the flip side of that, which is the attitude and practice of considering only one’s own ethnic, ethno-lingual or ethno-religious community as the nation, has the same result as inbreeding has in any family. What has been going on is cultural inbreeding and an advocacy or upholding of cultural inbreeding as some form of authenticity or purity. The consequence of this has been cycle upon cycle of conflict issuing from a sense of mutual alienation.

If one is able to recognize that diversity means richness and richness is a resource, then one would look very differently at the matrix or the mosaic that is Sri Lankan society. This is yet to become the preponderant view.

So the war having ended in a victory over separatism, the spirit of separatism still lives –and I do not mean in the form of what Government spokesmen inelegantly call “the LTTE rump”. What I mean is that the spirit of separating ones connectivity from The Other continues. When I came upon the propaganda against the Muslim community in recent years and months, I was reminded about that old joke “it’s déjà vu all over again” because it is exactly the same stuff that was out there before July ‘83. So the comparison is not today with July ‘83, it is with what led to July ’83, it is the run up to July ‘83. I refer to the years from ‘77 to ‘83, a period covered by the Sansoni Commission, the violence of ‘77, ‘79, ‘81 and finally the massive explosion of 1983. The road to July ‘83 was paved, prepared, though perhaps not intended in that form, by anti-Tamil propaganda. At the time, it came from within the Government. You had anti-Tamil propaganda with illustrations being sent out in envelopes with a stamp of the then Minister of Industry, Mr. Cyril Mathew. It is the same kind of toxic waste material that is being put out today against the Muslim community, though not officially, not from within the government. I am not saying that it would have the same result, but it could.

I am particularly worried, anxious, that the current wave of the anti-Muslim propaganda is on population growth rates. Why this makes me worry is that violence in such a context would not be preeminently anti-property but anti-persons, because if the name of the game is numbers, and rates of population growth, and the number of children that the Other has, then any violence is bound to seek to address that particular problem. In other words, the solution would be seen as one of an ethnic cleansing or ethno-religious cleansing.

I am happy just as Rajiva is, that President Rajapaksa did what he did and said what he did on the subject. Then again I also remember that in 1981, not ‘83 but ‘81, President Jayewardene condemned the violence that had taken place in the Hill country. I remember his speech in which he talked of a “crisis of civilization”. This was in ‘81 not in ‘83 but it could not and did not stop the slide to violence. So as John F. Kennedy use to say “Never mind what he says, watch his hands”. It can be said that there are no majority and minorities, but then watch their hands. Is that the way policy is formulated and implemented? Is it really the case that there are no majority and minorities? I am quite unconvinced of this.

I am not going to continue in the vein of a normative sermon of what is wrong or right because I am not the person to tell you that. Why would one listen to my view of what one should do? I will content myself by talking about what is strategically and diplomatically prudent and what is strategically and diplomatically suicidal. There are certain things that should not be done, not only because it is the wrong thing to do, not only because it is morally and ethically abhorrent but because it is also stupidly counter-productive to do. Similarly there are certain things that should be done not only because it is the right thing to do but because it is a strategic imperative.

Deriving from the specificity of the Sinhalese and their situation on the island of Sri Lanka, you can go either way: either an exclusionary solution that imposes itself on others or comprehension that the strategic imperative is to avoid isolation. If you start off by saying that we Sinhalese are just 15 million people and that there is nowhere else where there are such concentrations of Sinhalese, no other country but this, then certain other things have to follow. It has to be recognized that there are 70 million Tamils in Tamil Nadu and another 10 million elsewhere, there are one billion adherents of Islamic faith in the world, and there are two billion Christians around the world. Of course it is not the case that one billion Muslims or 70 million Tamils are going to invade Sri Lanka, but a shift in stance of even 0.1% of those very large numbers out there in the world would make Sri Lanka’s situation and that of the Sinhalese, strategically untenable. This is my contention as a Realist, but this reality is sadly not understood.

Domestically, those who conduct the anti-Islamic propaganda are also those who are opposed to devolution, but they do not seem to understand that if Muslim sentiments were to shift away from the Sinhalese, there would automatically be a shift to a Tamil speaking majority in the Eastern Province. The anti-Muslim elements do not seem to understand that in the diplomatic arena Sri Lanka has always counted on the support of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, and that those States constitute a very important factor in many UN and multilateral fora.

