Open letter to my fellow Sri Lankan Muslims

Tuesday, 19 November 2019 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • President Election 2019: Ethnocracy vs. democracy

Dear friends, I extend my personal congratulations to Gotabaya Rajapaksa who has just been elected as the seventh Executive President of Sri Lanka. May I also take this opportunity of conveying the following for your reflection.

The elections held on 16 November prove that we need to seriously work on agreeing on a definition as to what constitutes a Sri Lankan identity in a pluralistic, multi ethnic, multi lingual and multi-cultural society.

This was not a problem 70 years ago when we as a collective of Ceylonese agitated and gained our independence in a peaceful manner from the British. We are proud of this collective Ceylonese effort. But today can we as one Sri Lankan people be proud of our achievements (or lack of it)?

At the moment we are and in danger of permanently becoming an ethnocracy (voting on ethnic and religious lines) as opposed to a democracy (voting based on common national Sri Lankan interest). The voting patterns at our just-concluded elections emphasise the urgency of finding an answer to the question, “What indeed constitutes a true Sri Lankan national identity?”

Can I call on all of you regardless of political ideology to get together and use what is left of our Sri Lankan Muslim identity to work on reversing the trend of ethnicisation by working politically with national political parties as opposed to Muslim/Islam-based regional political parties?

Our very identity as a pluralistic, multi ethnic, multi-cultural and multi religious tolerant society which practices democracy is at stake.

Ruvaiz Haniffa