Feature Article
2ND LEAD (Adds updated version of essay)

Colombo's COIN backfires, solidarity key to ensure Tamil-Muslim territoriality: Diasporic academic

[TamilNet, Thursday, 25 April 2019, 16:30 GMT]
The growth of Wahhabism in the island has only served Colombo, and its external backers' interests in weakening the possibilities of unified Tamil speaking peoples' resistance to the unitary state, argues Norway-based Eezham Tamil anthropology academic Athithan Jayapalan in an article following the serial Easter Sunday bomb attacks in the island. The Wahhabis were contributing to the severing of the ties held by Tamil Muslims to their territory, and in the case of north and east, to their Tamil neighbours by targeting, destroying or marginalising traditional Tamil Muslim Sufism in the island in the past. “Time has again come for Tamil – Muslim solidarity and alliances to bloom, to arrest divisive measures of the Colombo state and external powers,” to counter the dangers of the future, he writes narrating the trends of the past and his experiences during the field trips to the island.

“A discussion of Tamil –Muslim-Sufi ties and history and other cultural and social connections should be encouraged. The discussion of Tamil and Muslim specific grievances and aspirations pertaining to the East should also be pursued under the banner of common interests of the North and East,” Athithan writes.

The SL State, which was advised through an Israeli interest section established at the US embassy in Colombo in the 1980s, conceived a systematic counter-insurgency (COIN) programme against the armed independence movement of Eezham Tamils, engineering the cycle of violence between Muslims and Tamil villagers and militants in the East.

The so-called Muslim home-guards paramilitary was the creation of this process.

At the same time, the British state and its mercenary trained the Special Task Force (STF), which was also deployed in the East.

The COIN operation involving the home-guards and the STF paved the way for the fundamentalist ‘Jihad’ group triggering further extremism accompanied by the induction of Wahhabism in the East in the past, he argues.

Full text of the article follows:

[Editor's note: Smaller paragraphs are introduced for the sake of online-readability. Readers have to bear with pronunciation inconsistencies, especially with regards to place names as the article doesn't utilise a transliteration or transcription scheme to denote native identities]

Eelam, Wahhabism and Sri Lankan COIN; the case of Tamils and Muslims

Athithan Jayapalan
Athithan Jayapalan
Introduction
In the aftermath of the coordinated bomb attacks which claimed the lives of over two hundred and fifty civilians and tourists and which injured hundreds more, there is a burning need to situate these events in a historical trajectory and to interpret it in a contextualized manner. Speculations have led to further aggregation of tension initially distilled at the convenience of the Colombo government as well the Rajapaksa opposition, between Eelam Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims.

Both Eelam Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims, in particular in the north and east, share historical, economical, linguistic-cultural and territorial ties which have been cultivated over the course of several centuries.

Although these traditional ties have been deteriorated during the course of the national liberation struggle and the Sri Lankan state’s Counter-insurgency (COIN) strategies, renewed possibilities of political alliances have emerged in the aftermath of Mullivaaykal.

This is amongst other ushered by the fact that especially in the Eastern coast of the island, both Muslim and Tamil villagers have been subject to the violence of the structural genocide perpetuated by the state and its institutions.

This is the case as Tamil and Muslim villages along this region are interspersed. Chief manifestations of such a structural oppression, has been the unitary state and its institutions systemic colonization of Muslim and Tamil lands for either ‘development initiatives’, archaeological practices, forest preservation or for the purpose of continuing the tradition of embedding Sinhala colonies with settlers from the southern districts. Such has occurred from Pulmoddai in southern Mullaithivu district, to Eerakamam in the Amparai district.

The state aided colonization under the guise of irrigation development schemes, have been a strategy of oppression pursued since the 1930’s as a means to create a wedge in the territorial and demographical contiguity of Tamil speaking populations in the eastern province (later this was expanded into the northern-province).

Hence, a re-approach between the two communities borne out of both traditional ties and the ongoing state policies, have raised concerns among certain establishments of the unitary state.

Furthermore, the aggregated geo-political tension between the U.S and China, could have created the conditions for previously employed COIN tactic by the unitary state against Tamil revolutionary nationalism, to be re-deployed.

Such COIN tactics as I will detail, has revolved around the cultivation and manipulation of Wahhabis and Islamic fundamentalist groups in the East, amongst other through the Home Guard auxiliary force, to use in the battle against Tamil nationalists and their Muslim allies.

