I do have a race and it’s called the human race and right now I am ashamed of the behaviour of the human race. I wish I was buddy the beagle or Zimba the lion but not a human cause our behaviour is not worthy of a human being. I follow Islam which to me is a religion of peace as the word Islam means but it was this same religious extremism that has caused so much pain and I hang my head in shame.
My head has been buzzing with thoughts angry and frustrated it’s about to explode. It’s not anger towards anyone it’s towards my own inability to make things right. 04/21 was horrific for us Sri Lankans it was Easter Sunday and I only had 10 of my undergrad students present in class and they too were disengaged because of the stream of messages that kept coming and the disturbing photographs. It wasn’t fair it was a day of joy and celebration and I had been planning to buy my students tea and snacks from the cafe across the road they always complain that it’s beyond their reach financially. But it was forgotten as one buy one the number of suicide bombs going off became closer. I needed to get my students to safety and had them call cabs, parents and leave the building tired I finally left for the day only 10.30 a.m and the news was bad. Muslim Extremists had carried out bombings in 3 churches and 3 leading five star hotels. The sound of sirens filled the air the hospitals were crowded, there was a plea for blood donations. The nation was in chaos, curfew was clamped and search operations began. The security forces were quick to respond and the hospitals were outstanding. People not having anything to do gathered around the idiot box.
It’s almost three weeks and things have only got worse. Social Media is back and people are busy attacking each other. The post has my head twirling cause I don’t understand why people are being so petty. I respect those followers of Jesus Christ cause they have worked with such restrain even though they were the ones who suffered most of all. The cardinal has constantly been a role model for peaceful co-existence. The Tamil minority have stayed out of it altogether other than those in politics.
The politicians are all passing the buck and blaming each other for the happenings and those really effected are being forgotten as they all move towards securing their possibilities for the future in politics. While the media is going to town on the happenings social media has become a means of spreading racial dis-harmony and rumours. The information of extremism entering this beautiful land was shared many years ago and nothing had happened and the information of these attacks were also made available and was ignored or scoffed at, why the common man hasn’t still been told. The system is now broken and I feel we have no leader to stand up and be counted.
I am trying hard to make meaning of all of this in order that I might be able to create some sanity in a chaotic situation. Today just glancing through Facebook my eye caught this statement and translated it went something like this. “By not buying their products Muslim businesses are destroyed lets continue to boycott their products so we destroy them fully.” And a well educated gentleman had shared it. and there were so many comments. And there I sat in total disbelief at what was happening, this weren’t the Christians or the Muslim extremist. So I assume in future I walk in to a store or company to purchase a product or service, I first ask what religion do your owners follow. OK they are Muslims so I buy, if they told me any other religion I walk out. What rational was behind this behaviour. There was another post that went something like let’s boycott Etisalat cause it’s from the middle east cause that’s where Islam originated, So you also boycott Axiata cause Malaysia is a Muslim country and leave the company too, And are all non- Muslims going to leave Etisalat and how will they feed their families. I have friends who work at Etisalat in the gulf so are they going to leave their jobs and come back are all non Muslims working in various jobs in the middle east coming back as well. So you don’t pump fuel if you are not a Muslim cause it comes from the gulf. And Petrol stations not owned by Muslims don’t deal in fuel anymore cause it’s from the gulf until the Sri Lanka Government gets fuel from Canada. All those non – Muslims working in Bangladesh are coming back because there are extremist and they might be funded by the company you work for. I am lost and angry at those trying to make it a business opportunity for themselves and forgetting the bigger goal of helping those effected heal.
The vegetable shop I usually purchase from was empty and most of the helpers were off and I asked what was up and he said sales have dropped. The expats have left, no tourists, the restaurants are doing badly and some of the non- Muslims aren’t buying from him anymore. So I asked him its impacting the others. His faced dropped as he said I buy less vegetables from the whole sale market and I have had to reduce the number of daily paid staff to keep the business going for better times. So this avoiding is not just impacting him as a Muslim it’s effecting the entire supply chain.
The Banana farmers on TV were stating how they were struggling to sell their produce because sales has dropped and therefore the demand for bananas have also dropped. So bananas just rot in their homes and just think of the impact on them.
I sit here writing cause I am hurting not because I am marginalised because we are destroying our country. I only leave home if it is essential if not we prefer to stay home. Today was one of those essentials. I took a pick me as I usually do, but in the past few weeks many have cancelled my rides cause my name is that of a Muslim. And I told him my root and he happily drove us. Having dropped my daughter I went in to drop off some bills and then to the regular market in Colombo 3. Just as we turned in I said, if you are willing to wait I am going back home you can drop me home to which he agreed eagerly stating that he lived close to my home and could go home for lunch. So we drove back in quiet silence and as I was getting closer to home I mentioned the following I am a Muslim and I am going back to pick my daughter up at 5.00pm and if you would like you can take the hire. To which he responded very quickly and his words broke my heart. This is my first hire for the day no body is going out and some people think that pick me is owned by Muslims so they shouldn’t ride it and have deleted the app, what they have done is taken away the hires from us many of us have no way to feed our families or pay our lease. This wasn’t the first driver who shared their pain and my heart goes out to them so I don’t take back the balance and hope that little would help in their expenses in some small way. I don’t drive so much of my travel is through cabs now I don’t travel unless I have to which might be 1/4th of what it used to be. I don’t go to my favourite coffee bars anymore. I know I am not the only one which is robbing the employees of their tips and if it continues some might even close down.
I saw this post that said we were celebrating Ramadan, Ramadan is not a celebration we fast from sunrise to sun set to feel the hunger and pain of the poor and it is painful cause many of us have to work and this year we are not having Ifthar the way we used to. I have not fried or baked a single breakfast speciality in our home we have kept it to bare minimums. I have told the kids we are not celebrating the festival so don’t ask for new clothes in respect of those who lost their lives and still recovering in hospitals. And many of my extended family and Muslim friends are doing the same so don’t assume and make judgement on us. By all means punish those who break the law of the land including the politicians involved in these extremist activities and those who were enemies of Mother Lanka by selling explosives meant for quarries as stated by the Navy Commander, clothing and weapons to the extremists. We have no place for traitors. We stood together through 30 years of war and made it through and Muslims were kicked out of their own homes but we stood with the nation and even fought along side the Sinhala majority, we’ve been through the roughest Tsunami and we have worked hard to rebuild mother Lanka after many floods and landslides in the recent past, Sri Lankans came joined hands with the forces to rescue and rebuild Lanka.
The majority of Muslims don’t support extremists, I have no right to tell anyone what to do but let me share the downward spiral that the current actions are causing for the common man. Boycotting all businesses run by Muslims is up to you I guess we will all learn to survive. But just think these actions aren’t hurting the extremists,nor the politicians who’ve not had to cut down any of their family comforts. It might only increase with cheaper flights and hotel rates and more security. But the common man who already is squeezed by the weight of taxes. The families who were surviving on two meals or one meal a day please don’t take that away. It’s a time to stand together and make it work so that the economy picks up and tourist travel back to Sri Lanka and everyone flourishes not turn our backs on each other, we help each other rise above and never be complacent thinking all is peaceful.