Lying off the southern tip of India, the tropical island of Sri Lanka has attracted visitors for centuries with its natural beauty, situation in the sea silk route and the abandoned natural resources. There have been many visitors to SriLanka for many reason all throughout the History. The first ever recorded incident of such is arrival of Prince Vijaya and his followers from Kalinga Empire of Northern India. Arabs, Persians, Portuguese, Dutch and English visited or raided SriLanka for trade, religion and resources. Due to these foreign relations SriLankan Population became more diverse. As for 2012 census SriLankan population consist of the majority Buddhists 79.19%, Muslims 9.71%, Hindus 12.61%, Christians 7.45% and Unclassified 0.05 (Department of Census and Statistics)
When there is diversity there will be diverse ideas which leads to clashes. These clashes should be compromised wisely by preventing violent effects. But SriLankan leaders from the past and present were and are not able to accomplish that. The ethnic conflict between Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and the government of SriLanka is well documented and spanned over three decades. The civil war set back the country’s economy by nearly twenty years and the causalities stands at around 100, 000 at the end of war. This also led to the migration of a community out of SriLanka. This civil war ended in 2009.
In late 2012 a movement called Bodu Bala Sena (something equal to Buddhists army when translated) emerged and threatens that they have overcome the Hindus, and it is time to eradicate the Muslim stronghold from this country. They started their progress by targeting and attacking the mosques situated near Buddhists Monasteries. Later they extended reach towards the Halal Authorization, attacking businesses owned by Muslim and later towards the wearing Hijab. This research paper examines about these issues created by BBS towards peace loving Muslim Community of SriLanka
As for the Bodu Bala Sena, their organization is to build a disciplined Buddhists community. But there are ended up oppressing the Muslim community. The following are the major areas which BBS are targeting the Muslims in SriLanka.
I. Protesting against Halal Certificate.
II. Attacking the Muslim religious places.
III. Vandalising the businesses owned by Muslims.
IV. Banning Niqab and Hijab (Head gear for Muslim women).
This research paper examines these issues.
Protesting against Halal Certificate
Halal certificates has been issued by All Ceylon Jammiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), a body representing Muslim clergymen, In order for Muslim consumers to distinguish the permissible products in the market. The need for halal certification has been realized immensely when a famous super market has sold halal sealed pork. Therefore Muslim theologians and businessman sat for discussion and brought up an idea of issuing halal certification under the supervision of ACJU. As mentioned above this halal issuance became the core reason for ethnic tension in SriLanka.
The BBS has posed many complains to ACJU in this halal issuance process. Their arguments are,
- ACJU forcing companies to get the halal certification
- ACJU gets a large sum of money from this halal. BBS states in a press conference that ACJU gets 1, 75000 LKR from each product and now the Halal certified products has reached 4000 now. Hence ACJU receives a large sum of money through this business (4000* 1, 75000). As a consequence the prices of the product rises.
- ACJU gives these money to terrorist organizations.
With a strong no for these statements ACJU argues the real process for Halal certification and the transparency it has in the process. ACJU strongly disagree that they never forced any companies to gain halal certification. ACJU has set a very small amount of money for this halal process and it denies that it has never contribute to any terrorist groups with the profit they gained from the Halal division.
ACJU has been strongly disagreed the baseless argument of BBS regarding the forceful Halal issuance. ACJU website clearly states the halal certification process (See Appendix 1). If any company wants halal certification to its products, it will contact ACJU head office and gets an application and a SOP (Standard Operational Procedure). SOP consists of Dos and Don’ts of halal process. If a company reads and agrees upon the SOP will fill up the application and send to ACJU head office. Then a team from ACJU will audit the company or the factory, and it will look for the ingredients that has been used during manufacture and so on. Then if it is happened to find a non halal ingredient then ACJU crew will gives them an alternative for that ingredient. Even here ACJU never forces them to change but if the company agrees then ACJU will not hesitate to grant them halal certification. Hence the argument of BBS is baseless and has no truth behind.
ACJU has a transparency and a service policy in charging for the Halal issuance. Until 2010, 145 organizations has this Halal certification for over 4000 products. ACJU divided the business place in to three categories to offer Halal for products. The service charge also depends on the number of products a company has. For instance, ACJU gets 500 LKR from each product per month. So if a company has one product then it must pay 6000LKR yearly. If a company has four products then it must pay 4* 500 LKR per month and 24000 LKR yearly. If a company has more than 100 products then it must pay 25000 LKR per month. Hence from 4000 products ACJU receives approximately 1500000 LKR per month and its expenditures are 1300000 LKR per month (ACJU, 2012). If we were analyse more, around 10 cents (LKR) to be spent for each product. This amount is extremely low and cannot be considered in product cost. If we cannot consider in product cost then it will not have any impact on the price.
As explained in the previous argument ACJU has 1300000LKR of expenditures monthly hence it receives a merely 200000LKR. If we calculate in dollars it’s approximately 1589.83 USD. Does it make sense that this amount can be sent as a donation to terrorist organizations. ACJU has the audit reports of all years and they are open anytime to receive all the crime divisions to audit their firm and find the movement of the money within their institution. Although these evidences suggest that Halal committee is not doing anything against the law, still BBS want them to be out of the picture for sole purpose that they are Muslims.
Attack on Muslim Religious Places
As this paper is written, there is another attack on a mosque is reported in SriLankan Media. A mosque situated in Pojapitiya division in Kandy District. From December 2012, more than 35 mosques in Anuradhapura, Kandy, Colombo, Galle, Ratnapura and Badulla districts have been attacked and vandalised. These are the regions where Muslim live as a large number surrounded by Sinhala majority. The main reason given by BBS for attacking these mosque is that the mosques are situated in “Punya Bhumi” means sacred land, in which only the monasteries of Buddha only be allowed to build.
Vandalising the Business owed by Muslims
Another act of BBS is vandalising Muslim owned businesses. They mainly targeted the major businesses of Muslims. As SriLankan Muslim community is a commercial community many major sectors controls solely by Muslim. Import and Export, Retail fashion chains and Gem Industry are mostly controlled by them. To inactive Muslim they targeted two of the largest fashion dress chain in SriLanka, No Limit and Fashion Bug. BBS criticize that these companies do not provide many job opportunities for Buddhists. And they also threatened the employees from Sinhala community to stop working for Muslims. They also attacked two store rooms in Colombo in front of SriLankan Police. They burn one delivery vehicle too.
Banning head gear for Muslim women
This is a latest issue by Bodu Bala Sena. There are not much development in this regards. But lately the leading government university in Information Technology studies, University of Moratuwa has banned the hijab in university premises. This ban can also be extended towards the other government universities.
There are incidents from some schools in Colombo ordering the Muslim girls not to wear head gear as a uniform as the same time government provide the cloth for head gear as uniform. As well as another Muslim teacher has been instructed by the school principal not to wear hijab, which was declined by the teacher.
SriLankan Muslim Community have been a peace loving community from the early time. Arabian Muslims who were the forefathers of present day Muslim community came to SriLanka for the sake of Business. They married the local women during their stay in the country. During the civil war Muslim did not take any side and pledged help to the government to end the war. With such a history, now Muslim are seen as terrorists who came to capture the country by not all but some from the Buddhist community. This is just the jealousy of the success of Muslim over the Business sector. They are trying to wipe out the contribution of Muslims to SriLanka. With government being blind, deaf and dump for these actions, we can only hope that the time will give a solution for this crisis which may be a starting point of another civil war in SriLanka.
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