I am not a Sinha-Ley Muslim. Won’t ever be. I had no problem with the concept of being a Sinhala-Muslim during my childhood. In-fact I often used to think Ven. Mahinda Thera included us -- the minorities, in his poems and Anagarika Dharmapala in his, what I assumed were, anti colonialist speeches. That was why, during many of the Sinhala speech contests I took part in as a teenager, I chose the topic ‘Jaathiyata Diridun Lak Doo Puthun’ (Those who gave life to the nation) or a deviant close to it. I remember ending them with the poem.
“Be iwasannata Be iwasannata ammeni pembara Lanka
Ma sitha ginnehi loo lunu men pupuranneya kopa vikaren
E sanasannata Sinhala Ley athi Sinhala kolleku ayyo
Dan upadinnema nadda Upulwan dev rajune Laka Rakna”
All the while thinking, we also fit the criteria of a ‘ Sinhala Ley athi Sinhala kollek’. After all even the writer of the poem was not from the ‘Sinha-ley’ clan.
Then I remember reading Kumarathunga Munidasa as well, when he said ‘nuwanath hela, niwanath hela’ - ‘hela’, to me, meant nothing more than the Island.
More recently, when Desmond de Silva sang in ‘ Yanna Rata Watey, Enna maa priye’, the verse ‘ Sinhala Polawa mage mey’ I didn’t find anything odd. In fact it is one my favourite songs. So is C.T Fernando’s Hela Jathika Abhimane. I have no problem with the concept. Never did. But I do have a problem with fascists trying to shove it down my throat. I have a problem with them trying to mask their fascism by saying we are all Sinhala-Muslims, and Sinhala-Tamils and other such pacifying nonsense, We are not and never will be. If that was true, why not be happy with the term Sri Lankan, instead of this chauvinism? I am not going to be forced into this fascist call for blood.
"I have a problem with Muslims who wear a Nikab, a type of attire that was intended to help mitigate the effects of sand storms in deserts. I have a problem with those wearing the Nikab walking around in a tropical country in the scorching sun in black head-to-toe attire"
I also have a problem with Muslims who think they are ‘God’s chosen people’. Many do. Many believe that they follow the only true religion and they are here to save the rest of the world from hell fire. They can live in any delusion they want to, but it must stop with them.
None of us want to be saved, and many of us are quite content the way we are. My problems don’t end there. I have a problem with Muslims who wear a Niqab, a type of attire that was intended to help mitigate the effects of sand storms in deserts. I have a problem with those wearing the Nikab walking around in a tropical country in the scorching sun in black head-to-toe attire. A change of colour won’t help, but the colour, which absorbs heat the most, to me is a significant pointer of the underlying irrationality. But that problem is sociological. As long as they keep to themselves, that’s fine. I believe in the right of choice, just like I would politically support the right of any woman or man to choose anything he/she want to wear. I have a problem with the Muslims who agree with one and not the other. I stand by the Nikab- politically, only because I stand for the right of women to chose to wear anything they prefer among every other right a human being should have. But that is as far as it goes. Thinking they are God’s chosen people, doesn’t make them any less-bigoted than the Sinha-ley jokers. The Nikab is, but one example out of many. I take issue with those who are quick to quote scripture in defence of their bigotry. If that were so, they can’t have issues with the ‘Sinha-Ley’ clan. After all, they are also using historical scripture and legend to justify their narrative; aren’t they? The white supremacist KKK, the slave owners of yore and more recently ISIS, among many others justify their narrative with religious or historical scripture too. I have issues with those who don’t understand this logical hypocrisy.
"I have a problem with them trying to mask their fascism by saying we are all Sinhala-Muslims, and Sinhala-Tamils and other such pacifying nonsense, We are not and never will be. If that was true, why not be happy with the term Sri Lankan, instead of this chauvinism? "
I also take issue with the Muslims who understand all of this but don’t stand against this nonsense and are quick to point out the bigotry of the rest of the world. I also take issue with the Muslims who are passive and non-committal, because I witness everyday, the struggle my Sinhalese comrades undergo and commit themselves to against the fascism and the bigotry of their own kind, despite the perils of taking on such violent fascism. I stand against the Muslims who are continuing to alienate themselves from the South East Asian and Lankan cultural values that were such an integral part of the Lankan ethos. I will resist them too, just like I would resist the Sinhaley jokers. They are, but two sides of the same coin.
I have a problem with anyone shoving their political, religious or cultural fascism down my throat and I will resist it with every fibre within me. I think you should too.
(Hafeel Farisz is a Journalist, Attorney-at-Law and a graduate in International Relations. He is currently on a Fulbright scholarship reading for his Masters in New York).