Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Jammu and Kashmir: the Legitimacy of Article 370


Introduction
The recent unilateral decision of Prime Minister Modi’s government to revoke Article 370, which guaranteed the special status of Jammu and Kashmir; dismemberment of the State, and its diminishment are flagrant violations of the sovereign Constitution of India. These maneuvers jeopardize the federal structure of India. The erosion of the rights and privileges of a State is an unhealthy precedent to set in a diverse and federal country. The current curbing of political and civil rights in Jammu and Kashmir is deplorable.
Historical Perspective
On 26 October 1947, Maharaja Hari Singh signed the “Instrument of Accession” to India, officially ceding to the government of India jurisdiction over defense, foreign affairs and communications. The accession of J & K to India was accepted by Lord Mountbatten with the proviso that once political stability was established in the region, a referendum would be held in which the people of the State would either validate or veto the accession. After signing the Instrument of Accession, the maharaja appointed his political adversary, Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, as the head of an interim government.
On 2 November 1947, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, the first Prime Minister of independent India, reiterated his government’s pledge to not only the people of Kashmir, but also to the international community, to hold a referendum in Indian and Pakistani-administered Jammu and Kashmir under the auspices of a world body like the United Nations, in order to determine whether the populace preferred to be affiliated with India or Pakistan. Nehru emphasized this commitment several times at public forums over the next few years.
In January 1948 India referred the Kashmir dispute to the United Nations. Prime Minister Nehru took the dispute with Pakistan over Kashmir beyond local and national boundaries by bringing it before the UN Security Council, and seeking a ratification of India’s “legal” claims over Kashmir. The UN reinforced Nehru’s pledge of holding a plebiscite in Kashmir, and in 1948 the Security Council established the United Nations Commission for India and Pakistan (UNCIP) to play the role of mediator in the Kashmir issue. The UNCIP adopted a resolution urging the government of Pakistan to cease the infiltration of tribal mercenaries and raiders into J & K. It also urged the government of India to demilitarize the State by “withdrawing their own forces from Jammu and Kashmir and reducing them progressively to the minimum strength required for the support of civil power in the maintenance of law and order.” The resolution proclaimed that once these conditions were fulfilled, the government of India would be obligated to hold a plebiscite in the State in order to either ratify or veto the accession of J & K to India.
In the meantime, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir negotiated with the central government to ensure that it would be allowed to function as a fully autonomous unit within the federation. Article 370 of the Constitution of India ensured that apart from defense, foreign affairs, and communications, decisions with regard to other matters would be determined with the consent of the Government of Jammu and Kashmir. There was a reason that special status was guaranteed to Jammu and Kashmir under Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. On 13 July 1950, the new government of J & K, headed by Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah, made a landmark decision.
“Between 1950 and 1952, 700,000 landless peasants, mostly Muslims in the Valley but including 250,000 lower-caste Hindus in the Jammu region, became peasant-proprietors as over a million acres were directly transferred to them, while another sizeable chunk of land passed to government-run collective farms. By the early 1960s, 2.8 million acres of farmland (rice being the principal crop in the Valley) and fruit orchards were under cultivation, worked by 2.8 million smallholding peasant-proprietor households.” (Bose 2003: 27–28)
This metamorphosis of the agrarian economy had groundbreaking political consequences. This revolutionary measure, which greatly improved the human development index in the State, would not have been possible without Article 370. The political logic of autonomy and Article 370 of the Indian Constitution was necessitated by the need to bring about socioeconomic transformations.
The legislative bill, which had orchestrated this transformation, won the unstinting support of thousands of erstwhile disenfranchised peasants. But displaced landlords and officials in the Dogra regime made no bones about their hatred of the political supremacy of the new class of Kashmiri Muslims. This hatred unleashed a reign of terror and brutality against the Valley’s new political class.
The “defining moment in Jammu and Kashmir’s post-Indian independence history” came in 1950 when disenfranchised peasants “were freed from the shackles of landlords through a law that gave them ownership rights on the land they tilled. . . . The sweeping land reforms under the Big Landed Estates Abolition Act passed on July 13, 1950, changed the complexion of Kashmiri society. The historical image of the emaciated local farmer in tatters, with sunken faces and listless eyes, toiling to fill the granaries of landlords changed overnight into one of a landowner who expected to benefit from the labor he had put in for generations” (Ahmed, F.). This program emphasized the necessity of abolishing exploitative landlordism without compensation and enfranchising tillers by granting them the lands they worked on. Many policy makers in the Indian subcontinent, political scientists, and economists have acknowledged the effectiveness and rigor of land reforms in Jammu and Kashmir, which benefited underprivileged farmers in all three parts of the State—Jammu, Kashmir, and Ladakh.
In August 1952, the government of J & K reiterated the commitment of to the principles of secularism and democracy which enabled the forging of ties with the Indian nation-state: “The supreme guarantee of our relationship with India is the identity of secular and democratic aspirations, which have guided the people of India as well as those of Jammu and Kashmir in their struggle for emancipation, and before which all constitutional safeguards will take a secondary position.” For the layperson, the “new Kashmir” in which the hitherto peripheralized Muslim population of the Valley and marginalized women would reinsert themselves into the language of belonging a welcome development.
But the nationalist project of the Praja Parishad had sought the subsumption of religious minorities into a centralized and authoritarian state since the 1940s. These integrative and centralist measures were met with massive opposition, which the government of India suppressed with bloody maneuvers. The volcanic nature of the protests in the Valley gave a veneer of legitimacy to its action of large-scale repression of leaders of the Plebiscite Front. Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah was also arrested, for the umpteenth time, under the Defense of India Rules, to further hush the voices of dissent.
Sheikh Mohammad Abdullah underlined in his letter to Shyama Prasad Mukherjee, founder of the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, in February 1953,
When talking about the constitutional aspect, it is sometimes conveniently forgotten that the Praja Parishad wants that Article 370 should be expunged from the Constitution. So far as we are concerned, we have maintained that the special position accorded to the State can alone be the source of a growing unity and closer association between the State and India. The Constituent Assembly of India took note of the special circumstances obtaining in the State and made provisions accordingly.
To entertain the doubt that the Muslims of Kashmir would now give up their secular ideals would be uncharitable, although the statements and the pronouncements made by the leaders of communal parties in India from time to time and the inspiration and guidance they are providing at the moment to the Praja Parishad leadership in Jammu is, no doubt, giving them a rude shock. But let me assure you and the people of India that the Muslims in Kashmir will not falter from their ideals even if they are left alone in this great battle for secularism and human brotherhood.
As I’ve said on other forums, the Constitution of India seeks to guarantee respect for the rule of law, the independence of the judiciary, and the integrity of the electoral process. But time and again, provisions of the Constitution of India have been breached in Kashmir, and the ideals that it enshrines have been forgotten. In Kashmir, rights relating to life, liberty, dignity of the people, and freedom of expression guaranteed by the Constitution, embodied in the fundamental covenants and enforceable by courts of law, have been flouted. The revocation of Article 370, without consultation, makes it clear that the much lauded parliamentary democracy in India has been unable to protect a genuine democratic set-up in Kashmir.
Heads of Governments cannot avoid their ethical and moral responsibilities toward the peoples of the States in a federal country. The lives of those people cannot be torn asunder by paramilitary forces and other “upholders” of the law.
Blow to Kashmiriyat 
“Kashmiriyat” was not handed down to me as an unachievable and abstract construct. On the contrary, it was crystallized for me as the eradication of a feudal structure and its insidious ramifications. It was the right of the tiller to the land he worked on. It was the unacceptability of any political solution that did not take the aspirations and demands of the Kashmiri people into consideration. It was the right of Kashmiris to high offices in education, the bureaucracy and government; the availability of medical and educational facilities in Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh. It was the preservation of literatures and and historical artifacts that defined an important aspect of “Kashmiriyat.” It was the formation of the Constituent Assembly of J & K to institutionalize the Constitution of the State in 1951, which was an enormous leap toward the process of democratization. It was the fundamental right of both women and men to free education up to the university level. It was, constitutionally, equal opportunities afforded to both sexes in the workplace. It was the nurturing of a contact zone in social, political and intellectual ideologies and institutions. It was pride in a cultural identity that was generated in a space created by multiple perspectives.
Trust cannot be won and unity cannot be maintained by the display of national chauvinism and erosion of Kashmiriyat