Such state intervention also led to the cycle of violence between Muslim and Tamil villagers and militants in the east over the late 1980’s and 1990’s. However, more than speculations, what I believe is paramount today is to illuminate the historical and political context of the growth of Wahhabism in the island.

Since 2009, there have been numerous attempts by many external and internal institutional interests in framing the political nature of the Tamil national question which has as its core severe contradictions revolving around the workings and configuration of the unitary state of Sri Lanka.

At the international flora, the UNHRC has been a premier platform for such politics of re-framing which has been at the behest of the U.S and its allies. Hence the Tamil national question has been attempted to be –reframed as one of religious conflict. Attempts have been manifested in which religious identity of Tamil speaking populations has been highlighted and contradictions between them emphasised to create impetus for religious tensions and sectarian identifications.

Such attempts aim to set the future course for dynamics of religious animosity.

These attempts are at re-framing and conditioning the interactional dynamics between various groups of Tamil speaking communities who make up the social basis of Eelam Tamil national mobilization.

A religiously divided Tamil speaking population not mobilized under the banner of secular, egalitarian and ‘revolutionary nationalism which threatens the unitary-state, is instability which can be manipulated for various ends.

It also serves the purposes of weakening the very social basis of Tamil revolutionary nationalism, as spearheaded by the Tamil revolutionary armed organisations, in particular the Liberation Tamil Tigers of Eelam (LTTE). The LTTE had unified under their national liberation struggle, Tamil Hindus, Christians and in its earlier days to a lesser extent Muslims.

Muslim participation in the other movements, such as the Eelam Revolutionary Organisation of Students (EROS), People’s liberation Organisation of Tamil Eelam (PLOTE) and Eelam People’s Revolutionary Front (EPRLF) was significant during the emergence of the Tamil national liberation struggle in the 1970’s and 1980’s. It however changed over the course of the late 1980’s and early 1990’s.

Geo-politics of hegemons and the internal dynamics of Sinhala polity
The geo-political rivalry between the U.S led west which since the fall of the USSR have developed a strategic partnership with India, and the China led alliances of powers, has crystalized in the last two decades over the Indian Ocean Region. The mantelpiece of the Indian Ocean, the island of Sri Lanka, is caught in the midst of such a storm. Thus in recent years, such geo-political dynamics has caused political instability within the Sinhala-state centred polity.

In the late months of 2018, a parliamentary and political crisis unfolded in the Sinhala southern polity. Major fissures in the then incumbent regime occurred; a regime which stepped to state power in January 2015 as result of regime change orientation opted for by the west.

The recent conflict caused a split in the regime, and the United National Party (UNP) and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe emerged out stronger and with tighter connection to the U.S line. President Maithirpala Sirisena and the SLFP, which already was split during the 2015 regime change, were further weakened. Moreover, president Sirisena during the 2018/2019 political crisis opted to forge an alternative to Ranil as well the Rajapakse political camp but his calculations misfired.

Out of these conditions, the Rajapakse loyalist and others of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), formed the new political party the Sri Lanka Podujana Party (SLPP), and consolidated a third front which is to contest for the upcoming presidential election.

So now one of the two traditional national Sinhala ruling party, the SLFP have lost political capital and it is the SLPP which now forms the major oppositional camp to the incumbent regime.

The incumbent and disharmonious regime is dominated by Ranil Wickremesinghe and the UNP as well the crumbling faction of the SLFP and the presidency held by Maithiripala Sirisena.

Up till and during the presidential election of January 2015, with U.S and western support, a composite regime of UNP and their coalition allies was made to ally with a rebel faction of the SLFP led by Sirisena against the SLFP and former government held by the Rajapakse brothers led by President Mahinda Rajapakse.

Although the U.S and the west supported the Rajapakse regime up till Mullivaykal and the destruction of the LTTE, Rajapaksas tilt towards China in its aftermath caused the regime to be considered a liability in U.S Geo-political designs vis-à-vis China.

Now the ruling Sinhala coalitions of elites, have three political camps of political representatives, out of which the Ranil-UNP coalition and the SLPP led opposition are the strongest. The external powers are to groom forth their favourable or amicable camp to capture state power.

With China, India and U.S doing their outbidding of each in negotiation with one of these camps to secure a friendly forthcoming regime at the seat of state power in the island, their tensions has also aggregated internal tensions within the Sinhala polity.

