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Dear Basheer Segu Dawood,
Following your Media address about the Muslims’ demand for a separate Muslim Province, I consider it my responsibility as a Srilankan Muslim, since you allege that I’m with you for a separate Muslim Province, to clarify a few misunderstandings and call your attention to some major flaws in your statement.
You said “Muslims cannot give up their demand for a separate Muslim Province”(1).
Since when did you Sir, become the mouthpiece of the Srilankan Muslims? I can’t remember a day when we unanimously granted you and your party the exclusive right to represent us, and demand a piece of Srilanka on our behalf. You certainly did not invite me to that meeting if you ever had one nor did you send me a letter requesting my consent. However I’m not surprised with your blatant ignorance, and arrogance since you have been in the habit of flashing them shamelessly in public many times in the past. I’m acquainted with your tasteless and insipid realpolitik. Nonetheless as a Muslim and a responsible Srilankan citizen it would not only be unwise but slightly dangerous to merely dismiss your foolish remarks as utter nonsense. Thus I hereby declare that your demand is not my demand. I’m a Muslim, and a citizen of Srilanka, and I’m certainly not getting in with you in your band wagon. Let me be clear. I DON’T WANT A SEPARATE MUSLIM PROVINCE, and certainly not a province that has simpletons like you ruling over us.
Little wonder that your colleague and the General Secretary of SLMC, Hassan Ali, instead of apologizing for your imprudent and nonsensical statement, joined in and clarified your position, saying Segu Dawood had never talked of a separate State but only about a separate Province with a Muslim majority centered round the Ampara District(2). Who are these uninvited saviors? Where was their love for the Muslim community when they sided with the tyrannical 18th amendment? Hassan Ali justified your party’s position by saying that the SLMC was under severe pressure to vote for the 18th amendment in order to prevent a party split. What does that imply? That your party voted for further tightening the noose around our necks in the best interests of your beloved Muslim community? Surely you can’t be thinking that we are so thick in the head!
Please don’t drag me into your crazy political aspirations.
You said “…a Muslim Province only will give a motherland and self-determination to Muslims and we cannot give up our demand…”
What do you mean a motherland? Do you mean to say that we need a motherland other than Srilanka? Seriously? Do you even know the consequences of demanding a separate State? Although I’m not the least amused by your half-baked remarks and lack of political wisdom, and your party’s apathy to your thoughtlessness, I am deeply offended and absolve myself completely of your ill advised political maneuver and I suggest that you go visit a psychiatrist.
I need no self-determination through separation. I have happily embraced the rich diversity and stand in solidarity with my fellow Srilankans. I have faith in all the good people who are fighting against all odds selflessly beyond racial, religious and ethnic boundaries for a better future for our children. But with shepherds like you the sheep are bound to follow you to the cliff and beyond.
You further said “…A separate Muslim identity did not mean winning a few Parliamentary seats and Cabinet portfolios.”
A Muslim identity?! Let me get it right. So you mean to say that preserving a Muslim identity depends on splitting the nation and withdrawing from our fellow Srilankans to form a separate province?! Since your party claims in the SLMC website that “To seek solutions to the socio-economic and ethnic problems of Sri Lanka, based on the tenets of Islam (3)” is an objective, I wish to highlight your lack of knowledge about the very tenets which your party claims to uphold. You seem to talk about a Muslim identity quite oblivious to, and in total contradiction to how the Holy Qur’an – the Holy scripture of Islam to whose tenets you vouch to be faithful – defines a Muslim identity. You and your party are very good at exploiting the fear, ignorance and the religious zeal that is prevalent among the Muslim public to thrust you into power. At least some of us know that you lie.
The Qur’an says about the Muslim identity,
“And let there arise from you a nation inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right and forbidding what is wrong, and those will be the successful.” (Ala Imran: 104)
“You enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil”(Ala Imran: 110)
Thus a Muslim identity is not granted through lineage, name, ethnicity, country, appearance, exclusivity, dress code or language, but earned through enjoining good and forbidding evil. A Muslim is fundamentally good, and this is the primary criterion that qualifies anyone as a Muslim.
When the Qur’an speaks about what needs to be enjoined -good- and what needs to be shunned or forbidden –evil – it says,
“O you who have believed, be persistently standing firm in justice, witnesses for Allah , even if it be against yourselves or parents and relatives. Whether one is rich or poor, Allah is more worthy of both. So follow not [personal] inclination, lest you not be just. And if you distort [your testimony] or refuse [to give it], then indeed Allah is ever, with what you do, Acquainted”. (Nisaa:135)
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.”(Hujurat:13)
Pluralism, God says is the natural order, and that we need to embrace and nurture it. In the Srilankan context it means to accept the natural diversity and strive to establish a positive relationship between the different communities while understanding and appreciating the cultural and religious differences.
Righteousness is not that you turn your faces toward the east or the west, but [true] righteousness is [in] one who…….gives wealth, in spite of love for it, to relatives, orphans, the needy, the traveler, those who ask [for help], and for freeing slaves; [and who] establishes prayer and gives zakah(obligatory alms); [those who] fulfill their promise when they promise;…. Those are the ones who have been true, and it is those who are the righteous.(Baqara:177)
Righteousness God says, is not just to face Mecca and pray, but to benefit human kind by practicing good. Remember the number of times you and your party seduced the Muslim community into voting for you only to turn around, and break your treaties with them, which is a major offense according to the tenets which your party adheres to. Where are your ethics and where is your Muslim identity?
Thus the Muslim identity revolves around protecting, and nurturing the Universal Principles of Justice, Peace, Equality, Love, Creativity, Dignity (of Human kind and Nature), Welfare, Knowledge, Autonomy, Development, Freedom, Solidarity, Fraternity and Diversity.
How many times have you and your party violated the very tenets which you vowed to abide by, and without regret?
To cite a few incidents from the past, you and your party
- Betrayed the Muslim community and Srilankans at large by supporting the 18th amendment.
- Deceived and betrayed your beloved Muslims during the 2012 Eastern Provincial Council elections by joining the then ruling United Peoples Front Alliance (UPFA) which your party severely criticized while campaigning for the elections.
- Continued to remain with the UPFA Government even after the well planned and executed attacks on Aluthgama, Beruwala and Dhargha Town that saw several Muslims killed, and property worth billions destroyed and looted.
And you have the audacity to talk about protecting the Muslim identity!
Why can’t you invite and encourage the Muslims to contribute and participate in National Politics? Why do you keep on enticing us with our rights and privileges? Why do you want the Muslims to be apprehensive of a Sinhalese Majority, a majority that is withholding the rights of the minority? Because a Minority that can think of itself as a part of the larger citizenry, a minority that can participate in National politics, a minority that does not feel alienated, inferior and selfish, a minority that knows that its primary responsibility is to give, not take, a minority that can feel one with the majority as Srilankans, a minority that promotes solidarity, a minority that is confident, independent and free, a minority that transforms into a majority, and becomes a part of the larger human fraternity, beyond race, religion, color, gender, caste and class when it decides to defend and protect the universal principles of justice, freedom and equality, a minority that is not a minority anymore would mean the end of the road for you, and your party that is erected on the pillars of division.
Enough is enough. Do yourself a favor, and quit investing on communal politics to feed your own power, and your party’s cheap political ambitions. Let not an innocent minority be the scapegoat for your egocentric political agenda.
Mr. Segu Dawood, neither you nor your party have no any right or ethos to speak about a Muslim identity let alone represent the Muslims of Srilanka. Find yourself some other means to earn a living, a less disgraceful means.