Ilhan Omar says US should reconsider aid to Israel


Rep. Ilhan OmarIlhan OmarScaramucci calls on GOP to save country from Trump 'depredations'The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worriesMueller report fades from political conversationMORE (D-Minn.) said Monday that U.S. aid to Israel should be tied to its treatment of Palestinians, questioning whether the funds should continue after the country blocked her and Rep. Rashida TlaibRashida Harbi TlaibScaramucci calls on GOP to save country from Trump 'depredations'The Hill's Morning Report - Trump searches for backstops amid recession worriesMueller report fades from political conversationMORE (D-Mich.) from visiting in an official capacity.
Omar had planned to travel with Tlaib to Israel this month until the Israeli government announced last week that it would deny them both entry, citing their past criticism.
Omar and Tlaib, the first two Muslim women elected to Congress, held a joint press conference on Monday to denounce that decision, which came after President TrumpDonald John TrumpFacebook releases audit on conservative bias claimsHarry Reid: 'Decriminalizing border crossings is not something that should be at the top of the list'Recessions happen when presidents overlook key problemsMORE tweeted that it would show "great weakness" for Israel to allow the two lawmakers into the country.
Omar suggested that lawmakers reconsider the annual U.S. aid allocated to Israel in response.
"We give Israel more than $3 [billion] in aid every year. This is predicated on them being an important ally in the region and the only democracy in the Middle East. But denying a visit to duly elected members of Congress is not consistent with being an ally, and denying millions of people freedom of movement or expression or self-determination is not consistent with being a democracy," Omar said at the press conference in St. Paul, Minn.
Omar, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, also argued that U.S. aid should be contingent upon Israel's activity in Palestine.
"We must be asking, as Israel's ally, that [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu’s government stop the expansion of settlements on Palestinian lands and ensure full rights for Palestinians if we are to give them aid," Omar said.
Israel is one of the biggest recipients of U.S. foreign aid, according to the Congressional Research Service. The U.S. and Israeli governments signed a new 10-year memorandum of understanding in 2016, with the U.S. pledging to provide $38 billion in military aid to Israel that runs through fiscal 2028.
Omar expressed gratitude for the "solidarity" from other Democrats who have expressed outrage at Israel's decision to bar her and Tlaib. At least two progressives, Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) and Mark PocanMark William PocanOmar says US should reconsider aid to IsraelTrump crosses new line with Omar, Tlaib, Israel moveLiberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entryMORE (D-Wis.), have called for refraining from visiting Israel until all members of Congress can go.
But Omar called on fellow lawmakers to visit the country to conduct congressional oversight.
"It is my belief that, as legislators, we have an obligation to see the reality there for ourselves. We have a responsibility to conduct oversight over our government's foreign policy and what happens with the millions of dollars we send in aid. So I would encourage my colleagues to visit," Omar said. 
Ocasio-Cortez, a close ally of Omar and Tlaib, tweeted last week that "Netanyahu’s discriminatory decision to ban members of Congress from Israel harms int’l diplomacy. ... Sadly, I cannot move forward w scheduling any visits to Israel until all members of Congress are allowed."
Pocan, a co-chairman of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, also said that lawmakers should reconsider visits and aid to Israel in response.
"No more members of Congress, no delegations, should be going to Israel unless this decision is reversed. And I think we're going to have to have some serious conversations even about financial support," Pocan told The Hill.
The call from Pocan came after dozens of lawmakers in both parties visited Israel on congressional delegations this month over the August recess, including House Majority Leader Steny HoyerSteny Hamilton HoyerOmar says US should reconsider aid to IsraelLiberal Democrat eyes aid cuts to Israel after Omar, Tlaib denied entryLawmakers blast Trump as Israel bars door to Tlaib and OmarMORE (D-Md.) and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthyKevin Owen McCarthyOmar says US should reconsider aid to IsraelI'm not a Nazi, I'm just a dude: What it's like to be the other Steve KingTrump finds consistent foil in 'Squad'MORE (R-Calif.).
Omar and Tlaib said Virgin Islands Del. Stacey PlaskettStacey PlaskettOmar says US should reconsider aid to IsraelSchumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violenceHouse Democrat backtracks, will now donate Epstein's campaign contributionsMORE (D) had also been slated to join them for their trip. Omar said the trip was scheduled to include meetings with members of the Israeli Knesset, Palestinian civil society groups and United Nations officials, despite Netanyahu's claim that their trip itinerary "revealed that they planned a visit whose sole objective is to strengthen the boycott against us and deny Israel’s legitimacy."
"The decision to ban me and my colleague, the first two Muslim American women elected to Congress, is nothing less than an attempt by an ally of the United States to suppress our ability to do our jobs as elected officials," Omar said.
The Netanyahu government said it would still allow Tlaib, who is Palestinian American, to enter the country to visit her grandmother if she filed a humanitarian request. Tlaib initially filed a request and said that she would not vocalize her support for the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement against Israel while in the region.
But she reversed course a day later after speaking with her family, recounting how her grandmother calls her her "free bird."
"She said I'm her dream manifested. I'm her free bird. So why would I come back and be caged and bow down when my election rose her head up high, gave her dignity for the first time?" Tlaib said Monday, growing emotional.
"And so through tears at 3 o'clock in the morning, we all decided as a family that I could not go until I was a free American United States congresswoman coming there not only to see my grandmother but to talk to Palestinian and Israeli organizations that believed my grandmother deserved human dignity as much as anyone else does."

