As canvassing heightens, party supporters are doing the rounds convincing possible target audiences to cast their votes in favour of their candidates and manifestos. Recently one such canvassing video went viral on social media sparking debate among viewers as to whether its contents were an implied or actual threat. The video featured President’s Counsel (PC) Ali Sabry on the campaign trail supporting Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP) candidate Gotabaya Rajapaksa. Mr. Sabry was addressing members of the Muslim community, explaining why he believed they should vote for Mr. Rajapaksa.
The video translates as follows:
“We have to live in peace with the Sinhalese community. Our national anthem itself says that we Sri Lankans are children of one mother. Sajith is saying he will rule this country like his father. So it reminded me how Muslim people in the North, South and East were given 24 hours to leave the country back in 1990. So use your vote wisely. Keep Badurdeen and Hakeem aside because when Mahinda Rajapaksa comes to power they will fall behind him and get posts in Parliament. But Gotabaya will speak on behalf of the Muslim community and work for them. Like in Elpitiya, we can win the majority of votes if we go along with the winning party and then we can be a part of that victory.”
As he said if Muslims don’t align with the winning party, someone in the audience interrupted him and shouted “ambanaikku kidaikkum” which roughly translates to “we will get it thoroughly”, causing Mr. Sabry to first pause and then endorse the sentiment.
“The comment was not a threat or a sign of things to come”: Sabry
We have to live in peace with the Sinhalese community
At the onset of the video being posted on social media, Mr. Sabry wrote on his personal Facebook profile: “There have been several questions raised and even personal statements made about me with regards to a comment made during a meeting where I allegedly spoke of violence if Muslims don’t vote a certain way. My message through has been one of inclusivity, or living in harmony with the other races and to move forward with all the religions equally - a concept of inclusive Nationalism. However, a comment made by a member of the audience which I repeated during the speech has been repeatedly quoted out of context to portray it as being an indirect threat for not voting for Mr. Rajapaksa.
someone in the audience interrupted him and shouted “ambanaikku kidaikkum” which roughly translates to “we will get it thoroughly
“I am a firm believer in democracy, and believe that each person has the right to vote for their preferred candidate. The comment made was not in anyway a threat or a ‘sign of things to come’ as some are saying, but was meant to construe that Muslims and the other minorities cannot continue to isolate itself from the majority, and that further isolation and alienation is not a good thing as after all we are living in a multi-ethnic country.
“I only request that you view the whole speech made by me, and come to your own conclusions as to what my message is without being swayed by self serving edits made by those seeking to discredit me.”
“Promoting hate speech has been their common practice”: Hakeem
Nobody can forget the past. Muslims have faced bitter experiences
“Nobody can forget the past,” opined Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) leader Minster Rauff Hakeem. “Muslims have faced bitter experiences. But now Ali Sabry is trying to market Gotabaya as the savior of the nation. After the war, the way they tried to govern with an iron fist allowed xenophobic events to take place. Between 2012 and 2014 some places of religious worship were attacked and this kept happening at a rate. So after the war they were looking for an enemy. When the Aluthgama incident occurred, the Muslims said enough is enough. None of us can forget history and some memories are still fresh in their minds,” he said. “But they have been pointing fingers at us although we have had moderate views and have never empowered extremism,” Mr. Hakeem continued. “When Muslim youth were getting frustrated and started becoming LTTE members the SLMC prevented them from being gobbled up by Tamil militancy forces. The real perpetrators of the Ampara and Digana incidents were those in the past regime. Promoting hate speech is a pretext that they use to play with the emotions of people. This has been their common practice,” he added.
“We want a Mandela not a Mugabe”: Rahuman
we had to face a lot of issues. There were riots in several parts of the country
In his comments, UNP MP Mujibur Rahuman said before the Easter Sunday attacks a lot of politicians and civil society organisations had campaigned against Muslims to create an anti-Muslim sentiment. “After the bombs, these politicians compelled the majority Sinhala community to suspect the Muslim community. As a result we had to face a lot of discriminating issues. There were riots in several parts of the country and the police arrested many Pohottuwa supporters who were part of extremist groups. They created anger and suspicions within communities. So with all that in mind how can Muslims vote for Gotabaya? This lawyer is asking the Muslim community to vote for Gotabaya so that he will bring about national harmony when he’s already surrounded by a group of extremists. We don’t want a Mugabe. We need a leader like Mandela.”
Meanwhile, commenting on the same, United People’s Freedom Alliance MP Faiszer Musthapha said Mr. Sabry has already issued a statement explaining in what context he made those remarks. “He meant that if Muslims don’t vote for Gotabaya, the problems they faced after the Easter Sunday attacks would continue.”
MP Faiszer Musthapha said Mr. Sabry has already issued a statement explaining in what context he made those remarks
Jeya Kanagasundaram Tuesday, 12 November 2019 09:44 AM
Why this Ali Sabry is trying to get Sajith's father into the 24-hour ultimatum given to Muslims to quit north. The demand came from the LTTE to those Muslims in that area believing that they are informants. Ranasinghe Premadasa had no hands on this issue.
yogi Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:53 AM
he is not ali, he is eli...., he is not representing community, but he has a revenge to take with ranil
Fahim Wednesday, 13 November 2019 02:46 PM
He is his last moments of bankruptcy
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