Look at the neighborhood. We already have a problematic relationship with India to the extent that it voted against Sri Lanka at the UN HRC in Geneva last year. A drive against the Muslims, perhaps not on the part of the State, but on the part of Sinhala extremists, would hardly contribute positively to our relations with Pakistan, which stood by us consistently during decades of war. I am not sure how intelligent it is to have troubled relations with two of our neighbors. Of course there is also the factor of the revenue that comes in from the Middle East job market.

Even if for pragmatic, strategic reasons, it has to be understood by the State and by society that the anti-Muslim surge is profoundly counterproductive and almost suicidal. It will only lead to further isolation of the country and of the majority Sinhalese. The minorities who are seen by Sinhala extremists as Trojan horses are in fact the bridges between the Sinhalese and the outside world, given that there is no other collectivity or concentration of Sinhalese elsewhere (except in the Diaspora in relatively insignificant numbers). The Muslims, the Tamils, the Hindus, the Catholics, all of these are the points of intersection between the Sinhala Buddhist majority of Sri Lanka and the world outside. They are the bridges and if those bridges are burned the Sinhala heartland will find itself isolated– which ironically, is exactly the situation in which those hostile to Sri Lanka want to place the State and the Sinhalese!

In conclusion, I would like to pose a question: which way can we go? It is not very helpful to see this as a struggle between the bad State and good civil society because the political history of Sri Lanka –certainly post independence – has been one in which elements of civil society have played a far more retrogressive and reactionary role than the State itself, and when the State has taken those positions it has been due to the pronounced and prolonged pressure from the most chauvinist elements within civil society. Mr. S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike did not advocate Sinhala only when he founded his party in 1951, nor did he do so when his party contested elections for the first time in 1952. He did so only in 1955 when the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress set up the Buddhist Commission to coincide with the Buddha Jayanthi, and put out a report ostensibly on the rights of the Buddhists but actually made pronouncements on the status of the Sinhalese Buddhists and the Sinhala language.

It is from within civil society that these ideas have sprung and it is also within civil society that the battle will have to be waged– and not only, not simply, against the State, or against a political leadership. This is a battle of ideas, of consciousness, that has to be waged within the State and within civil society. Both State and civil society have to be viewed not as antipodes but as terrains of contestation.

Dilemmas of diversity, postwar identity and nation building (18)

I return once again to the reality of Sri Lanka being the only place on the planet where the Sinhala language is spoken by a large collectivity and where those who consider themselves of Sinhalese ethnicity constitute a majority. That is axiomatic. If so what are the solutions?

One is that of equal rights in every sense, constitutionally and legally. Certainly I am for it because I find it abhorrent that there should be any form of discrimination. What we have today in our constitution, which is something that was introduced in ‘72 and retained by Mr. Jayewardene in the ‘78 Constitution, is structural discrimination, where one language and one religion, in a multilingual and multi-religious social formation, are given a privileged place. Would the populace be ready to level that playing field, to return – or go forward– to what I call Soulbury Plus, that is the Soulbury Constitution with a stronger safeguard against discrimination? I would like to think that it would be the case, but I doubt that it would be so.

If that is not a viable option, then we have the solution of the autonomy at the peripheries. There again, there is the fear of a centrifugal motion where by an autonomous province would or could secede over time.

I was one who was very skeptical about this domino theory, or this theory of an escalation ladder, until recently when the issues of Scotland and Catalan independence in Spain came up, where even within a non-federal system, devolution has over time not stopped separatism but actually fed into demands for a separate independent State. I am not saying that devolution automatically does so, but we have to recognize that there are problems, dangers, legitimate threat perceptions.

If so, then I think what we need is a hybrid or mixed solution where if we cannot guarantee absolute equality of citizenship in the Constitution, we should build in very strong anti-discriminatory legislation. I think it is easier to do that than to say that we are going to remove the privileged place of Buddhism. It is easier to set up institutions which have teeth and which would be a watchdog (hopefully a pit-bull or bulldog) against discrimination. We can also defend notions of provincial autonomy which are centripetal and not centrifugal. One really must have a policy mix. To me, it is the only ethically appropriate and strategically prudent way to go.

  • Burning_Issue

    It has taken him nearly 4 years since the end of the war for DR DJ to come to the inevitable realization that indeed the MR regime needs to be countered! Though he has not directly attacked the regime; it is better than nothing. I have been somewhat critical of the good DR in the past; hoping that he was being a ‘Gerry Adams’ in that, one is in it to change course. However, DR cannot be ‘Gerry Adams’ as he has never been quite in it in the first place.