The Easter Sunday Bombings and the Crisis Facing Sri Lanka’s Muslims

A.R.M. Imtiyaz
 
Department of Political Science/Asian Studies, Temple University, USA

Journal of Asian and African Studies
1–14
Abstract

This paper primarily examines the Easter Sunday bombing plotted and executed by a group of Sri Lankan Muslims and post-war Sri Lankan conditions among Sri Lankan Muslims, also known as Moors. The article will attempt to argue that (a) the post-war violence and organized Islamophobia among non-Muslim communities in general and the Sinhalese in particular increased fears and distrust among Sri Lankan Muslims in general; and (b) state concessions to Muslim political leaders, who supported successive Sri Lankan ruling classes from independence through the defeat of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in 2009, have meant an isolation of the community from the other two main ethnic communities. The concessions that the Muslim community has won actively helped the Muslim community to be proactive in its religious practices and thus paved the way for exclusive social and political choices. The rise of Islamic movements and mosques in the post-1977 period galvanized Muslims. In time this isolation has been reinforced by socio-religious revival among Muslims whose ethnic identity has been constructed along the lines of the Islamic faith by Muslim elites. Despite this revival it has been clear that the Muslim community has been reluctant to use Islamic traditions and principles for peace building, which could have helped to ease tensions, brought about by the 30-year-old ethnic conflict. Finally, some pragmatic ways to ease tensions between Muslims and non- Muslims in the greater discipline of conflict resolution are explored using traditions within Islam.
 

Keywords

Sri Lanka, Easter Sunday, bombing, Wahhabism/Sufism, masjid, monk, Islamophobia, Halal, identity, conflict, peace
 
 

Introduction

“Why?” That was the key question shared by many observers when they were astonished by the wave of highly coordinated and well-planned suicide bombing by nine Sri Lankan Muslim men on Easter Sunday morning, 21 April 2019, that ripped through Colombo, capital of Sri Lanka and Batticaloa, a major city in the Eastern Province of Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka is a state of approximately 20 million people that was previously considered a model of democracy in Asia. A simple answer blames the Arabization of Sri Lankan Muslims, but there are some socio-political as well as

cultural factors that contributed to the Easter bombing, that is now dubbed as Sri Lanka’s “September 11”.
Islamophobia has been one of the major trends in post-war Sri Lanka since 2009. There has been a wave of Islamophobic rhetoric and acts of violence against the Sri Lankan Muslim com- munity being undertaken by extreme Sinhala-Buddhist groups (led by Buddhist monks), with tacit support from politicians, attacking places of worship and Islamic practices such as Halal food certification, cattle slaughter and dress code. Despite some high-profile cases such as a 2012 attack on a mosque in Dambulla, most incidents have received little or no attention locally or internation- ally. Of the accounted reports, there have been 65 cases of attacks on places of religious minority worship bearing the brunt of the violence, be they Christian, non-Theravada Buddhist, Hindu tem- ples or Muslim mosques (Center for Policy Alternatives, 2015). This is seen as part of a coordi- nated hate campaign developed by an extreme Sinhalese-Buddhist organization called Bodhu Bala Sena (BBS), which has been responsible for inciting hatred, evident in the June 2014 attacks on Muslim businesses in Aluthgama, Beruwala, Shargatown and Dehiwala (Aluthgama Under Siege). Why has the Sri Lankan state (predominantly led by its Sinhala-Buddhist constituents) now turned its back on the Muslim minority, given their close historical relationship? In particular, since Sri Lankan Muslims are considered to be a community that bridges the language gap between the Tamils and the Sinhalese, with a heritage of conflict transformation principles from the Islamic traditions, questions can be asked as to why they have not emerged as true peace makers in the country. Islam as a religion and a tradition is replete with teachings and practices of non-violence and peace building. Sri Lanka was involved in a 28-year civil war which caused the deaths of hun- dreds of thousands of people and the displacement of millions, coming to a bloody end in May 2009 (Haviland, 2009). Of course, there is no comprehensive and widely accepted theory of the causes and consequences of ethno-political conflict (Gurr, 1994). Instead, there are many factors that can lead to tensions between groups of people. This is true of the ethno-religious conflicts in Sri Lanka, which have largely been based on ethno-religious political difference; there has also been a conflation of economic, social and political interests that have determined a challenge in
finding a space for all three major communities (and other ethnicities) to co-exist.
 

Some brief notes on Sri Lankan Muslims and their non-Tamil identity

The Sri Lankan Muslim community is scattered across the island with the majority (62%) living outside of the north and east of Sri Lanka where the Sinhalese predominate, and with about 38% of the Muslim population living in the Tamil-dominated north and east. Initially the Muslims mainly inhabited the coastal areas of Sri Lanka but over time some of them moved into the interior. Today the majority (62%) live in the south of Sri Lanka, amid the Sinhalese, the remaining 38%, though, are established in the Tamil-dominated north and east, the region claimed by the Tamils as their traditional homeland (Imtiyaz, 2009). In a context where census-taking has become politi- cized, it is noteworthy that Muslims have become a majority in the Amparai District of Eastern Province, which is part of this region (Department of Census and Statistics–Sri Lanka, 2007). When the Tamil insurrection flared up in the 1980s, most Muslims pointedly stood aside. This is one of the main reasons the Tamil Tigers (the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam or LTTE) were always opposed to Muslim participation in any peace talks.
A central aspiration of the Muslims in contemporary Sri Lanka, according to McGilvray (1997), is their desire to develop a non-Tamil identity based on Islam. Radically shifting political develop- ments, according to Ali (1997), “have made them realize that their interest lies in holding fast to


