Demonisation and criminalisation of religions

Tuesday, 4 June 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Without a functioning justice system, both the Government and civil society are defenceless against rampant crime and corruption and development is likely to stagnate – strengthening the rule of law, however, makes no sense if political will is lacking – Pic by Shehan Gunasekara


“If a person foolishly does me wrong, I will return to him the protection of my boundless love. The more evil that comes from him the more good will go from me. I will always give off only the fragrance of goodness.” (Lord Buddha)


Like the air pervading the whole planet, nationalism is both omnipresent and impalpable. It interpenetrates the psyche and the minds of every individual. This behaviour can be seen as both conservative and as a revolutionary force, threating the status quo. 

Over the past years, rising nationalism is seen everywhere and in everything, from the time of election of Mahinda Rajapaksa to the establishment of Maithripala Sirisena as president of this country.

The end of nationalism has been predicted multiple times by historians and scholars. However, neither is there an inevitable tide of nationalism that is engulfing the world, nor is nationalism universally in decline. Despite shared dynamics and integration, Sri Lanka remains too diverse to be caught up in a single torrent of nationalism, because of the tolerance of Buddhism and true Buddhists in this country.

Buddhism is humanistic, in that it rejoices in the possibility of a true freedom as something inherent in human nature. For Buddhism, the ultimate freedom is to achieve full release from the root causes of all suffering: greed, hatred and delusion, which clearly are also the root causes of all social evils.

It is the belief of great minds among the Buddhists is, that they believe that world peace can only be achieved if we first establish peace within our minds. Buddhists believe people can live in peace and harmony only if we as Buddhists abandon negative emotions such as anger in our minds and cultivate positive emotions such as love and compassion.

The Buddha does not link violence with mimeticism – hysterical neurosis. 

He does warn against thinking of human relationships in terms of rivalries to be won or injuries to be avenged, and he urges his followers not to imitate the example of those who wrong them. 

But the President and his people, who seem to be proclaiming that they are the defenders of Buddhism, seem to be doing everything to the contrary; in that they are conspicuously, offensively and blatantly involved in anything and everything that is evil and quite perverse and quite adverse to Buddhist teachings – they are no better than those who promulgate extremism and terrorism under the guise of the religion of Islam.  

It is no wonder we can see an unholy alliance between the two evils. Both parties seem to be recklessly determined on demonisation and criminalisation of both religions.

This attitude clearly shows a defiant disregard for danger or consequences to the people of this country where their main aim is to grab power by hook or by crook. Malicious behaviour without any attempt at concealment by the leaders and their supporters – openly and blatantly violating every law and every form of human decency.


Let us take a look at the current scenario: We have here two parties – the Sri Lanka Podujana Peramuna (SLPP – Pohottuwa) and the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP). One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party, respectively. And the President seems to be very proud to be a member of the stupid party. Frequently, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. And that is called bipartisanship.

Political corruption is an essential characteristic of organised crime. The two go hand-in-hand, organised crime tries to buy political influence and to provide space for or eliminate blockages to their illegal practices. This relates to bribery of police, judges, politicians and whatnots and infiltration of these offices of government by organised crime, commonly referred to as State Capture. 

State Capture is defined as the efforts of a small number of firms or such groups as the military, ethnic groups and kleptocratic politicians, to shape the rules of the game to their advantage through illicit, non-transparent provision of private gains to public officials.

Rule of law

Attempts to remove and actually removing honest professionals to appoint dishonourable and incompetent people at the highest echelons of our political and justice systems have severely undermined the rule of law in Sri Lanka. 

The World Justice Project defines ‘rule of law’ as ‘the process by which the laws, in a democracy, are enacted, administered, and enforced is accessible, fair, and efficient’. This means that the level of a country’s democracy is determined by its adherence to the basic principles in which all people – regardless of their economic, political or ethnic status – are subject to equal legal rules.

This principle is critically important for the success of any country. It provides a clear national system that is to be applied fairly to every group and person. Without this, the system will increasingly lose credibility and public trust. 

Criminality and instability will increase, putting everyone at risk. Our justice system is the cornerstone for ensuring the rule of law functions in an effective and healthy way.

Over the past few years, the conduct of various top prominent officials in our country, has severely and gravely undermined this constitutional principle and the very foundation of our democracy. Following careful consideration of the hard evidence placed before various courts, a number of judges and luminaries in the judiciary have independently questioned the integrity and conduct and behaviour of some of our most senior so-called ‘responsible’ officials.

Our people actually rely on the individuals who occupy these eminent and distinguished positions, to exercise their considerable powers in tackling organised crime and corruption. However, quite the contrary, it has emerged through various court cases and legal processes they seemed to use their powers to protect various individuals facing serious criminal allegations. 

Our investigation and analysis seem to point to a hidden network of profoundly dishonest individuals within the Government and the justice system, who have either been appointed by top-level politicians, or are acting with the primary purpose of protecting certain powerful people from criminal sanction, rather than in the public interest.

Current status 

Today we see and are experiencing corruption and organised crime, drugs, fraud, money-laundering and racketeering, by all accounts, have increased substantially since the incumbent President came to power.

A malfunctioning law enforcement provides a suitable breeding ground for organised crime. Where criminals of brands and types are firmly rooted; Police and the justice system become weakened by bribery and intimidation.

We should perceive the prevalence of organised crime and political corruption as an important indicator of the presence or absence of the rule – where no rule of law exists, poverty eradication is purposeless, superfluous and meaningless.

Without a functioning justice system, both the Government and civil society are defenceless against rampant crime and corruption and development is likely to stagnate – strengthening the rule of law, however, makes no sense if political will is lacking.

Great spiritual leaders and philosophers have said that wisdom takes us above the basic instincts. It doesn’t let us be reduced to mere puppets in the hands powerful manipulators for our instant gratification. Wisdom gives our mind the power to differentiate between justified and unjustified and act accordingly.

Experiencing the bright and dark, both faces of life, are we filled with love, kindness, compassion, and non-judgment toward others and also ourselves.

Winding up with these words of wisdom from a person no less than Chief Seattle: “You must teach your children that the ground beneath their feet is the ashes of our grandfathers. So that they will respect the land, tell your children that the earth is rich with the lives of our kin. 

Teach your children what we have taught our children – that the earth is our mother. Whatever befalls the earth, befalls the sons of the earth. If men spit upon the ground, they spit upon themselves. This we know. 

“The earth does not belong to man; man belongs to the earth. This we know. All things are connected like the blood which unites one family. 

All things are connected. Whatever befalls the earth befalls the sons of the earth. Man did not weave the web of life; he is merely a strand in it. Whatever he does to the web, he does to himself...” (Chief Seattle – c.1786 – 7 June 1866, was a Suquamish and Duwamish chief – Blake Island, Washington.)