The mood among the Muslim community, in the aftermath of the disgusting gold-and-mobile-phone smuggling involving Muslim parliamentarian Ali Sabri Raheem, is that all political parties carrying the word “MUSLIM” need to be dissolved.
This has been the main topic of discussion at almost every gathering. Many point out that it is time for the sinking Muslim civil society to wake up and work towards the dissolution of the so-called Muslim political parties given the damage they have caused to the image of the Muslim community over the years.
Today, due to Muslim politicians’ misdeeds, the entire Muslim community is identified with corruption and dismissed, while hostile elements exploited this to suit their racist agendas.
Muslims who have been subjected to violent attacks since 2015 were furious when some Muslim parliamentarians voted for the 20th amendment to the constitution, knowing well they were empowering a president who was responsible for spearheading a violent campaign against Muslims.
In doing so, they knew very well that they were selling out the battered and helpless Muslim community. The common talk was that they sold themselves and the community’s interest for personal benefit. The shameful state of affairs is that they are still in politics and also call themselves Muslims though scoffed at by the community.
This has been the pattern ever since the establishment of the Sri Lankan Muslim Congress (SLMC) more than forty years ago. A Buddhist monk once said Muslim parliamentarians could be bought over.
After the untimely death of SLMC founder M.H.M. Ashraf, there began a leadership struggle within the party. This was exploited by Sinhala politicians to divide the party by promoting one group against the other.
This trend continues to date to the detriment of both communities.
Muslims of all walks of life now realise that they were taken for a long ride by these so-called corrupt Muslim politicians. They openly say that they should stop voting for any party with the tag ‘MUSLIM’ as they had exploited religion to promote their agendas, enhance their positions, and, perhaps, amass wealth at the expense of the community.
Against this gloomy backdrop comes the devastating news of Puttalam parliamentarian Ali Sabry Raheem of the Muslim National Alliance smuggling gold and mobile phones. This is not only a violation of the country’s laws but also of Islam which demands Muslims to be loyal to the country so long as the rules do not contravene Islam.
The community expected the highly individualised, politicised and commercialised one-man show, the All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulmea (ACJU), to condemn this shameful deed.
But, the ACJU, which represents a small group of people who repeatedly elect its president, by prior arrangement, for almost a quarter century, failed to do so.
This was not something unexpected of ACJU whose president has been known for several blunders which placed the community in a difficult situation.
On the other hand, the ACJU president loves to hob knob with politicians and feels proud to be seated at functions with the very same Sinhala politicians who unleashed violence against Muslims, insulted Islam and even burnt the holy Quran.
The widespread belief within the community is that the ACJU needs to be thoroughly overhauled and scholars with integrity need to be brought in to project Islam in its proper perspective and guide the community, inform about Islam to Sinhalese and bring about harmony between the two communities.
It is disheartening to note that so far no Muslim civil society group has condemned this smuggling incident. This speaks volumes about the religious and moral bankruptcy of the Muslim community and its indifference to its fate.
What the community failed to understand is that the governments, since the defeat of the LTTE, have opened the country to global and regional anti-Muslim forces.
Islamophobia is a billion-dollar industry supported by groups in the United States, Europe, and Israel together with Hindutva forces in neighbouring India. This year’s budget for anti-Muslim activities was reported to be around 350 billion dollars.
They have their own agenda against Muslims and Sri Lankan is no exception as the recent incidents indicate. This could tear apart communities and the country as it did in the recent past. They are active as demonstrated by the sudden appearance of YouTube channels that distort history by projecting Palestinians as villains and Israel as victims.
Unless and otherwise the community remains vigilant, what happened in the recent past could happen again. One indication of this is that the very racist mercenaries used by the then government to unleash violence against Muslims started to reappear now after remaining docile in the wake of the country’s economic crisis.
Disclaimer: Dissolve Muslim political parties as they have miserably failed the community By Latheef Farook - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view