    I have read this article with great interest and concur with everything that has been said. However, many political points pertinent to the interest of Sri Lanka that have been made by appeasing to the Sinhala Buddhists. Nevertheless, I think that DR has to take that tone to make an impact. I rather would have liked his arguments to be in farvour of equality in every sense based on humanity and common decency as opposed to based on sensitivities of the Sinhala Buddhist and their security. My point is that absolute equality would safeguard the majority and the country as a whole by default.

    “One is that of equal rights in every sense, constitutionally and legally. Certainly I am for it because I find it abhorrent that there should be any form of discrimination. What we have today in our constitution, which is something that was introduced in ‘72 and retained by Mr. Jayewardene in the ‘78 Constitution, is structural discrimination, where one language and one religion, in a multilingual and multi-religious social formation, are given a privileged place. Would the populace be ready to level that playing field, to return – or go forward– to what I call Soulbury Plus, that is the Soulbury Constitution with a stronger safeguard against discrimination? I would like to think that it would be the case, but I doubt that it would be so.”

    What a paragraph DR; I salute you on this unreservedly. I, as a Tamil, am all in favour of Soulbury plus idea; if this is achieved, gradually, there will be no apatite for devolution let alone separatism! Are the Sinhala Buddhists ready for this? The ball certainly is on their side of the court; over to you folks.

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Dr. Jayatilleke,

    I was amazed at how you could start with an argument for the need to forge a new social contract but end up with the notion that we should not contest constitutional inequality!

    To state that “very strong anti-discriminatory legislation” should be instituted as a substitute to “absolute equality of citizenship” is mind boggling in the face of the recent illegal impeachment of the CJ and appointment of the new Thief Justice, the banning of the Tamil version of the Sri Lankan national anthem, non-implementation of existing anti-discriminatory laws and a legislature infected with rabid racism!

    Considering that your argument is based on following a “pragmatic” approach, pray tell who would legislate “very strong anti-discriminatory legislation”? Let’s not even talk about implementation.

    If human rights was about what is “easy” rather than principle, then your pragmatism (btw, spoken on behalf of others) may have some merit. But I thought your presentation was made at a forum on constitutional REFORM? When arguing for pluralism and “equality in every sense”, to cave in even before the battle (in this round) for equality has begun, is not only cowardice but a cynical attempt at maintaining the status-quo!

    And here’s the real kick in the teeth, this is presented as the “ethically appropriate” way to go. For a self-professed anti-imperialist and anti-colonialist I presume the irony of your proposition cannot be completely oblivious to yourself; or can it?

    You are going to have to be a whole lot more coherent and consistent if you want anyone to believe that you have actually made a shift towards a more progressive perspective. I for one am very afraid of shape-shifters.

    Regards
    GTBP

    • alex

      Good point – the contradictions are astounding. Clearly the author is clearly a ‘complicated individual’. Having said that, and who say’s he isn’t useful to MR, GR and their goon squad … above is the blue print for the Rajapakse regime’s position for the next 5 UNHCR sessions. Sadly for them, and thankfully for Sri Lankans, no-one believes a word the regime says anymore.

  • Off the Cuff

    Dear Readers,

    Equality of citizenship is a sine qua non in a pluralist society like ours but I see three primary hurdles in achieving it.

    1. The claim to disproportionate and exclusive use of Land

    2. The very long history of Buddhism being identified with the ruling royalty so much so that the possession of the Tooth Relic became identified as legitimising the power to rule.

    3. The fact that the British recognised but reneged on their undertaking to protect Buddhism which till then enjoyed a position of primacy, which Chapter 2 Clause 9 has restored. Due to this reason the majority of Buddhists believe that an injustice was corrected (not created).

    Chapter 2 Clause 9.
    The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).

    Dr DJ says “If so, then I think what we need is a hybrid or mixed solution where if we cannot guarantee absolute equality of citizenship in the Constitution, we should build in very strong anti-discriminatory legislation. I think it is easier to do that than to say that we are going to remove the privileged place of Buddhism. It is easier to set up institutions which have teeth and which would be a watchdog (hopefully a pit-bull or bulldog) against discrimination. We can also defend notions of provincial autonomy which are centripetal and not centrifugal. One really must have a policy mix. To me, it is the only ethically appropriate and strategically prudent way to go”

    I too believe that this will be the only pragmatic and possible solution, given the Reality of a steam roller majority of Buddhists who the Sangha and organisations such as the JHU can mobilise in a snap, if any attempt is made to change that part of the constitution.

