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Hate Mongering is Bleeding the Economy

We should not be mere bystanders anymore. Our motherland needs our participation to heal the injuries caused to her

by Mass L. Usuf

This country today is at crossroads. It is now in the phasing out stage from the state of shock, panic and fear. Much of all these of course is baseless. Nevertheless, cunningly manipulated by certain media whose intent has now become clear to the public. The initial shock is natural but we have experienced worst shocks. How then is it different this time? In the past, the feeling of insecurity at the threshold of a disaster was indeed present. That, anyhow did not persist consistently. On the contrary, the fear gradually diminishes. Not so is this one, 21/4 and its aftermath. It is persisting and it is metastasising.

The way most of our citizens behave is inexplicable. They have become irrational. They are acting like zombies. They too seem to be brainwashed. They have developed in them what in psychology is called, ‘herd mentality’. It seems that they have taken leave of their common senses. They have thrown away all what was naturally in them or religiously inculcated in them – the goodness of humanity, love, kindness, concern, consideration, tolerance and accommodation. They have left behind them the power of deciding what is right and what is wrong, what is reasonable and what is unreasonable, what is fair and what is unfair, what is just and what is unjust.

Rejecting Collective Responsibility

It is crystal clear that everyone including this columnist condemn the Easter Sunday attack. It was barbaric. It was brutal. It was inhuman. The law should be sternly applied on the perpetrators, their partners, their supporters, their financiers etc. There is no disagreement amongst us, as Sri Lankans, on this issue. As, I have always expressed, this was an attack on our beloved national flag. It is this flag that we all respect, honour and hold sacred both in our hearts and is the cynosure of our eyes. It is under this flag and the words of the national anthem, ‘EkaMawakageDarukelaBewina’ (Being the Children of One Mother) that we all line up as Sinhalese, Tamils, Muslims, Malays, Burghers and other citizens.

If this act of violence was against our honoured national flag, why should I, as a Muslim, singularly, take blame for this? Why should the Muslim community as a whole, take collective responsibility for this? I vehemently reject such an apologetic admission. I am upset and hurt as much as you are. If you had nothing to do with it please be assured that we, too, had nothing to do with it.

Jaundiced hypothesis

The jaundiced hypothesis that all Muslims are not terrorists but all terrorists are Muslims is proffered to foist guilt on the Muslim community. This supposition is outrageously discriminatory and tainted with manifest prejudice. Traversing beyond our shores one finds the ridiculity in this sophistry. The
Hindutva terrorists in India, the ETA also known as Basque terrorists in Spain, the Irish terrorists, the Ku kuklux clan and several other white supremacists who were terrorists were not Muslims. How come, then, all terrorists are said to be Muslims? How about our home grown terror outfits like the LTTE and the JVP? Were they Muslims?

To shift blame on the Muslims purely because the actors were identified as Muslims defies reasoning. The preconceived partiality blocks the intellect of such persons from thinking in terms of us all being Sri Lankans. Those who point a finger at the entire Muslim community fail to understand and, I reiterate, that this was an aggression on our country and an assault on our beloved national flag. It is naïve to say this but, unfortunately, need to be said. The word, ‘Our’ includes the Muslims too. This is not the land of one race only but the land of every person born on this soil. Any attack on this soil is an attack on all of us.

Muslims Must Reject

Philosopher Edmund Burke said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing”. Since Muslims had nothing to do with 21/4, we have to reject the notion of collective blame for the acts of a few. The Muslim community had disowned them. Even not permitting their dead bodies to be buried in the Muslim burial grounds. Meanwhile, the Muslim community has also demonstrated maturity and patience on the face of continuing injustice, hate speech, harassment and violence by certain sections of the people. No one can deny that. The Muslims never retaliated. This does not mean that they should live in this country with a defeatist attitude. Muslims are not second-class citizens.

As is publicly seen, politicians will always play to the gallery especially, when it comes to racism. Most of them also want to appease the religious leaders. Some of these opportunistic religious leaders enjoy the publicity, fame and everything else that come along with it. The public clearly acknowledges that the welfare of the country in the minds of many politicians is least in their list of priorities. Are we going to allow these vested interests in the guise of politicians, monks and extremists to plunge this country into a retractable ravine? What is the future we are going to leave behind to our children?

Economic downturn

Our country is experiencing a severe economic downturn. The tourism industry, one of the main sectors that drives our economy is in the doldrums. For example, the steep drop in the number of tourist arrivals is alarming. It has had a severe ripple effect on the entire economy. The Tourism Development Authority is yet to release data of tourist arrivals during May 2019. Some reports indicate that in May 2018, 150,495 individuals had arrived on the island on tourist visas, while in May 2019, this figure had dropped to 55,771, recording a decline of approximately 63%.

Beginning from the taxi driver who chaperons the tourists at the airport up to that humble person deep in a rural village who strings bead necklaces to sell to the tourist is feeling the impact. It is estimated that there are more than 200,000 people employed in the tourism industry. Imagine the difficulties they must be undergoing. Simply stated they are left with either little or no source of income. Also, take into account the large numbers involved indirectly with the tourist industry.

Forget Differences

The sluggish tourism segment has also greatly contributed to the contraction of the economy. The drop in real personal income, industrial production, and retail sales are the wider effects. It can increase unemployment rates if this continues as companies will be reluctant to hire to save money in the face of lower demand.

We should not be mere bystanders anymore. Our motherland needs our participation to heal the injuries caused to her. It is our duty as equal citizens of this country, to join hands with all our other brothers and sisters, irrespective of caste, creed, race, religion and face the growing threat to democracy, democratic values and the Rule of Law. Keep our differences and discords for another day. Let us work together today. We cannot allow our motherland to continue to bleed.


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