By chance I came across an invitation with regard to the launching of a book titled, ‘Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday Massacre’ by Dr. Rohan Gunaratna, on 28 July 2023. I immediately told myself that I should get a copy for myself. Then, I came across some content on the side of the invitation card. I was taken aback when reading it. There was misinformation, distortion and highly prejudicial information in it. I am not aware if that is an abstract from the book or the work of the publishing houses which are involved in the launching. I do not know.
However, I could not resist the urge to respond to the untruths and incriminating statements made therein. These are blanket statements indirectly putting the Muslims and its religious leaders in the dock.
1. It states that the Easter Sunday attack is the world’s worst international terrorist carnage after the Al Qaeda’s 9/11 attack.
This is not true. The 9/11 attack took place in 2001. In the year 2020, the famously known, ‘Mai-Kadra Massacre’ took place in Ethiopia’s Tigray Region by the Samri Militia. Amnesty International’s Director for East and Southern Africa Deprose Muchena, said, “We have confirmed the massacre of a very large number of civilians.” Government’s media agency AMMA reported there were around 500 victims. Others reported around 766 deaths. According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), as of 11 November, some 7,000 refugees had fled western Tigray state into neighbouring Sudan.
Another example, in late December 2008, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) labelled as Christian Extremists, brutally killed more than 865 civilians, known as the ‘Christmas Massacre’, and abducted at least 160 children in northern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). LRA combatants hacked their victims to death with machetes or axes or crushed their skulls with clubs and heavy sticks. (Human Rights Watch, Christmas Massacres report 2009). Again, the ‘Makombo massacre’ took place in December 2009 in the Haut-Uele District of Democratic Republic of the Congo in the region of Makombo killing 321 people. (Human Rights Watch).
2. It states, “a global trend, religiously motivated violence has its genesis in Salafi-jihadism”.
This is not true. The Sikh terror attack on the Air India plane killing 329 people on board was as a result of Sikh extremism. The Sikh Khalistan movement. The many attacks by the Lord’s Resistance Army (above) whose stated goals include ruling Uganda according to the Ten Commandments is due to Christian Extremism. Picking only Salafi-jihadism, simply stinks.
3. It states, “How should we hold our religious leaders accountable when they promote exclusivist and extremist ideologies?”
This is not true. The Muslims along with its religious leaders have not hesitated to come forth in promoting co-existence, tolerance and unity among all communities. One or two bad eggs, which are always there in any community, should not be the benchmark for the entire religious leadership. For example, the recent incidents of a Sri Lankan monk in Japan trying to seduce a young man or the ‘threesome’ of the other monk in Sri Lanka, should not be the benchmark to evaluate the entire respected Sangha community. When taking the context in which the religious leadership is questioned, it clearly manifests the inner prejudice against the Muslims religious establishment.
4. It states, “Why are the radical clerics campaigning to lift the ban on extremist publications, foreign preachers and listed entities?”
People may think that this is nasty insinuation. Who are the radical clerics who are being accused of campaigning? On which extremist publication did they want the ban lifted? Who asked to lift the ban on banned preachers? Are these not sweeping statements? Unfounded, baseless and incriminatory. In fact, when this matter was discussed with President Ranil Wickremesinghe, I was also present.
5. Finally, the most dangerous statement, “should we wait to suffer the next attack or urgently shape all our religious spaces, a sacred treasure, to prevent an attack-in-the-making.”
These words sound prophetic which instilled fear in me. For a moment my imagination went rioting when I read the words, “suffer the next attack”, and “an-attack-in-the-making”. I was thinking is this the harbinger for a false flag attack to put the blame on the Muslim community and its religious leaders? I, then, told myself, “Don’t be crazy”.
If someone asks me, “are you still going to buy the book?’. “Sorry, I changed my mind.”
*The writer can be reached via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Disclaimer: Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday Massacre; The Distortions In The Invitation Card By Mass L. Usuf – - Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Latheefarook.com point-of-view