 
the religion of Islam and not to any ethnic category”. But the Muslims of the north and east blame the Tamils for pushing them in this direction. Gripped by demographic anxiety and locked in com- petition with the Tamils for control over economic and land resources, they turned to religion as a way of bolstering their cohesion. This was a key factor in the formation of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) in the mid-1980s (at a time when the Muslims had established informal and formal contacts with the Sri Lanka state forces with a view to fighting against the Tamil Tigers).
However, the Muslims living in the south and west of Sri Lanka have not shown any similar inclination to support an exclusive Muslim party, despite also being increasingly marginalized by the majority Sinhalese. Why not? There are two major reasons. First, the Muslims from outside the north and east believe that the Sinhalese-dominated United National Party (UNP) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) accommodate their needs, especially those of the Muslim political elites who lead them, because these parties have given some significant (and not-so-significant) ministerial portfolios and positions to Muslims, in addition to substantial business benefits. Secondly, unlike their brethren in the non-North and Eastern Muslims have not been confronted with organized violence at the hands of Sinhalese-Buddhist extremist groups targeting their iden- tity and existence.
There are contradictions facing the identity of Muslims in Sri Lanka and how they are classified and classify themselves. This has been in opposition to how other communities have described themselves. The constructivist approach aptly describes identity formation. Constructivists view ethnic identities as a product of human actions and choices, arguing that they are constructed and transmitted, and not genetically inherited, from the past (Taras and Ganguly, 2002: 4). As quoted in Imtiyaz and Stavis’ (2008) study on ethnic conflict in Sri Lanka, “Max Weber was one theorist who stressed the social origin of ethnic identity. Weber viewed each ethnic group as a ‘human group’ whose belief in a common ancestry (whether or not based in genetic reality) leads to the formation of a community (2008: 8).” Various constructivists have suggested that the desire to build armies and improve military capabilities, the failure of industrialization to create a homoge- neous cultural structure and market, and the development of standardized communication systems, all made it possible to imagine and invent communities (Posen, 1993: 80–124).
In Sri Lanka, because of Sri Lanka’s ethno-nationalist identity politics, the Muslim community, led by its political elites, has been forced to define itself as an “other” that is neither Sinhalese nor Tamil but Muslim. This identity has been a reactive force for Muslims because it was developed by Muslim elites “as a response to Sinhala and Tamil ethno-nationalistic ideologies” (Ali, 1997: 22–25). These formations, or how Muslims define themselves, are a by-product of social and political mobilization to secure rights and markets. Hence the situation today in Sri Lanka is that the Muslims are the only Sri Lankan ethnic group bearing a religious rather than a linguistic, ethnic or racial name, i.e. faith is not only a theological marker (a moral motivator) but also an identity marker (a communal galvanizer). This means that tensions and fault lines along racial and religious lines remain.
 

The Easter bombing bombers, the pre-Easter anti-Muslim campaigns, the bombers’ supposed motivations and the entrance of Islamic State

The bombers

The Easter Day bomb blasts at three Sri Lankan churches and four hotels killed around 259 people, including at least 45 foreign nationals (US Official, Injured In Sri Lanka Suicide Attack, Dies In Hospital) and wounded hundreds more, following a lull in major attacks since the end of the civil


 
war 10 years previously (The Times of India, 2019). The Islamic State (IS) group has claimed responsibility for the attacks (Winsor and Jovanovic, 2019). The report (BBC, 2019) claimed that IS targeted “members of the US-led coalition and Christians in Sri Lanka”.
Sri Lankan authorities remain unsure of the group’s involvement despite IS’s claim of responsi- bility, though authorities are investigating whether foreign militants advised, funded or guided the local bombers. Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local extremist group, National Towheed Jamaat (NTJ), whose leader, alternately named Mohammed Zahran or Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches. All of the eight bomb- ers were Sri Lankan Muslim citizens, including 34-year-old NTJ leader Mohamed Zahran, who “was one of two suicide bombers who blew themselves up at the Shangri-La hotel” (Amarasingham, 2019).
The other bomber at the Shangri-La was identified by Sri Lankan officials as Ilham Ibrahim, the 31-year-old son of one of Sri Lanka’s richest spice traders. He is believed to have been a driving force behind the organization of the attacks. Ilham’s elder brother Inshaf Ibrahim, whose father had set him up with a copper pipe factory, blew himself up at the Cinnamon Grand hotel. Some inves- tigators believe their wealth possibly financed the entire plot. In Negombo, 20 miles north of the capital, Achchi Muhammadu Mohamed Hasthun, who is suspected of being one of the bomb mak- ers, detonated his suicide device at St. Sebastian’s Church. (Ibid)
Abdul Lathief Jameel Mohamed, one of the terrorists, lived in London and spent a year at Kingston University on an aerospace engineering course in the academic year 2006/7, before trav- elling to Melbourne in Australia for a postgraduate course (The Telegraph, 2019).
 

Why did they resort to terrorism?

Political violence is often a by-product of socio-economic tensions. Given the numerous cleavages and tensions in post-colonial societies, the factor that influences whether and how political vio- lence breaks out is the way in which the political system deals with the tensions. Do political lead- ers and/or their supporters aggravate the tensions until they explode in violence? Do they recruit people to instigate acts of violence and then condone and protect them? In many cases, elite politi- cal leaders and/or their supporters believe they can win support and strengthen their positions by mobilizing along ethnic cleavages by resorting to violence or aggressive campaigns of hatred against the others. They anticipate that appeals to ethnic or religious hatred will be particularly effective in expanding or winning their power. Leaders sometimes encourage followers to use crude violence – pogroms or ethnic cleansing – or to exploit ethnic tensions in electoral politics. Outbidding opponents along ethnic lines is one of the strategies to win votes in (fragmented) socie- ties that hold elections. This process frequently results in a polarization of the political system into ethnic divisions and a possible breakdown into violence. Marginalized minorities may suffer, emi- grate or fight back with the weapons of the weak – terrorism and/or guerrilla activities (Brass,  1985). In this theoretical understanding, it is important to raise the question: what has motivated some Muslims to pursue violence? Have the rising tide of anti-Muslim campaigns in the island made some young and educated Muslims willingly turn themselves into suicide bombers?
Since the end of the ethnic civil war in Sri Lanka in May 2009, one of the major trends in Sri Lanka is the emergence of anti-Muslim actions by Sinhala-Buddhists groups such as the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS-translated as the Buddhist Power Force).1 The campaign both online and on the ground has manifested in multiple forms, ranging from calls to boycott Muslim companies and Halal products, women’s clothing, to protests outside Muslim-owned retail outlets (Imtiyaz and Mohamed-Saleem, 2015).