Recently, the U.S Indo-Pacific Command (USIPC) ordered one of its ships to visit and anchor at the China-state firm built Hambantota Harbour. This is a harbour and development project which was part of the so called Chinese String of pearls policy to secure commercial and military sites along the maritime silk route. The Chinese engagement in Hambantota had caught the fury of U.S and corporate media criticism since its commission. It was discoursed as being a sign of Chinese ‘take-over’ of Sri Lanka. Such a visit being allowed by the current regime must hence have angered the Chinese.

Hence the rivalry between the incumbent regime and the Rajapakse camp is still at large.

Moreover, within the Rajapakse camp itself there has emerged divisions and tension, out of which Gotabhaya Rajapakse is outbidding Mahinda Rajapakse as a common oppositional candidate. In such an instable turmoil, electoral leverage and political capital can be won through the manipulations of violence and instability. The games and manipulations between rivalling Sinhala elites to secure state power demands blood at its altar of sacrifice. Victims have in the past been Tamils, Muslims and the lower classes of the Sinhala Buddhist and the Sinhala speaking catholic minority.

Tamil sources and as reported in Tamilnet, bring attention to the presence and operations of Indian RAW and Pakistani ISI operatives, especially in the east, who have been making attempts to ground religious fundamentalism among Hindus and Muslims, in attempt to aggregate religious contradictions into tensions between the various Tamil speaking groups.

Hence, a scrutiny of the relation between religious fundamentalism, COIN and state power in Sri Lanka is pertinent.

The tendencies of islamophobia which has been cultivated openly by Sinhala Buddhist nationalist and state officials since the conclusion of the armed conflict with the LTTE which lead to a genocidal massacres at Mullivaaykal, has manifested in several anti-Muslim riots since 2009.

Similarly Christian churches and congregations have been similarly subject to attacks by Sinhala Buddhist mobs led by extremist Sinhala Buddhist nationalist organisations, whether Bodu Bala Sena or Ravana Balaiya.

Tension between Tamil speaking Muslims, and Tamil Saivites and Christians have also been an objective of given Sinhala Buddhist monks who recently have established Buddhist temple institutions with the backing of the armed forces occupying the traditional Tamil homeland. Many such incidents have been reported at Batticaloa, the location of the Zion Church which was targeted in a terrorist bombing on Sunday.

Firstly, the above mentioned events and tendencies necessitate a detailed historical perusal to understand the dynamics of internal rivalry between the various Sinhala coalitions of elites and their respective political representatives vying to capture state power and their given external backers.

Secondly it also reflects the structural workings of the unitary state and its agents, in attempting to manipulate tensions between Eelam Tamils involved in the resistance to the state, and Tamil speaking Muslims, through the cultivation or tolerance of Wahhabism and given organizations. It is this second point which I choose to elucidate in this essay.

Some notes on Tamil Muslims, Eelam and Sri Lankan COIN:
The Eastern province and it’s coastal belt, from Pulmoddai in Mullaithivu district, through Trincomalee to Amparai district, Tamil and Tamil speaking Muslim villages are interspersed. There had been a common territorial and interconnected economic basis of interactions between these communities.

The origins of both Tamil Muslim communities and their interactions with Tamils can be found in the Indian Ocean Trade, as well the emergence of Persian and Arab trading-posts in South India.

However, local folklore attests to various political and martial alliances being formed by native Tamil communities and the seafaring-communities of traders of middle-eastern origin. The Mukkuvar community of the Eastern coasts have had strong interactional ties with Tamil speaking Muslims. Hence the matrilineal kudi sytem as well as other traits common to the Mukkuvar can be found among the Muslims of Batticaloa, Amparai and Puttalam (Jayapalan 1991).

There is also a strong tendency in which Tamil traders who converted to Islam, as the case in South India, settled in the eastern coast of Sri Lanka over the course of centuries.

The origin story of Eeravur, a town which holds Tamil and Tamil Muslims in large numbers, is reflective of such a historical tie.

I was educated by a Muslim elder of Eeravur about the origin story of Eeravur, when asked about the ties of the two communities before the troubles of the 1980’s. It states how members of the Tamils and the Tamil-speaking Muslims from the Batticaloa coast had moved collectively to a site which had appeared in a vision to an elder. The elder had a vision in which a small temple for a Tamil Hindu deity should be erected at the site of lime bushes, and a shrine for the Islamic faith to be built next to it. The site of these visions is where Eravur stands now, and these sites of worship are still to be found.

There had out of such basis emerged several cultural and customary ties between the Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims.