  • sinhala_voice

    I would like to make these points as a Sinhala person of Buddhist world view :

    1. As a person the above I don’t want the so called foremost place for Buddhism as specified in the constitution, because for one it is never practiced from the day it was introduced. It is a meaningless , feel good statement that is of no use to the Buddhist or Buddhism. We have had the opportunity to live under at least 200 years where we under foreign rule and the Sinhalese managed to safe guard Buddhism and the ethos. So now we got even more opportunity without using the above statement.

    2. Your statement about the fact that Sinhala people and the language existing in any significant numbers only in Sri Lanka is absolutely correct. This needs to taken into account if and when a new constitution is formed and if and when a proper devolution structure within a UNITARY STATE is formed. Here UNITARY means ALL ETHNIC, SUB-ETHNIC(Caste), Worldview (Religions) groups have the same rights and responsibilities throughout the country Sri Lanka. In terms of Buddhism, the greatest contribution to the world by the Sinhalese is the documentation of Buddhist Sutras which were handed down up to that time vocally, to the put it on Ola Leaf in Matale. Otherwise, I doubt much would have survived up to today.

    3. Sinhalese I doubt would have any problem accepting individual equality. and anti discriminatory legislation as long as they are properly informed and made aware of the process. Once again it is not the Sinhala people BUT those Sri Lankan politicans or Sinhala origin that form the questions in such way that the response it obvious.

    4. There has to be 2 house popularly elected perhaps using different election methods . For example : lower house preferential first past the post and a upper house proportional provincial basis.

    5. Independent , merit based national and provincial public service.
    6.Independent , accountable judicary.
    7.A simple constitution that is broad and guide to legislation and not to be used as an operational manual to manipulate power.
    8.Less powerful executive president.
    9.People should be taught in their own language and English. At least teach science and mathematics in English to begin with as well as technologies.

    TO those people who complain about Buddhism being given the foremost place, Can you mention one piece of legislation that has gone through the parliament that is discriminatory to Tamils, Hindus, Muslims, Christian and/or any other ?????

    All three languages are recognised today in the constitution. That is Tamil , English and Sinhala.

    Are there any place in the constitution that say that Sinhala person is superior to a Tamil or Muslim ?

    Are there any place that say that Sinhala people are to get first opportunity before any other specified in the constitution…

    I am bit confused about these points ….

  • Jayalath

    A great thought , and rational approach . It is seeming that crisis is remaining at the edge of knife .doesnt matter still some of us we are alive ., thinking of we are here today because of our great ancestors survived terrible ice age being in the caves along human history . So , shall we start to rebuild our crumbling society of fighting for the religion and race ?
    Thanks Mr. Dayan . You have well explain the rift between Muslim and singhalese . Which is great , you have given a good start , therefore it is important us to maintain the consistency . without doing dodgy things .
    It is not going to be an easy campaign but it is imperative .

    What we have to understand the reality to prevent further conflicts . This is not peculiar only to us ,this change is the trend of world . Safe guard our future .

  • Jayalath

    Our great ancestors may not have ever thought that one day their descenders will ever struggle to think to end the game in this way , what they have preserved in keeping thrir lives risk. but as we believe the nature , every living thing is bound to change constantly in term of time . What we are here to discuss today to practise the eternal harmony and peace of our mother land .

  • dingiri

    “The fact that the British recognised but reneged on their undertaking to protect Buddhism…”

    :-) So the fact that Buddhistm is dead and the citizens of Lanka are behaving in the most unbuddhistic of ways is also the fault of those terrible Brits?

    • Brahma

      Dingiri Jayalath and Others:

      How to Understand the Solar System and Sinhala Buddhist Indifference

      Go back to the year 1680. Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton had all figured out how the Earth goes round he Sun in an elliptical orbit while rotating on its own axis and with a tilt to the plane of the orbit.