 
Though many parts of southern Sri Lanka have been the target areas of anti-Muslim campaigns by Sinhala-Buddhist extremist groups, the North-Western Province has been in recent times been a hotbed of activity (Jayaraj, 2013). The activities (the carrying of placards depicting Allah as a pig and burning of an effigy marked as Allah) are not only considered to be offensive to Muslims, but also in the case of Sri Lanka Muslims, go to the heart of attacking the sense of identity and values they have been practising. In March 2018, a new wave of attacks by the Sinhala-Buddhist extrem- ists further increased insecurity and fears among Sri Lanka Muslims. The mob carefully targeted Muslims, their properties and places of worship. The wave of violence was reportedly sparked by an incident of road rage involving a Sinhalese truck driver and a group of Muslim men in Kandy district in the central highlands on 22 February. The latter assaulted the Sinhalese driver, which resulted in his death at a hospital a few days later. The day after his death, Sinhalese mobs went on a rampage, attacking Muslims and burning their homes, shops and vehicles. The violence has since spread to other districts (Yousuf, 2018).
The wave of violence against Muslims since 2012 helped polarize the Sri Lankan polity while eroding the trust of Muslims in general over Sri Lanka’s state and its insitutions. This trend chal- lenged Sri Lanka’s stability because it resulted in a polarization and a possible breakdown into violence by some Muslims. The statement from Sri Lanka Thowheed Jamath (SLTJ) President
A.K. Hisham during his testimony before the Parliament Select Committee (PSC) appointed to probe the circumstances behind the Easter Sunday attack suggested that the 21 April terrorists “may have resorted to terrorism after the Beruwala and Digana incidents” (‘Zaharan came to Akkaraipattu a month prior to April 21 attack’, Onlanka, 2019). My communications in May 2019 with some Muslim university students from the South Eastern University and some lecturers sug- gested that Muslims were frustrated with the violence targeted against the Muslims by Sinhala mobs (Interviews were conducted via skype and wechat around 25 Sri Lankan Muslims. 15 of them are men and 10 of them are women aged between 20–55 from Colombo, Sainthamaruthu, Galle, Gampaha and Jaffna districts, 2019). Some of them shared concerns that some Muslims might mirror the Tamil Tigers to punish the state and its institutions.
It is theoretically expected that the violence unleashed on Muslims could provoke a strong response from Muslim youth. It could be a triggering factor for radicalizing Muslim youth. Though the Muslim community in Sri Lanka has kept itself busy with business and trade, carefully planned violence by Sinhala mobs could have pushed some Muslims to resort to violence by marginalizing Muslim moderates and democratic political representations.
 

Why did bombers target Christian places of worship?

As discussed above, the Muslim community has been the major target of Sinhala mobs since the end of the civil war with the Tamil Tigers. However, the Easter Sunday terrorist attackers carefully targeted Christian churches and Christians, who have been facing intimidation and violence from the Sinala mobs. Christians are a well-integrated community in Sri Lanka and “apart from militant Buddhist extremists, they have not been targeted either by the government or by other elements in society” (Shapiro, Ari interview with Schmalz, Mathew, NPR April 2019). This leads to a critical question: why did bombers target Christians and their places of worship?
There is no solid answer to the question. But “pro-Islamic State posts on social media claim that the attacks were a response to the Christchurch, New Zealand, mosque shootings that killed 50 Muslims. The Sri Lankan government has also concluded that the Christchurch shootings were what inspired the attack (De Votta, 2019).” But the murder of Muslim worshippers in New Zealand had nothing to do with Sri Lanka or Sri Lankans. So why was the country chosen?


 
IS basically harbours a very strict form of Islamic identity of “narratives rooted in a binary of ‘believers’ versus ‘infidels’” (De Votta, 2019). An attack on Muslims by infidels, for IS, is an attack on the entire Muslim community across the world. This world view may encourage an attack on those infidels who target Muslims anywhere. “As far as the Islamic State and its affiliates are con- cerned, then, Sri Lankan Christians qualify to being attacked” (De Votta, 2019). According to this line of understanding, any country with a Christian population may become a target for IS and its affiliates if needed. The IS attacks may be staged in a country where security is being compromised due to internal political power struggles and divisions.
Another powerful reason as to why Sri Lanka was picked by IS attempts to establish a link between rising Islamophobia and the real or perceived marginalization of Sri Lanka Muslims by anti-Muslim attacks. IS was able to attract Muslims across the world for its global campaign so it transformed into a transnational Islamic movement. “It may turn out that some of the suicide bombers had traveled to Islamic State redoubts in the Middle East, but even if none did, the anti- Muslim sentiment that has bubbled up in Sri Lanka since 2012 was arguably sufficient to radicalize Sri Lankan Muslims at home” (De Votta, 2019).
 

The role of Islamic State

Two days after the terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka, “the IS took credit for the bombings” (Srinivasan, 2019). Though Muslims in Sri Lanka were aware of IS’ ideologies and it’s political mobilizations in the Middle East, there was no any obvious sign of the IS military mobilization in Sri Lanka.
Sri Lankan authorities have blamed a local extremist group, NTJ, but, there is no conclusive evidence that IS planned, guided and executed the terrorist attacks. It seems that NTJ – whose leader, Zahran Hashmi, became known to Muslim leaders three years ago for his incendiary online speeches against non-Muslims – was attracted by the IS campaigns and mobilizations in the Middle East. This “attraction” does not help to establish a direct link between Mohammed Zahran and his team and IS. Sri Lankan authorities have not established any conclusive evi- dences to blame IS for the 21 April terrorist attacks. However, in 2016 Sri Lankan authorities claimed that “thirty-two Sri Lankan Muslims from ‘well-educated and elite’ families have joined Islamic State in Syria” (Aneez, 2016). The government spokesperson claimed that “all these (Muslims) are not from ordinary families. These people are from the families which are consid- ered as well-educated and elite” (Aneez, 2016). Muslim civil society organizations such as the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL), an umbrella body that includes most Muslim organiza- tions in the country, rejected the statement from Sri Lanka authorities, saying the statement came at a “very opportune time to certain extremist elements bent on tarnishing the image” of Sri Lankan Muslims (Aneez, 2016).
Though there is no conclusive evidence to establish a link between IS and the 21 April terror- ists, it is true that during the ethnic civil war against the Tamil Tigers, “there is discontent among Muslims, particularly among the young in some areas” (Luthra, 2004), and it radicalized a section of the eastern Muslims (Imtiyaz, 2005). Radicalization among eastern Muslims was confined to a basic level and a remarkable number of the Muslims of the region are active in embracing the radical Islamic ideology to eradicate all ethnic identities and make religious identity paramount. Unemployment, frustration and Tamil violence as well as the inability of the Muslim political representations to fix the problems of the Muslims of the east motivated some Muslims to adopt violence. Such groups are active though “they are small and not a major security threat” (International Crisis Group, 2007: 3).
Since the end of the civil war against the Tamil Tigers, Muslims, who supported the state against the Tamil Tigers, expected the peace, but experiences suggest that Sri Lankan Muslims in southern