Such ties were mostly enmeshed with the traditional Islamic schools followed by the Tamil speaking Muslims, which is within the Sufi orientations.

Hence the particular Sufism which developed amongst the Tamil Muslims was built upon the existing cultural traits of the region and of Muslims. Hence kodi-eetram, a traditional saivite practice, is shared in a synchronized manner by traditional Muslims of the east, and there have been several Sufi mosques which practices this.

Close to Kaatankudi, there still stands a ‘Kadakarai Kodi’eetra’Palli’, whose annual rituals attract many followers.

The saivaite tradition of anne-thanam, is similarly carried out in many Sufi mosques and shrines, to feed the public in memory of one of their saints or holy-men or deceased relatives.

In Thirukovil in Amparai, till the 1980’s, the traditional thirunaazh at its main Hindu temple, in which the ‘Theer’ (Chariot) is ritually pulled, is according to local traditional customs carried out by a select few number of kudi (lineages). One amongst these select lineages or clans was of Tamil Muslim background. However the practices of Thirukovil have been rare over the course of the last three decades due to the dynamics created by the COIN intervention of the Sri Lankan state.

Although the above mentioned traditional ties and cultural-customary similarities have only been touched upon here, it is done so to provide a background for the political context of the armed conflict by Eelam Tamil revolutionaries against the state and the COIN strategies and interventions of the Sri Lankan state.

During the 1970’s and 1980s, several Muslim youth joined Tamil revolutionary armed formations, notably, the EROS, PLOTE, LTTE and EPRLF.

A considerate amount of these Muslim revolutionaries hailed from the Eastern province as well from Mannar. The demographic proximity of Tamil and Muslim villages and the cultural and linguistic ties coupled with the national oppression levied by the Sinhala Buddhist state affecting both communities induced such alliances.

Soon with the assistance of Israeli intelligence services Shin Beth and MOSSAD, which was organized through an Israeli interest section established at the US embassy in Colombo, and through the then president, J.R Jayewardene’s son Ravi Jayewardene, colonization and COIN tactics directed at the Eastern Province in particular was enhanced.

One result of these COIN and geo-political dynamics, was the state intervention in the Eastern Province in manipulating small-scale contradictions concerning small disputes and land-disagreements between Muslims and Tamils. Such state intervention was setting the stage for the inter-communal violence which rocked the Eastern province in the 1980’s and 1990’s with many hundreds murdered on both Muslim and Tamil sides (UTHRJ 1991).

Furthermore, the foreign intelligence input in the early 1980’s resulted in the creation of the auxiliary force known as the Home Guards to assist the state forces.

British state and mercenary trained paramilitary commandos, the Special Task Force (STF) were also established in this period. Both STF and Home guards were created and deployed in the COIN against Tamil insurgency.

Through the Israeli connect, an intelligence unit of the Sri Lankan Police, known colloquially as ‘Kalu Kotiya’ (Black Tiger) was engaging in providing weapons to incumbent and former Muslim members of the home guards and STF. Out of such facilitations emerged the fundamentalist Muslim armed groups known as the Jihad. Members of the Jihad were Muslims which had been trained and armed by the SL state through the Home guard initiative as COIN measure to the Tamil Eelam armed struggle.

Tamil Muslims from villages in the east was deliberately recruited into these formations, the Home-guards and the Jihad. Such armed Muslims were deployed in a visible and frequent manner often alongside Sri Lankan security personnel in indiscriminate attack against Tamil villages (UTHRJ 1991). The Jihad also frequently attacked Muslims who sympathized or worked with the Tamil Eelam insurgency or the popular resistance to the state.

Such deployment resulted in Tamil villagers and militants targeting Muslim Home guards and militants working with the state. It soon erupted into a cycle of inter-communal violence.

One of the major events which were triggered by such state intervention was the 1985 anti-Tamil pogroms in Amparai. There had prior to this been some few local tensions between Tamil and Muslim civilians in the region but they had been settled after initial small-scale incidents of violence.

On the 13th of April 1985 in Karaithivu in Amparai district, members of the Tamil militant PLOTE had stolen the car of a Muslim businessman and robbed bags of rice from Muslims. Following this incident, the STF mobilized Muslims from Kalmunai and Malligaikadu in an anti-Tamil pogrom alongside the security forces. Subsequently over 5000 Tamils houses in Karaithivu were burnt, and many Hindu temples desecrated and over 40 Tamils murdered (UTHRJ 1991).

