Society

Who Will Wipe Away Our Tears? The Buddhist – Christian coexistence that lulled aggrieved Muslims

JAYASIRI PEDURUARACHCHI

“We lived like the children of one mother. An act of a handful of extremists hampered our unity. We must not find fault with all Muslims. Development of the country will be affected if we do so. Rev. Malcom Cardinal Ranjith acted in a very exemplary and commendable manner and led his community to peace. We must take these lessons and follow the paths our prophets preached to avoid unnecessary issues,” Ven. Angunnabadulle Gnanadassi Thero preached.


“We lived together in peace. But a single extreme act of narrow minded people put us in immense trouble.” says Moulavi M. Hisham Al-Fazi, teacher of Minnathul Faziyya Arab College in Matara with a tone of melancholy. His face expressed sorrow caused by the hate speech against Muslims after the Easter Sunday attacks.


“The acts of these extremists have caused a wide rift between us and our brethren, the Sinhala community. We are sorry and distressed by of it. We lived in unity. The faces we met when we came out of the mosque were happy and smiling faces, but after this incident, people have started to look away. When we sit on a bus, the people next to us stand up and move away. Young men call us IS,” said the Muslim cleric as tears rolled down his cheeks.


While he was wiping his tears, Ven. Angunnabadulle Gnanadassi Thero, the Deputy Chief Sanghanayaka of the Southern Province of Amarapura Dharmarakshitha Nikaya, raised his voice, “That is the nature of the ordinary people. This response is not limited to him and his community. We experience the same behaviour in response to the incidents related to other communities too. This is normal, irrespective of race and religion. But we must understand that people change when they understand the truth. Let’s unite to make people aware. This will provide solutions to all these problems,”


On being asked if it is fair to kill in order to elevate the status of one’s religion, Moulavi Hisham  remarked on the need to get back on the track of reconciliation rejecting extremism. The Sinhalese people changed on that day, but now they have understood the truth. Islam does not uphold suicide or murder. We must not destroy our 100 year heritage of co-existence. The culprits must be punished.


“We lived like the children of one mother. An act of a handful of extremists hampered our unity. We must not find fault with all Muslims. Development of the country will be affected if we do so. Rev. Malcom Cardinal Ranjith acted in a very exemplary and commendable manner and led his community to peace. We must take these lessons and follow the paths our prophets preached to avoid unnecessary issues,” Ven. Angunnabadulle Gnanadassi Thero preached.


Fr. Michael Collin, the Administrator of the Shrine of Our Lady of Matara, described his stressing experience regarding false media reports, gossip and hate statements.


“When this unfortunate incident took place, about 1500 were participating in the service at our church. As soon as we received the message, we suspended the service and asked people to return home. Regardless, the people inside the cathedral did not want to leave us behind. Eventually, the security forces had to tell them to go back home.”


He was moved when a young Buddhist man came to the church and told him, “Father, when we were displaced by the tsunami, it was the church community who came first with cooking utensils and food to help us. What should we do for you now?  Likewise, a Muslim brother came to the church. These people help us in the annual feast every year. This is reconciliation.


Groups of people belonging to various religions visited the church after this incident and expressed their brotherhood. I forgot my lunch talking to all of them. It was such a moving moment.  We must not panic. Anxiety can only worsen problems. We aspire to live like the past, in unity irrespective of religious divisions. Terrorists are a very small minority.

This article was originally published on the catamaran.com

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The views and opinions expressed in this publication are those of the authors. They do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the Sri Lanka Press Institute.

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