 
Sri Lanka have become the target of Sinhala-Buddhist mobs. However, there is no evidence at this point to prove that IS has been exploiting Sri Lankan Muslims’ grievances for its own agenda.
 

State concessions to Sri Lankan Muslim elites

In deeply divided democratic societies, politicians would employ different vote outbidding policies to win votes. In Sri Lanka, since independence, Sinhala politicians attached to the major political parties promised attractive policies to woo minority politicians. Minority politicians benefited from Sinhala politicians’ offer of cabinet positions, and other significant and non-significant posi- tions and packages.
Sri Lankan Muslim politicians won various political and administrative positions as both Tamil and Christian politicians won in post-independence Sri Lanka. It is true that though Muslims in Sri Lanka are a numerically small community, their elites have won significant political and religious concessions for the community from the time of independence. State concessions such as ministe- rial positions, giving cultural autonomy to Muslims were made possible to the fact that Muslims are placed as a second order minority in deeply divided ethno-religious make-up and politics. The close links the Muslims had with the Sinhalese in trade and business, and the strategy of political opportunism to win political and social benefits, ensured security (mainly from the Tamils) and safeguarded their commercial interests. These benefits prompted the Muslim elite to lean towards the Sinhalese political establishments.
While the cooperation of the Muslim elite with the Sinhalese ruling class won important minis- terial portfolios for Muslims in successive governments, the resulting economic and social benefits ensured their freedom to practise their religion (such as to establish mosques and madrassas, and issue Halal food certification). Thus the Muslim masses largely remained untroubled by the con- flict (except those in the north and east directly engaged with the Tamil community). By “appeas- ing” the Muslims who welcomed state concessions to their faith, which is rooted in Arabic culture and identity, mainly those outside of the north and east of the country, in this manner, the identity of the Muslims was further compounded within a socio-cultural and religious framework. In other words, state concessions to Muslim elites contributed to the rise of a conservative form of Islam among Sri Lankan Muslims at the popular level. It is true that the state also provided concessions both to Tamil and Catholic minorities. The concessions both Tamils and Catholics won from the state are mainly political in nature. But the concessions from the state to Muslim elites basically empowered Muslim identity formation and religious bases; for example, hundreds of madrassas were established in Sri Lanka after 1983 in areas where Muslims would have significant domina- tion, including in Colombo.
Muslim politicians won their votes from their Muslim constituencies by promising religious benefits such as the allocation of lands for mosques and madrassa buildings. Muslim voters responded to Muslim politicians’ symbolic appeals, which are fundamentally the Middle East in nature due to their Arab ancestry. Muslim politicians, by and large, delivered their promises and thus contributed to the isolation.
Mosques and madrassa buildings are being built without much resistance from local Sinala authorities. As for madrassas, local madrassas often target economically weaker sections of Muslims, who are very proud of their Arab culture and the Middle Eastern background. The stu- dents are being taught in Tamil, but madrassas pay significant attention to teaching both Arabic language and Islam (Gafoordeen et al., 2013). Madrassa students are not being trained in any mod- ern education or English. The madrassa managements often hostile to any constructive suggestions from Muslim scholars (Interview, 2019). According to a key authority on madrassas in Colombo, classes are often conducted by poorly educated teachers who have no meaningful knowledge of


 
modernity. Though Muslim scholars want the Sri Lankan state to take action to regulate madrassa education, successive Sri Lankan administrations did not take any actions to regulate madrassas. It is partly because of fear of losing Muslim support for power mobilization.
Apart from madrassas, there exist Arabic Colleges in Sri Lanka.2 “At the moment, there are more than 205 Madrasas registered as Arabic Colleges (AC). Most of them are following the Dar’s
- e- Nizami syllabusIndia madrasa system in teaching and management. These colleges are private intuitions registered under the act of Muslim cultural affairs of Sri Lanka” (Gafoordeen et al., April 2013). These Arabic Colleges’ curricula are poorly organized and do not include any teaching on science or technology (Ibid). Also, the Arabic language teachers of arabic colleges have not trained to teach the Arabic language. The teaching environment is not suitable for a range of aptitude of students in a class.
Madrassas in Sri Lanka have functioned out of mainstream education supervision and manage- ment until June 2019 (Madrassas to be regulated under ministry of education: DG ISPR, 2019). Actions are being taken to “include contemporary subjects” and “madrassas will be under the Ministry of Education (Madrassas to be regulated under ministry of education: DG ISPR, 2019). My personal communication with madrassa teachers and management in 2018 in Colombo sug- gested that madrassa students are being guided to hate the West and to consolidate a pan-Arabic identity for Muslims in Sri Lanka. Therefore, it is important note that state concessions over mad- rassas and Arabic Colleges for Muslims helped galvanize Muslims, while pushing Muslims into an isolated socio-cultural spaces.
With emphasis on religious identity now being thrust upon its political and social circles, the Muslim community was able to extract cultural concessions from the state, which only served to harden this “ethno-religious” identity and provide a solid platform for an Islamic “exclusivism”. The rise of mosque building in Sri Lanka is one of the key concessions Muslim politicians have won from successive administrations. For Muslims, mosques play a central role in their life and existence. Local law and order institutions paid little or no attention to ensuring whether any new mosque constructions would get an official approval. In May 2019, “Colombo Mayor Rosy Senanayake requested Mowlavis to get unregistered mosques registered with the CMC considering the current situation prevailing in the country” (Mayor urges unregistered mosques to be regis- tered, 2019).
The identity of Sri Lankan Muslims was further influenced as a result of the global Islamic reformation process that took place, post-Iranian revolution, coupled with Middle Eastern petro- dollar funding, spurring large-scale movements to spread Islam and migration of people for Middle Eastern employment. It is important to note that the UNP’s economic policies to liberalize the Sri Lankan economy in 1978 opened the doors for economically weaker sections of Muslims to seek job opportunities in the Middle East in general and Saudi Arabia in particular. My communications with Muslims who secured jobs in the Middle Eastern countries suggest that they became more religious when they were in the Middle East (Interview, 2019). During the 1980s, Sri Lankan eth- nic conflict between the Tamils and Sinhalese triggered instability and thus seriously destabilized the country. Muslims who live in the north and east confronted challenges. Those challenges, according to some Muslims, solidified Muslims’ Arabic identity by consolidating their non-Tamil identity. This trend also became obvious when Muslims were targeted by Sinhala-Buddhist mobs from 2012. That is to say that the rising violence against Muslims in cosmopolitan areas such as Kandy and Galle increased insecurity among Muslims. Some Muslims embraced Muslim identity markers such as the niqab, abaya or praying five times a day as a measure of protection. They,  according to my communications with some of them (Interview, 2019), thought that their God, Allah, would protect them from evil schemes planned and executed by non-Muslims, or Kafirs.