      Now how to understand Sinhala History and Sinhala Buddhist Indifference for Others: A summary.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinhalese_people
      Studies looking at the origin of the Sinhalese have been contradictory. Older studies suggest a predominantly Sri Lankan Tamil contribution followed by a significant Bengali contribution with no North Western Indian contribution,[42][43] while more modern studies point towards a predominantly Bengali contribution and a minor Tamil and North Western Indian (Gujarati & Punjabi) contribution.[44][45][46] Multiple studies have found no significant genetic difference between the Sinhalese and the three other major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka (Sri Lankan Tamil, Indian Tamil and Sri Lankan Moor).[43][47][48][49][50][51]
      It is debatable whether the Sri Lankan population have genetic links to Far East Asian populations however due to their close links to North East India, there is a likelihood of some traces of East Asian genes.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahavansa

      Mahavansa, is one of the few documents containing material relating to the N?gas and Yakkhas, the dwellers of Lanka prior to the legendary arrival of Vijaya. The Mahavansa gave rise to many other Pali chronicles, making Sri Lanka of that period probably the world’s leading center in Pali literature. The Mahavamsa has, especially in modern Sri Lanka, acquired a significance as a document with a political message.[8] The Sinhalese majority often use Manavamsa as a proof of their claim that Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation from historical time. The British historian Jane Russell[9] has recounted how a process of “Mahavamsa bashing” began in the 1930s, especially from within the Tamil Nationalist movement. The Mahavamsa, being a history of the Sinhala Buddhists, presented itself to the Tamil Nationalists and the Sinhala Nationalists as the hegemonic epic of the Sinhala people. This view was attacked by G. G. Ponnambalam, the leader of the Nationalist Tamils in the 1930s. He claimed that most of the Sinhala kings, including Vijaya, Kasyapa, and Parakramabahu, were Tamils. Ponnambalam’s 1939 speech in Navalpitiya, attacking the claim that Sri Lanka is a Sinhalese, Buddhist nation was seen as an act against the notion of creating a Buddhist only nation. The Sinhala majority responded with a mob riot, which engulfed Navalapitiya, Passara, Maskeliya, and even Jaffna.[9][10] The riots were rapidly put down by the British colonial government, but later this turned through various movements into the civil war in Sri Lanka which ended in 2009.
      The historical accuracy of the Mahavansa, given the time when it was written, is considered to be astonishing,[11] although the material prior to the death of Asoka is not considered to be trustworthy and is mostly legend.
      This date of Vijaya’s arrival is thought to have been artificially fixed to coincide with the Ceylonese date for the death of Buddha, that is 543 BCE. The story of Vijaya’s arrival was also written much later after it had occurred, as the Mahavansa is thought to have been written in 6 CE to 1877 CE by Buddhist monks.[12][13]
      The historical accuracy of Mahinda converting the Sri Lankan king to Buddhism is also debated. Professor Hermann Oldenberg, a German scholar of Indology who has published studies on the Buddha and translated many Pali texts, considers this story a “pure invention”. V. A. Smith (Author of Asoka and Early history of India) also refers to this story as “a tissue of absurdities”. V. A. Smith and Professor Hermann came to this conclusion due to Ashoka not mentioning the handing over of his son, Mahinda, to the temple to become a Buddhist missionary and Mahinda’s role in converting the Sri Lankan king to Buddhism, in his 13th year Rock Edicts. Particularly the Rock-Edict XIII.[14]
      There is also an inconsistency with the year on which Ashoka sent Buddhist missionaries to Sri Lanka. According to the Mahavamsa the missionaries arrived in 255 BCE, but according to Ashoka’s Rock-Edict XIII it was 5 years earlier in 260 BCE.[14
      The Naga people were one of the two aboriginal people of Sri Lanka who ruled Nagadeepa or Naga Nadu[citation needed]; the coastal districts of Northern, Eastern and Western Ceylon, particularly the Jaffna peninsula[citation needed] from the 6th century BCE to 3rd century CE
      The Nagas lived among the Yakkha, Raksha and Deva in Ceylon according to the Manimekhalai[citation needed] and Mahavamsa andRamayana. According to Ramayana Indrajit married to the daughter of Naga king. Time to time Anuradhapura Kingdom was ruled by few kings from Naga tribe.
      Having several kings in Kingdom of Rajarata from Naga tribe, it seems there were significant of Naga power in country. H. Parker, a British historian and author of “Ancient Ceylon” considers the Naga to be an offshoot of the Nayars of Kerala[4] Ancient Sri Lankan history book Mahavamsa mentions a dispute between two Naga kings in northern Sri Lanka.[5] The Manimekhalai and archaeological inscriptions refer to the Chola-Naka alliance and intermarriange being the progenitor of the Pallava Dynasty. Many Buddhist temples in the south of Sri Lanka have assimilated the divine form of naga (Natha Deva) into a Bodhisattva.
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naga_people_of_Sri_Lanka

