Category Archives: Muslims in Lanka

The Eastern Regions of Sri Lanka in British Times

Michael Roberts

My D. Phil dissertation at Oxford in the early 1960s centred on British agrarian policy in the mid-nineteenth century and therefore included the British efforts to revive the tank irrigation systems of the Sinhala past. Several British colonial personnel as well as visiting dignitaries were captivated by the ruins of the Anuradhapura/Polonnaruwa periods which they observed during adventure trips. A few saw it as a challenge for their imperial capacity. Some British governors, notably Ward, Gregory and Gordon, took up the prospect.

 Sir Henry Ward and SJV Chelvanyakam

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under ancient civilisations, British colonialism, caste issues, centre-periphery relations, commoditification, communal relations, cultural transmission, disparagement, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, immigration, Islamic fundamentalism, island economy, land policies, landscape wondrous, life stories, LTTE, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, population, power politics, religiosity, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, Tamil Tiger fighters, the imaginary and the real, trauma, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, women in ethnic conflcits, working class conditions, world events & processes

Experiencing Denigration in Sri Lanka: The Muslims Yesterday and Today

Shamara Wettimuny, in History Workshop, 7 September 2020, where the title runs “The Colonial History of Islamophobic Slurs in Sri Lanka”**

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-faith island. Yet despite centuries of physical coexistence, ethnic, religious and linguistic differences continue to bring communities into conflict. Muslims in Sri Lanka (comprising around 9.7% of the population) are often vilified by both the Sinhalese majority (who are either Buddhist or Christian) and Tamil minority (either Hindu or Christian) for their religious beliefs, practices, and dress. Following the Easter Sunday suicide attacks in April 2019 – carried out by a group of extremists linked to the Islamist group, the National Thowheed Jamaat – the wider Muslim community faced a discriminatory and sometimes violent backlash. In 2020, as COVID-19 spread in Sri Lanka, Muslims were blamed for ‘spreading the disease’, and for wanting to bury their dead in line with traditional Islamic burial practices (as opposed to cremation as stipulated by the Sri Lankan government).

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, atrocities, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, discrimination, disparagement, economic processes, fundamentalism, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, religiosity, riots and pogroms, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, unusual people, world events & processes, zealotry

Fresh Insights on the 4/21 Salafi Bombings in Sri Lanka

Samanth Subramanium, in New York Times, 2 July 2020, where the title reads “Two Wealthy Muslim Brothers became suicide Bombers, but Why?”

There’s a video of the exact moment Inshaf Ibrahim decided to abandon his life as a rich young man and turn into a mass murderer. In one sense, he had made up his mind weeks earlier, which was why he was loitering in the Cinnamon Grand hotel’s breakfast buffet on Easter Sunday last year in Colombo, strapped into a knapsack of explosives. Once he arrived, though, he appeared to dither. Later, investigators picked him out of CCTV footage, standing near a vacant table, wearing a baseball cap and a T-shirt, his back to the camera. In the footage, he moves like a perplexed penguin. Two steps forward, half a step back, a turn, another turn: a choreography of hesitation. Perhaps he is reconsidering? But no, the investigators concluded; he is waiting for more people to come in. Finally, a microsecond of stillness, arms heavy by his side; then his hands reach toward the front of his waist, and the film goes dark.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, arab regimes, atrocities, communal relations, conspiracies, cultural transmission, fundamentalism, historical interpretation, Islamic fundamentalism, jihad, landscape wondrous, legal issues, life stories, martyrdom, Middle Eastern Politics, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, power politics, religious nationalism, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, suicide bombing, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, tourism, unusual people, violence of language, world events & processes, zealotry

Galle Fort Today: Janaka Gallangoda’s Marvellous Lens

Entering the Fort –  Original Entrance with the VOC Plaque **

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under ancient civilisations, cultural transmission, economic processes, ethnicity, heritage, historical interpretation, landscape wondrous, life stories, meditations, Muslims in Lanka, plural society, sri lankan society, tourism, travelogue, unusual people, world events & processes

Imbalanced Task Forces in Sri Lanka?

Jehan Perera, in Island, 30 June 2020, with this title “The Need For Better Representation In Divided Societies”

There has been a trend of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa making senior appointments in which those who are outside the established administrative systems are being brought in to provide leadership and ensure effective and non-corrupt practices.  As a large number of these appointments have been from the security forces this has given rise to a perception that the country is heading towards eventual military rule. There is a concern that the forthcoming general elections will be followed by constitutional changes that will entrench the military in governance as in some other countries such as Myanmar. This is unlikely to be the case in Sri Lanka as democratic traditions upholding civilian control of government are deeply ingrained in the fabric of political society.