 
The Sinhala-Buddhist extremists see the rise of Muslim symbols such as the niqab and mosques as the ‘Islamization’ of Sri Lanka, but in deeply divided democratic societies, this type of conces- sion may be an inevitable result of political bargaining, but such concessions may be politicized by dominant forces for their own power mobilization.
 

Easing tensions between Muslims and non-Muslims

The homogeneous element (or Ummah, as described above) is being seized upon as a negative trend (especially with the Sinhala-Buddhist extremists) arguing that the ‘Islamization’ of Sri Lanka opens the door to extremist tendencies. Yet it perhaps can also be a “saving grace” to see how tensions can be eased by Muslims between Muslims and non-Muslims. In order for this to happen, one must look within the Muslim community, understanding their own traditions, princi- ples and values.
Using the fact that faith is both a moral motivator and theological marker, it is imperative to understand the concept of a developing Islamic jurisprudence principle, called fiqh al-aqaliyy’at (jurisprudence of minorities). This has been used so far to look at the situation of Muslim minori- ties living in the West facing the challenges of a secular law and culture as well as issues of identity and citizenship that have taken a turn for the worse in the aftermath of 9/11.
The fiqh (jurisprudence) tradition has engaged in considerable detail with the status of non- Muslim minorities living in Muslim-majority societies but not with the position of Muslim minori- ties residing in non-Muslim-majority countries. Large-scale migration of Muslims to Western countries as a twentieth-century post-colonial phenomenon has, for the most part, prompted the rethinking of this condition which has applicability for the Muslim context in Sri Lanka.
In essence, the tradition reaffirms the notion and provides theological paradigms that guide  Muslim minorities, who are expected to observe the ethical guidelines of Islam and its essentials as well as the guidelines of the Qur’an and Sunnah concerning their relations with the followers of other religions. In short, they must accordingly cultivate mutual respect and friendship with their host communities. Many Muslim scholars of standing have subscribed to the view that Muslims living in non-Muslim-majority countries must live as law-abiding citizens. They are also expected to be honest and trustworthy, and remain open to beneficial changes that help them live in peace and harmony (March, 2009).
Fiqh al-aqalliyāt is widely regarded as a new field of study. Yet many scholars who have spoken on the subject have considered it as an extension of the rich edifice of fiqh (March, 2009). Nevertheless, the objectives of fiqh al-aqalliyāt are somewhat more specific due to the new condi- tions and challenges faced by Muslim minorities and it is important that Islamic texts and scrip- tures are read and interpreted in the light of historical and contemporary developments.
When tackling newly emerging issues among minorities in quest of a response to the chal- lenges they face, the jurist is advised to pay attention to considerations of public interest (maÎlaÍah) that include the interests of these groups as well as the communities and nations in which they reside. It is also acknowledged that some of the issues faced may need to be addressed in a wider context, even outside the scopes respectively of fiqh and law due to the need to move abreast with the dynamics of political and economic developments affecting the lives of Muslim minorities. In sum, fiqh al-aqalliyāt would be unable to meet its desired objectives without a degree of openness to the influence of other disciplines and non-fiqh sources, such as sociology, economics, medi- cine, law and political science. To meet these challenges, Muslim scholars and researchers are similarly advised to take into consideration the higher goals and purposes (maqasÎid) of Shariah (Hussain, 2016).


 
Fiqh of minorities should aim, according to several leading maxims (Hussain, 2016), at bring- ing ease and relief to minorities to enable them to overcome their difficulties. Muslim minorities should be able not only to preserve their religious identity but also to perform their civic duties as good citizens of their respective countries. It is imperative, then, to vindicate justice and fair deal- ings as the higher objectives of Islam and the pillars of peace and honorable living for all those who wish to live in peace and harmony with one another.
In Sri Lanka, as mentioned above, Muslims are being identified with Islam and Middle Eastern culture. There is a likelihood of manipulation of the Muslim identity by external Islamic forces such as IS. The terrorist bombings of 21 April clearly indicate that pan-Arabic Islamic terrorist movements have eyes on Sri Lanka and they would exploit the local tensions and aspirations to meet their own agendas. Since Sri Lankan Muslims’ identity is deeply attached to pan-Arabic sym- bols, it is rather easy for external Islamists to use and misuse Sri Lankan Muslims for their own agendas. The key revelation related to the radicalization of Muslims three years ago claimed that “thirty-two Sri Lankan Muslims from ‘well-educated and elite’ families have joined Islamic State in Syria” (Aneez, 2016). Muslim community leaders casted doubts about the development (Aneez, 2016), but democratic representations of the Muslim community failed to recognize the rising radi- calization among a section of Muslims.
It is important for minority community leaders to seek political priorities, demands and choices that would not lead to unnecessary mistrust and tensions in a society where the majority has politi- cal domination and cleavages. This does not suggest that minorities learn to live as obediently as they can, but in democratic, but divided, societies such political leaning may help generate peace and confidence at the popular level. In Sri Lanka, Muslim elites need to seek better ways to manage tensions with non-Muslim communities. Muslim political leaders in Sri Lanka are no exception to Downs’ theory that political leaders make choices or “formulate policies in order to win elections” (Downs, 1957: 28).
To seek an intervention, Muslim leaders need to recognize their own community’s crisis. As discussed above, due to the nature of politics and the conflict in Sri Lanka, the Muslim community has been forced to define itself and seek its own discourse. While Muslims are aware of the chal- lenges they face, they have to be able to understand where they have gone wrong. While there is a realization that exclusive social practices and value-practice among Muslims themselves have to be curtailed, this has to allow for the beginning of a potential conversation in ensuring that tensions can be alleviated.
 