      1. Sri Lanka was Hindu /Animist and other Gods Country before the introduction of Buddhism, and Tissa probably a Hindu.
      2. After the introduction of Buddhism, gradually the country became Buddhist, except the Tamils. Why?
      3. The Monk Mahanama wanted to mend Sinhala and Buddhism and get the Monks established as just like in the other religions.
      4. The chronicles have historical narrations and myths. The myths are the visit of Buddha to Sri Lanka, and the Grandfather of Vijaya was a lion etc. A lion copulating with a human? If so, should be able to figure out from the DNA of the present Sinhalese. There were people in Sri Lanka before Vijaya and probably the new arrivals merged with the natives.
      5. It was the Monk Mahanama who claimed the island was Dharmadeepa, Faith Island, for Sinhala Buddhism, and not for Naga Hindus. Claimed that the Sinhalese are the protectors of imported Buddhism and imported Sinhalese. This is how Sinhala and Buddhism got linked and the Sinhala Buddhist identity evolved. However, it should be noted not all Sinhala Buddhist are racists, just a fringe small fraction, probably around 5 to 10%, misguided by some racist monks.
      6. This hypothesis should be looked at and tested with the data. The data of Sri Lanka over the past 100 years or so.
      7. The data fits quite well with the riots and discrimination of Tamils, and even though the Monk Mahanama who lived about 5th Century AD lived before the advent of Islam and Christianity to the Island, and Mahanama’s enemy were the Tamil people. The present day Sinhala Buddhist racist monks, by extension they are extending to Muslims and Christians, even to Sinhala Christians and Sinhala Muslims, whose mother tongue is Sinhala.
      It is hoped that this Sri Lanka model, will help the Westerners and many Sri Lankans to understand the Sinhala Buddhist Ethno religious indifference or racism, its roots, just the same way you can understand the solar system from the findings of Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton.

    • Off the Cuff

      Dear Dingiri,

      I just noticed your 02/18/2013 • 10:02 pm post and your out of context remarks by chance. Do you have any difficulty in being straightforward?

      What is the need to hide a response by omitting to address it and omitting to keep it in the correct thread? Why do you have to resort to dishonesty by truncating a sentence and commenting on it out of context?

      It’s disappointing to note your dishonesty.

      A fact is something that you can prove.
      Hallucinations are not facts.

      I seem to have triggered your ire by referring to the uncouth behaviour of the Brits. Do you believe that the Brits were magnanimous to the natives of Lanka?

      If that is your belief, then you are Hallucinating.

      You seem to be overawed by the white skin.

      If you have anything to discuss, do so with the whole of the comment I posted on 02/16/2013 • 2:41 am instead of a few words from a truncated sentence taken out of context dishonestly.

      Given your recent behaviour, I doubt you would have the integrity to do so but I would like to be proven wrong.

  • Dev

    If nothing else Dayan Jayatilleke is a man whose colour/opinions changes depending on which way the wind is blowing,

  • alex

    Some seem to think that this article is about countering MR – to the contrary it is espousing exactly what MR wants … shift from 13th Amendment Plus to a new proposal Soulbury Plus – what ever that is meant to be. As ever, no one in Sri Lanka wants to deal with the problem .. that a sizeable section of the population is deluded, violently nationalistic and believes the island is theirs (mostly because their leaders have told them so for 60 years) and that minorities are ‘guests’.
    At least the author tacitly recognises state complicity in past pogroms, but ignores the obvious question of how a state which was complicit in ethnic pogroms can be entrusted again, this time with a ‘Soulbury Plus’. The answer is the invention of a new ‘watchdog’ on minority rights. This may as well be a mythical beast, a Cerberus for Sri Lanka (the comparison of the island as Hades is apt).
    It would be best for all on the island if they placed their hopes in human rights watchdogs at UNHRC – now is the first time in Sri Lanka’s tragic post colonial history that every abuse and every move made by this violent, repressive, nationalistic and dysfunctional state against moderate SInhalese and minorities (Muslims, Christians and Tamils) alike is being monitored, highlighted and it finally looks like action will be taken. One would choose the US Rottweiler any day over some phantom Sri Lankan watchdog to protect its citizen’s rights.