On the 15h of April 1985, the SL police manipulated and instigated Muslims in Kaatankudy to attack Tamils of Manjanthoduwa village and burn their hamlets whilst the police providing security to the rioters. The next day Tamils of the area set fire to Muslims houses of Manjanthoduwa. In the following days Tamil civilians returning to the burned village were hacked to death by armed Muslim fundamentalists, whilst innocent Muslims on their way to Kaatankudy from Batticaloa were killed by Tamil mobs.

During the period of the IPKF – LTTE war, in December 1987, Tamil and Muslim members of the LTTE from Kaatankudy and its surroundings, as part of their organisations collections of revolutionary tax from businessmen, were on a drive to collect large monetary sums from Muslim businesses of Kaatankudy. The following day, the Jihad which operated in collusion with SL police and STF and the Home-Guards, shot dead two Muslim supporters of the LTTE in Kaatankudy. The LTTE retaliated by abducting a dozen members of the Jihad and demanded the remainder to disarm. Responding to this, the Jihad shot dead 6 Tamil labourers in Katankudy (UTHRJ 1991).

Such incidents proliferated with the state intervention in using Muslims in it’s COIN deployments against Tamil insurgency, and evolved into large-scale inter-communal violence and scarred the east with hundreds of massacred on both sides.

These events culminated in the much publicized coerced exodus of tens of thousands of Muslims from the Jaffna peninsula by the LTTE in 1990. The gains harnessed by the Sri Lankan state and the various coalitions of ruling Sinhala elites, out of these schemes was considerate. Beside getting proxy elements to fight the Tamil insurgency, it succeeded in bringing about destabilization and complication of Tamil – Muslim relations, which had till then evolved to the level of Muslims joining Tamil revolutionary militant formations against the state.

The tendencies which evolved out of the State’s COIN recruitment of Muslims in Home guards, and then in the facilitating of former and incumbent Muslim Home guards as members of the jihad, is arrestment to the Sri Lankan state sponsorship of Muslim fundamentalism and the school of thought known as Wahhabism.

Such formations had been given the free reign to control certain localities in the east during the course of the war, as counter to LTTE influence and operations, as well to neutralize any relations between traditional Muslims and the Tamils. Despite such, there are many incidents in which Sufi Muslim leaders and community members of Kaatankudi, Eeravur, Kalmunai and Akkaraipattu had known interactions with the LTTE.

There had also been several members of the LTTE who hailed from Eeravur, Akkaraipattu and Katankudi. An elder moulami (Sufi religious leader) from Kaatankudi and his close associates told me regards an incident in Kaattankudi in the mid 2000’s during the Cease Fire Agreement (CFA).

The moulami and a group of followers from his mosque were driving past a LTTE check-point, at that time the government had initiated its eastern offensive (2006). As the situation was tense, the moulami and his group were nervous and were fearful of complications with the LTTE.

As mentioned in the essay, due to the state intervention, a vicious cycle of violence and retaliations had evolved between Tamils and Muslims. As he talked with the LTTE cadre commanding the patrol at the check point, he told me that the following surprised him.

The LTTE commandant a Tamil Saivaite by background recognized the moulami, as he had been raised in a nearby village, and during his childhood he had participated at the annual anne-thanam given at the moulami’s previous mosque.

Due to such an organic basis, and the traditional amicability between Tamil and Muslims of the region, the LTTE commandant greeted the moulami and let him pass the check-point and provided some cadres for security till he reached his point of destiny.

Some few months later, the moulami was targeted in an attack by the STF at his mosque, but escaped with injuries. Local sources from Kaatankudy, have notified that in particular since 2009, many of the older Wahhabis elements have re-surfaced and re-asserted themselves, and have targeted his mosque and associates on number of occasions, including gun and knife attacks.

There had been reported several incidents of the like in and around Kaatankudi in the past decade.

Whilst in Eeravur there have also been several attacks on Sufi Muslims and their sites of worship, such as Kaburus (grave of Sufi-holy men) by Wahhabis elements and organisations.

The response from the police departments of the unitary state has been negligent as pointed out by to me by Tamil Muslim residents and civic representatives of Eeravur, Kaatankudi and Akkaraipattu.

Local sources from these localities have told me that the inaction of the police or state authorities to their complaints of violent attacks from Wahhabis is surprising. In Eeravur and Kaatankudi, several traditional Kaburu’s and other sites of worship and religious heads of Sufi institutions have been targeted in violent attacks by Wahhabis.