Concluding remarks

Muslim democratic representations need to play “genuine and responsible” political roles in national affairs. Also, Muslim politicians need to understand the consequences of employing sym- bolic religious slogans to win the votes of Muslims who value religious identity over other traits. It is very likely that too much dependency on religion to just win elections could transform society into the stage where commitments to non-violence can be discouraged as Sri Lanka witnessed on 21 April 2019. Transnational Islamic movements such as IS are very active in recruiting from polarized regions, and Sri Lanka might become a breeding ground for such group recruitment. Therefore, it is very important for Muslim politicians not to use religious symbols and emotional rhetoric to win votes. It is the fact that the current world is highly connected by technology and thus people who have access to modern technology would be able to read and to know the trends that take place beyond their own geographical boarders.
Islamic fundamentalism in Sri Lanka also can be read as a by-product of the state’s cultural and socio-economic concessions in the 1970s and 1980s to the Muslim elites to win Muslim support.


 
Needless to say, the state’s cultural concessions delighted Muslims, but some cultural concessions offered in the past could have provided a solid platform for the recent growth of Islamic exclusiv- ism. It is politically wrong to veil the trend. And denial from the Muslim political establishment about the existence of Islamic fundamentalist trends may reduce the Muslim democratic voices to mere voices that are only aspiring to power.
Rising Islamophobia is one of worrying trends in post-war Sri Lanka. It is important to note that the state is not primarily Islamophobic in Sri Lanka, but politicians and their supporters use anti- minority slogans for power mobilization. Sri Lanka’s electoral history confirms this tendency (Imtiyaz, 2014). But the state may use this Islamophobia from below to woo Sinhala support. This indirect state-supported Islamophobia is equally dangerous as the state would openly identify itself as Islamophobic. Sri Lankan security forces’ failure to act against the Sinhala mobs and certain police forces’ support for the Sinhala mobs to attack Muslims and their properties suggest state complicity in violence against Muslims in May 2019.
As discussed above, growing Islamic fundamentalism, which was and is the by-product of sev- eral socio-political realities, needs to be monitored and contained for a better future. But those measures need to be carefully conducted. Any arbitrary action, including arrests, may serve to ignite both fears and tensions. “On May 17, police in central Sri Lanka arrested Abdul Raheem Mazahina, 47-year-old grandmother, because of the pattern on her dress. During the 17 days that she spent behind bars, guards repeatedly referred to Mazahina as a ‘terrorist’” (Fuller and Rizvie, 2019b). It is the responsibility of the state and Sri Lanka politicians to win over minorities by eas- ing their fears and boosting their confidence. Recent moves by the state such as banning the abaya and niqab “in public in a bid to help police track down wanted terrorists” were not received posi- tively by certain sections of Sri Lanka Muslims (Baker, 2019).
There are several political ways to win over the trust of minorities in democratic plural societies. One of them is to offer meaningful socio-economic concessions. Ruling and/or opposition politi- cians should not promise and/or deliver any religio-cultural concessions to minority politicians. Fears from the majority Sinhalese may be eased when concessions are purely socio-economic rather than religio-cultural concessions.
Importantly, the Sri Lankan state has a responsibility to regulate all religious schools, including madrassas. No funds from foreign countries should be allowed without state supervision to any schools, including religious schools. The syllabus of all religious schools should be prepared by community-approved scholars who have greater understanding of both a particular religion and non-religious education. On the other hand, Sri Lanka’s ruling and opposition Sinhala politicians should not resort to destructive paths to fight extremism. The fight against terrorism should be designed both politically and economically. Strategic mechanisms need to be employed to win over the Muslims, who have been cooperating with the state and its institutions to fight radicals among them even prior to the 21 April terrorist bombings. In sum, the government in Colombo should do more to protect Muslims from revenge attacks and to confront rising Islamophobia.
 

Funding

The authors received no financial support for the research, authorship, and/or publication of this article.
 

ORCID iD


 
 


 

Notes

1.                     BBS is a radical Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalist organization based in Colombo, Sri Lanka that was formed during 2012. BBS seeks the enforcement of Buddhist predominance in Sri Lanka. It has organ- ized various campaigns against the country’s minority Muslim and Christian communities which, according to the organization, pose a threat to Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese-Buddhist identity. BBS engages  in hate speech and attacks against minority religions. Its headquarters are located at Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandira in Colombo. Sri Sambuddha Jayanthi Mandira is owned by the Buddhist Cultural Center, an organization founded by Kirama Wimalajothi.
2.                     “For the record, there are 749 Muslim Schools in Sri Lanka, and 205 madrasas registered under the Department of Muslim cultural affairs which provide Islamic education. The Islamic university in Beruwala (Jamiya Naleemiya) and Two State Universities offer first degree in Arabic and Islamic studies. Two other universities are offering General Degree programmes. Although, Government Teachers Training Colleges (GTTC) and Colleges of Education have been established to train the teachers for teaching Islam, and Arabic language at government schools (Ministry of  Education, 2010). There is a Muslim Religious consultative Board appointed by the Ministry of Education to counsel the government on matters related to the teaching of Islam and Arabic in schools (Ministry     of Education, 2010).  The  Muslim  Unit  of  the  Ministry  of  Education  and  the  National  Institute of Education (NIE) frequently conducts seminars for teachers of Arabic and Islamic studies” (Gafoordeen et al., 2013).
 

===================


A.R.M. Imtiyaz’s research projects examine ethnic conflict and post-war peace in South Asia and China, and he has published widely in scholarly journals both in the US and the UK. He taught ethnic conflict and nation- alism at the Department of Political Science, Temple University, USA, from 2009 to 2017. Currently, he lives in China for his research work.