Growing Islamophobia

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THE unfortunate phenomena of ‘Islamophobia’ was previously confined mostly to the Western world but it is because of the inaction and a uniform response and strategy of the Islamic Ummah that it is now spreading to other parts of the globe as well with the same intensity.

This is evident from the announcement made by Sri Lankan government to ban the wearing of the burqa and close more than 1,000 Islamic schools, the latest actions affecting the country’s minority Muslim population.

Sri Lanka is a multi-ethnic, multi-racial country, with a heterogeneous population having a culture of non-violence, respect, peace, love, understanding and affection among all communities that inhabited the country for centuries.

However, divisive policies and outside interference have made ethnic and religious communities distrustful towards each other.

The country also saw thirty years of war when a group of people fought the elected government due to political, economic and social issues but Muslims all along have lived peacefully in Lanka and contributed wholeheartedly to the cherished objective of nation building.

In this backdrop, anti-Muslim policies being pursued by the incumbent government of Sri Lanka amount to pushing the community to the wall.

The remarks of Public Security Minister Sarath Weerasekara that the burqa was “a sign of religious extremism that came about recently and that it was “affecting national security” are simply outrageous given Muslims have been living there for centuries and their separate religious identity and symbols did not harm members of any other community or the country.

As for seminaries, the Government can definitely regulate their working to guard against any illegal activity but there is absolutely no justification to close them down and deprive Muslims of the opportunity to impart religious education to their children as teaching of Islam is not included in the Government syllabus.

This amounts to denial of a fundamental right to the Muslim population and more so when the Minister believes most of the unregistered schools “teach only the Arabic language and the Quran, so that is bad”.

The latest move makes it abundantly clear that the decision of Sri Lankan Government to make cremation of the Covid-19 victims mandatory (which was reversed after criticism by the UN, the US, Pakistan and other countries) was a deliberate anti-Muslim move.

All Muslim countries need to harmonize their policies and approach to safeguard rights of followers of Islam in all parts of the world and OIC should take a lead in this regard.

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