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Sri Lanka - Moving Towards an Outdated Cultural Context
03 September
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Buddhists expelled from Malaysia for praying in Muslim hal

(RNS) The government of Malaysia expelled a group of Singaporean tourists for chanting Buddhist prayers inside an Islamic prayer room where they erected a large Buddhist painting on the wall facing Mecca.

The government also revoked the permanent resident visa of the businessman who allowed the Buddhists to pray at his beach resort in Johor state, about 185 miles south of Kuala Lumpur, the capital of Muslim-majority Malaysia. .........


Arjuna Seneviratne :

Comments anyone? This is a little bit of a giggle

  Ummu Hana

Hi Arjuna, Thanks for posting the link for discussion. As a global citizen who believe the freedom of choice, I think there should not be an issue of allowing to worship another believer in my pray room.

Such a gesture was the example of prophet Mohamed when he invites non-Muslims to the mosque. Also the Christian father who invited Khaleefa Umar (a companion of the Prophet Mohamed) to make prayers in the church.

As a global Citizen the article shared above of Malaysia as well as the Sri Lankan reality explains that we follow a religion of fear and doubt with lack of confidence, lack mutual understanding and respect while the whole world moved beyond centralized sovereign government to a new structure of networks of governments that depend on each other within and across the region and the globe.

In Sri Lanka Extremist form Buddhists like Champika Ranawake promote sort of Thutugemunu model and goes beyond to say that Buddhist are the sole rulers of this country and Buddhism is the philosophy of land and the rest is relatively secondary. By this extremist take the Buddhism and Buddhist way of life in cornered in to the context of the Thutugemunu era.

On the other hand the Tamil extremist like LTTE promote Ellaalan model (Vanni Kingdom / Tamil Eelam) and willing to fix the Tamil culture and living style in to the models of that era.

Both extreme groups fail to realize the changing context of today with those eras. In the post-colonial Sri Lanka Majority of the people of Sri Lanka accepted the plural life style and live side by side within the centralized government system with unique religious and cultural identities. Surprisingly when our governmental, electoral and divisional administrative structures , as well as other inter-dependent structure are highly ethno-centricly dominated by the influence of politicians the majority of the people of Sri Lanka is live a pluralistic life in practice.

Unfortunately in Sri Lanka the plural societies are being pushed in to an outdated cultural context in multi-directions due to lack of vision to fulfill the national demand of all people in Sri Lanka. Our political parties and extremist groups are dreaming for sovereign Thutugemunu and Ellalan model of governing systems as a solution instead of coming with a vision for to transform the country that is able to provide education and higher education, job opportunities and health and safety protection and reasonable standard of living for all citizens.

I am sure if we can introduce a vision and reform all of the domains, the time will come to see where every religious entity will open their space for another when required and witness mutual respect.

As a global citizen I would say setting up "of vision" and development oriented policies" is the biggest challenge both Malaysia and Sri Lanka faces today.

  Arjuna Seneviratne :

Dear Ummu,

I completely agree that if we truly understand the practice of spirituality, then we should have no problem at all in allowing people of other faiths and denominations to engage in spiritual practice in their churches, mosques and temples. However, I truly doubt that the people of the world are willing or ... even ready for such.

Extremism of any sort is a deadly ill that pervades our planet and unfortunately, its very "fashionable" to be so. Also, it is very easy to trigger negative human emotion via either religious or ethnic differentiation. This is true across the planet - not just in Sri Lanka.

Well, how do we move beyond this type of shallow reasoning? I don't think we can change the mindsets of people collectively. However, we can do this on a one-on-one basis and hope that eventually, this leads to a collective groundswell. Of course, this will take time and a lot of patience and dedication.

   Ummu Hana

In my opinion we still can do some ting collectively as well as at individual level

At collective level as organizations (schools, working places, universities, any other form of organization business or otherwise together with inter-religious organizations in addition to churches, mosques and temples,

Lets discuss how can we introduce this forms to Sri Lanka by creating, engaging and contributing to a wider discourse.

Arjuna Seneviratne :

Friend, at this moment in time, there is no serious possibility of introducing such thinking into institutionalized organs such as schools or churches in the majority. However, there are *some* human beings who belong to such places that clearly think both wide and deep and also act honestly and with compassion. I prefer to work with such individuals.


Read 487623 times Last modified on Thursday, 17 October 2013 18:46

UmmuHana is a reformer, political analyst and social and human rights activist who writes in English and Tamil. UmmuHana contributes on various domains including Pluralism, Reform, Policy review & development and  and cultural studies.


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