By The Island/ANN
The influence of Muslim politicians on the community’s decision making process will be minimal as was the case in the run-up to the January 2015 presidential elections, former Member of Parliament M M Zuhair has stated. His statement is as follows:
The failure of Muslim politicians to honestly address community concerns when in power and the gross neglect of Muslim political parties to meet at least the key presidential candidates to address the security concerns of the country and the community have led to a loss of trust of most of them, within the community.
The community is still in deep fear of the 21/04 terrorist attacks by an insignificant number in the community, being exploited to stigmatise the wider community including innocent Muslims, the community’s civil activists and even its politicians. They fear that any form of harassment of the innocent will lead to increased radicalization among Muslims and counter radicalization amongst the rest. This will result in sharpening divisions and not help uniting communities. Over 1,800 Muslims have been arrested since 21/04 with several released and some enlarged on bail while the rest are in detention for many months. The community is looking forward to a genuine national leader who will eliminate the terrorist problem without cornering a weak segment of the country’s population, nearly 100% of whom are anti-terrorist. The 1.4 million Muslim voters are looking for a leader who will pledge to eradicate extremism amongst all the communities.
The elimination of terrorism cannot be achieved by Sri Lanka openly facilitating persons from countries with vested interests, led by those who treat the dark-skinned and the Muslims around the world as their enemies. External interferences will multiply the country’s problems. Manifestos which declare Sri Lanka as a non-aligned nation and the Indian Ocean as a "Zone of Peace" will therefore score heavily at the forthcoming elections.
Incidents of terrorism, similar to the 21/04 attacks, can never be eradicated by adding to the arsenal of ultra-nationalists, such arms industry inspired Islamophobic weapons as ‘fundamentalism’, ‘wahabism’, ‘salafism’ or ‘arabisation’. Rehabilitation programmes can help to eliminate violent extremism more effectively. The support of the Muslims, not ostracizing the community, is the key to the successful elimination of this problem. We have lessons to be learnt from the total failure of Western countries and their so called ‘experts’ to eradicate terrorism anywhere in the world since 9/11. Sri Lanka can handle successfully the eradication of all forms of terrorism if it liberates itself from foreign interferences in this arena.
Election manifestos and campaign speeches which reflect the forging of national unity and economic self-sufficiency without exploiting ethno-religious sentiments will also be assessed in deciding on whom to vote, he has said.