Continue reading

1 Comment

Filed under accountability, ancient civilisations, Buddhism, chauvinism, communal relations, democratic measures, discrimination, economic processes, ethnicity, fundamentalism, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, Islamic fundamentalism, language policies, legal issues, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, population, power politics, Rajapaksa regime, reconciliation, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, social justice, tolerance, welfare & philanthophy, working class conditions

Challenging Michael Roberts … with Straight Left and Right Hook

Gerald Peiris ... in the spirit of vigorous debate which we used to pursue in the Arts Faculty and the Ceylon Studies Seminar at Peradeniya University in the late 1960s and the 1970s, Gerry Peiris has responded with two sharply critical notes of some significance to my critical review of Sri Lankan society and politics, an essay that is directed by an optimistic eye …. Ha! Ha! … towards a major overhaul.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, ancient civilisations, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, communal relations, cultural transmission, democratic measures, devolution, discrimination, doctoring evidence, economic processes, Eelam, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, island economy, landscape wondrous, language policies, legal issues, life stories, LTTE, Muslims in Lanka, parliamentary elections, patriotism, politIcal discourse, power politics, reconciliation, security, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil migration, transport and communications, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, working class conditions, world events & processes

Honeycombed with Societal and Political Fissures: Sri Lanka Now & Ever Before

Michael Roberts, reiterating the original draft sent to a few on 10 June 2020

Recent forum discussions on the topic of “Reconciliation” and correspondence with concerned friends have prompted me to essay an analysis of Sri Lanka’s societal problems over the last 150 years. This is a tendentious quest.

This Map showing districts served by Regional Malaria Officers happens to suit the metaphor “Riddled” and/or “Honeycombed” in my title

Continue reading

4 Comments

Filed under accountability, ancient civilisations, British colonialism, centre-periphery relations, chauvinism, communal relations, discrimination, economic processes, Eelam, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, Indian Ocean politics, Islamic fundamentalism, land policies, landscape wondrous, language policies, legal issues, life stories, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, nationalism, politIcal discourse, power politics, reconciliation, riots and pogroms, Royal College, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, TNA, transport and communications, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, vengeance, world events & processes

Professor KM de Silva’s Publications

Born in 1931 — on 31st December no less — Kingsley Muthumuni de Silva, is still batting … with a pen. This compilation has been assembled by Iranga de Silva of ICES Kandy…. and is arranged in reverse chronological sequence.

Continue reading

2 Comments

Filed under British colonialism, British imperialism, Buddhism, caste issues, communal relations, constitutional amendments, devolution, education, electoral structures, ethnicity, governance, historical interpretation, insurrections, island economy, land policies, Left politics, life stories, LTTE, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, power politics, Rajiv Gandhi, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, Tamil civilians, truth as casualty of war, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes

A Comparative Examination of Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim Demographic rends in Sri Lanka

 Chandre Dhamawardana … with highlighting emphasis added by the Editor, Thuppahi

It is a common belief that the Moor population, nearly 99% Muslim in faith, have high demographic rates and also have to capacity to have high birth rates because of Islamic laws that provide for the possibility of having several wives. Hence it is of interest to examine these contentions in the context of demographic data available from the Dept. of Census and statistics, Sri Lanka.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under centre-periphery relations, communal relations, economic processes, governance, growth pole, historical interpretation, Islamic fundamentalism, island economy, life stories, modernity & modernization, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, self-reflexivity, Sinhala-Tamil Relations, sri lankan society, the imaginary and the real, transport and communications, truth as casualty of war, Uncategorized, unusual people, working class conditions, world events & processes

Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith on 21/4: in June 2019 and 21/4/2020

Michael Roberts: On the anniversary of the 21/4 devastation last Tuesday Cardinal Malcolm presented an incisive commentary on the 21/4 jihadist attacks in Easter 2019 in lucid Sinhala. The speech  was as lucid and informative as statesmanlike. It was not a tale of fire and brimstone. Rather it was tinged with profound sadness and directed towards inter-religious cohabitation. But it also pinpointed horrible failures on the part of key personnel in the government of the day on the foundations of his personal chat with the Indian High Commissioner.

Readers are encouraged to seek out and dwell on You Tube versions of this talk. I present a BBC interview involving Cardinal Ranjith in June 2019 and some News Items as preliminary background. This BBC Chat is also a “Must Listen and Must Absorb “moment in the island’s history.

Continue reading

Leave a comment

Filed under accountability, atrocities, charitable outreach, communal relations, conspiracies, governance, heritage, historical interpretation, human rights, Indian Ocean politics, Islamic fundamentalism, life stories, meditations, Middle Eastern Politics, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, religiosity, security, self-reflexivity, sri lankan society, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, tolerance, trauma, unusual people, welfare & philanthophy, world events & processes