It seems that somebody has shifted the gear to the reverse. It’s really disheartening to see how a golden opportunity the country was presented with about three and a half years ago is allowed to slip away carelessly. Chauvinism, racism and religious and cultural intolerance have forced themselves into the front seat while harmony, unity and respect for difference have retreated to the back seat.
It is tragic to see how young men and women, who are supposed to herald the wonders of the future, are going back to the mentality of the Crusaders in the Middle Ages, who clearly fought for the wealth of the Islamic nations at the time more than for religion.
Do those who protest against Halal, Muslim expansionism and unethical conversions have the slightest thought what would be the repercussions if this wave of hatred surfaces to the level of ethnic riots? Isn’t thirty years of racial hatred enough? Are the Muslims the new Tamils?
In 1948, when Sri Lanka gained Independence from the British, the country had the best per capita income in the entire Asian region—even better than some of the European nations. But where are we now? The ethnic disharmony between the Sinhala majority and the Tamil minority robbed 30 years of our Independence, stalling the country’s socio economic development.
Countries like Malaysia and Singapore which were way below Sri Lanka in terms of per capita income but had the same racial differences understood that racial biases wouldn’t take them anywhere. They very prudently reconciled their differences and are currently enjoying over US$ 10,000 per capita incomes, where Sri Lanka is still planning to achieve US$ 4,000 in 2015.
However, we see a fundamental difference between the rulers of those countries who achieved stellar economic growth subsequent to generating ethnic harmony or the other way the rulers who ruled Sri Lanka did since Independence. Those rulers never used racial or religious differences to their political advantage and always treated them as meanness. But in the case of Sri Lanka’s ruling clan since Independence, they exploited racial differences to their own advantage to the maximum. If one looks at how the Tamils in the plantations in Sri Lanka were finally given Sri Lankan citizenship, one can easily realise how politicians used the plight of this destitute group of people to their own political advantage.
Meanwhile, the ongoing hate campaigns against Muslims have been extended to new heights with some demanding not to send Sri Lankan maids to Middle Eastern countries. The beheading of Rizana Nafeek would have also prompted this demand.
Of course the government should look to end the practice of sending unskilled women to other countries for household work. But the reality is Sri Lanka at present cannot afford such a move as remittances being the number one exchange earner for the country. Sri Lanka gained US$ 6 billion by way of remittances in 2012 and the money has more than helped the country in balancing a lot of economic mismatches.
Therefore we urge the politicians not to succumb by playing their petty politics to the racial unrest currently going on in the country. At the same time we request all the moderate religious leaders to come forward and stand against religious extremism.