Mosque and Town Hall, Colombo 7
Muslims are the new minority. Mostly ignored during the war years, now this population is drawing the ire of Sinhalese nationalists, and the results are pretty scary. Recently monks protested outside the No Limit clothing shop in Maharagama. That brand has long been attacked for having Tamil language calendars (which I think they did, it’s not a crime) and with vile rumors of giving out candy that makes Sinhalese infertile and rewarding Muslim (male) employees for marrying Sinhalese. This is all the ignorant cultural subconscious saying that Muslims are outbreeding ‘us’ and they’re bad, but it can have very serious results.
I was talking to Halik about this. We both agreed that this sort of anti-Muslim behavior is racist and bad for the country and generally rude. I, however, also tried to understand where the racism was coming from. And it’s not just from the Sinhalese, I was talking to a local government candidate in Batticaloa years back and she said it was really difficult to get Muslims and Tamils to run together on the same electoral slate. A friend selling land there said that the Tamil neighbors asked him to sell to a Sinhalese if he must, but not to a Tamil. So why do Muslims draw such wide antipathy?
Partly, I daresay mostly, it’s because of ignorance. I’m not anti-Muslim because I have Muslim friends and have eaten in their houses and understand that they’re not trying to make me infertile. If I didn’t know Muslims then I suppose I could pin my insecurities on them. I was also telling Halik that it doesn’t help that many Muslims keep to their own communities, especially Muslim women. However, that’s still no excuse for racism, at all.
Sadly, one of Mahinda’s responses to this rising racism is saying that most non-Buddhists are worshiping on land given by Buddhists and that no-Buddhists are racist. Which is… not helpful.
You would think that people have learned the dangers of communalism, but racism persists, now against Muslims. Not only No Limit, there are groups complaining about halal food and even saying that certifying bodies support terrorism and other nonsense. This is all dangerous nonse and it needs to stop. Everybody just needs to eat some wattalapan, remember that we’re all neighbors and chill.