By Izeth Hussain –
I must state at the very outset that in my title Are Foreigners backing anti-Muslim racism in Sri Lanka? I am posing a question, not stating a conclusion. I believe that in political analysis it is important to pose questions even when no definitive answer is available. The reason is that some questions could amount to fertile hypotheses that lead to answers later. In some situations it could be crucially important to pose questions even when no more than conjecture of a rather wild order is possible. This applies to foreign involvement in our internal affairs as it can sometimes have very horrible consequences. That was shown in the case of the Tamil ethnic problem. We must try to ensure that there is no repeat performance in the case of the Muslim ethnic problem. We must therefore pose the question whether foreigners are backing anti-Muslim racism in Sri Lanka even though no more than conjectural answers may be possible at the moment.
I will now indicate very briefly how foreign involvement in our Tamil ethnic problem has had very horrible consequences. India insisted that our troops refrain from going into Jaffna after the successful Vadamarachchi operation, and President Jayewardene caved in to that demand when he could have resisted it without much difficulty – as I have shown in recent articles. The result was the extension of the war by twenty two years at the cost of a hundred thousand deaths. Norway and other countries initiated a peace process with the best of intentions. But they did not understand that the LTTE would be content with nothing less than Eelam or a confederal arrangement close to it. They did not understand that the LTTE was never serious about a negotiated political solution. And they believed that the war was unwinnable. Consequently they contributed mightily to our ethnic disaster.
The evolution of our Muslim ethnic problem provides a very vivid illustration of the destructive potential that there is in foreign involvement. There were anti-Muslim ructions from 1975 to around 2002; then there was the Grease Yakas episode in which Muslim women were targeted for harassment; and also there was the problem of Muslim businessmen being kidnapped for ransom. But all that did not amount to a major Muslim ethnic problem causing international concern. That transformation occurred after the BBS started its anti-Muslim hate campaign. It clearly had the backing of Norwegian Islamophobes, but who else was involved? According to the former President MR it was all part of an international conspiracy to topple him. After the next Government is installed there should be a thorough enquiry into the question of foreign backing for the BBS.
A Muslim friend of mine tells me that he followed closely the BBS’s anti-Muslim campaign and found that their speeches to the masses were heavily influenced by Western Islamophobia. He is convinced that the heaviest input into those speeches was made by Israel. This brings me to the question whether the Israelis have participated in promoting anti-Muslim racism in Sri Lanka, and more specifically whether I have been targeted by the Israelis. I wield the pen and such persons can be troublesome, even dangerous, which is why practically all governments try to control the press or influence it. And of course as a Muslim I can be expected to be unsympathetic to Israel. In addition there is a particular reason why I could have drawn the unwelcome attentions of the Israelis. It is believed that President Premadasa decided to close down the Israelis Interests Section in consequence of a speech made by me.
Among the Tamil lunatic fringe racists who have been attacking me there is one who seems to be the agent of a foreign power. I must provide the context in which my suspicion makes sense. The concerted attacks against me – concerted almost certainly by the LTTE – died out altogether after having flourished vigorously for several months, as I pointed out in my last article. As far as I can remember there is only one participant in those concerted attacks who still continues to attack me. Each week he is joined by a couple of newcomers. A noteworthy fact is that the hysterical hatred and the mad dog rage – which in the early days of the concerted attacks led me to write of “a total annihilating hatred” – has largely diminished. The hatred and rage are still there, but they are given vent to in sneering and jeering. I believe that the reason for this welcome transformation is that my counter-attacks have made the Tamil racists look ridiculous. The lesson to be drawn is that the antidote to racism is to counter attack it, not to ignore it, in which case it flourishes. Anyway the important point is this: the attempt to stop me being published by the Island and the Colombo Telegraph, which was the motivation behind the attacks, has failed completely.
The motivations for the continuing attacks have to be sought elsewhere. It is partly that impotent rage is finding expression through sneering and jeering. But in the case of the sole survivor from the days of the concerted attacks I think the motivation is to promote hatred of Muslims, the expression of an Islamophobic drive. K’s performance – let’s call him K – is in a class apart from the others in important respects. Though his hatred and rage are obvious, as in the case of the others, he surprisingly concedes that I am well read and readable. My guess is that his foreign mentor has told him that if he is merely abusive he will lack credibility, and that he should concede some merit to me so that his attacks will then seem unprejudiced. My guess is also that his foreign mentor has instructed him to adopt Goebbels’s strategy of the big lie: if a lie, any lie, is repeated often it will come to be believed by the public. I have seen more than one reference to Goebbels’s idiotic notion in Tamil contributions to the Colombo Telegraph.
K’s responses are in a class apart for being chockfull of blatant lies, distortions, quotations out of context etc, showing that his Goebellsian strategy is forging ahead full blast. I provided details to the reader on how to access the text in which I wrote against the use of starvation against the LTTE, but he prefers to believe that I advocated the opposite. I quoted Maugham as saying that under the Nazi occupation the French would have to “eat shit”. K has insisted, despite my making the necessary clarification, that I thereby referred to the Tamils as “shit”. In my last article I referred to the stereotype according to which the Muslims are, among other things, excellent “drug traffickers”. He attributes that view to me, not to the stereotype, and proceeds to berate me over that in a lengthy paragraph. Is K clinically mad? I believe that the explanation for what looks like lunacy is that he is following the Goebellsian strategy of the big lie. Anyway what interests me is whether he is acting as the agent of a foreign power.
I can think of only one country in the world that could have a very special interest in the promotion of Islamophobic hatred: Israel. It has to be expected that many Israelis will have a visceral hatred of Muslims, warmly reciprocated by Muslims since human beings are human beings are human beings. We must bear in mind that Israel is presently going through a phase in which it is widely regarded as an apartheid state – Archbishop Desmond Tutu believes that its apartheid is even worse than that of the former South Africa. We must also bear in mind that Israel’s present leader seems to be clinically mad at least to some extent, as indicated by his former psychiatrist who committed suicide in 2010, and he seems to be in a state of genocidal rage against Iran. Netanyahu is indeed the very epitome of the kind of leader that Theodor Herzl would have wanted for Israel, since Herzl saw Israel as the last bastion of European civilisation against the advancing Asiatic hordes. Finally we must bear in mind that many of our Tamils have had a deep admiration for Israel, and that the LTTE which wants to be taken as a liberation movement has never spoken up for Palestinian liberation even once. It seems to be a very reasonable surmise that the Israelis could use the lunatic fringe Tamil racists to foment hatred against the Muslims. The Government must look into that possibility, bearing in mind the terrible harm that has been caused to Sri Lanka by interfering foreign busybodies.