The Wahhabis as I was told was castigating the Sufi Muslim rituals and traditions as being idolatry and as bearing Tamil Hindu influences and as blasphemy. One source told that the Wahhabis were spreading social media messages and videos of their attacks and desecrations of Kaburus. One comment was made in these video in which Sufis are decried for blasphemy and for being Saiva-Muslims.

Conclusion
Such discourse discern a popular rationale of the Wahhabis of Sri Lanka as being directed at the historical ties, cultivated by territorial, economic and cultural basis of interactions, between Tamils and Tamil speaking Muslims. This has particular been the case in the east.

On several occasions’ local sources from the three districts of the Eastern province pointed out the tolerance exerted by the state government over such attacks on Tamil Muslim sites of Sufi worships and proponents of Sufism. As complaints were unheard, the growth of such Wahhabis elements is considered as being given a ‘green light’ by Colombo.

Muslim Tamils writers and political representatives interacting with Tamil civic and political elements was also often condemned or threatened by Wahhabis interests. If put into the context of foreign intelligence interventions and the SL state’s COIN deployment in the East from the 1980’s, one understand that the Wahhabis of Sri Lanka, was cultivated externally with the objective of creating fundamentalist grounded anti-Tamil sentiments among Tamil-Muslims.

Hence, the growth of Wahhabism, has only served Colombo and its external backers interests in weakening the possibilities of unified Tamil speaking peoples resistance to the unitary state. It has also produced the effects of Wahhabis targeting, destroying or marginalizing traditional Tamil Muslim Sufism.

Destroying its traditional site of worship, such as kaburus or mosques, and attacking its proponents, many whom embodies precious Tamil Muslim folklore and poems, means that the Wahhabis are contributing to the severing of the ties held by Tamil Muslims to territory, and in the case of north and east, to their Tamil neighbours.

Overall, viewing it from the point of view of the structural oppression at the hands of the unitary state, the workings of Wahhabis, aide the Sinhala chauvinists in denying Muslims historical and territorial ties to the territory in East as well elsewhere in the island.

Eliminating Sufism, renders a Arabnized-salafist or Arab centric Wahhabism becoming dominant within the Muslim community. Such a situation produces an effect similar to the ruling ideology of the unitary state, which espouses Sinhala Buddhist exclusive ownership of the island.

Both Wahhabis as well Colombo denies Tamil speaking Muslims the many century old ties to the islands Tamils and the coastal territories, which produces the effect of denying or silencing historical cultivated ties to territory and land.

This is alarming as Muslim lands alongside those owned by Tamils in the east are appropriated and occupied by the state and an array of its institutions. Similarly, it also lend itself for the state to legitimize its structural genocide targeting the north and east and the Eelam Tamils, as both Tamils and Muslims are being denied any historical and territorial ties to the east.

Such neutralization of historical demographical ties serves to ‘corroborate’ the ruling state ideology which present all non-Sinhala Buddhist as immigrants and usurpers. Ultimately it’s based on neutralizing threats both ideological and material to the unitary state of Sri Lanka, which historically has been the Tamil demand for Self-determination in north and east.

The ideological and material legitimacy and reification of the unitary state is to which the Mahavamsa based world view, evolved out of British state building project caters to.

Hence, the terrorist attack on Eastern Sunday by Wahhabi operatives, can lend itself as a pretext to large-scale re-deployment of COIN and emergency measures by the state to consolidate further its hold over the north and east, this time openly targeting the Tamil speaking Muslims under the guise of fighting Wahhabism which the state itself cultivated.

Tamils are in light of these attacks, prone to manipulations by state authorities and Sinhala Buddhist extremists, to be used in collusion with state and Sinhala chauvinism against the Tamil speaking Muslims.

It is pertinent to remember how once elements in the Muslim society were used by the State’s COIN against Tamils during the war.

Contextualization and careful negotiation is the need of the hour, and for Tamils to not fall into the plays of Colombo. Tamil Muslims civic and political representatives shall also realize the structural ties and context of the Wahhabism and form alliances with Tamils in neutralizing their divisive project.

A discussion of Tamil – Muslim-Sufi ties and history and other cultural and social connections should be encouraged. The discussion of Tamil and Muslim specific grievances and aspirations pertaining to the East, should also be pursued under the banner of common interests of the North and East.

Time has again come for Tamil – Muslim solidarity and alliances to bloom, to arrest divisive measures of the Colombo state and external powers.


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