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Dambulla Mosque controversy: Conflicting versions prevail

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By Raisa Wickrematunge and Niranjala Ariyawansha | reporting from Dambulla

Muslims in Dambulla are still reeling from last week’s events, which could mean the demolition and relocation of a 65 year old mosque.

We were there until the last minute… people were throwing rocks and stones, so we had to leave at around 1:30 pm,” said Hariff M Yasir, a trustee to the mosque, describing the chaotic scene.

‘We left without our slippers, like beggars. We were afraid they would do something to hurt us,’ he said.

Having missed Friday prayers, many of the worshippers had then returned to the mosque- only to find their way barred. Police assured the Muslims that the mosque was intact, but had been sealed.

They were only allowed in the next day, after visits from the Minister of Industry and Commerce, Rishard Bathiudeen and Minister A. H. M. Fowzie. Yasir said that the place had been re-arranged with care by the police, such that it was cleaner than normal. Even the stones that had been pelted onto the roof were removed.

The Qurans in the mosque had been arranged with care, but around half of them were missing, as were several other items, probably damaged by the ransacking.But though this sensitivity was appreciated by the Muslims, it did not appease them. ‘Everyone should have the freedom to practice their religion. This is a tragedy,’ Yasir said emotionally.

But the real question is, why did this happen now?

And how did a demonstration lead to an order to relocate a mosque that is 65 years old?

The answer differs, according to who you ask.

‘This is not an unauthorised construction, there was a deed for this land,’ Yasir claims. The land was gifted to his grandfather by a Tamil, (whose son still survives, although he is sickly, according to Yasir).

His grandfather had then donated it to the Muslim religious committee. ‘It has been registered as a religious site for Muslims,’ he insists. In fact, a Sunday school was regularly held at the mosque as well, he said.

However, he added that the Government had taken over the land in 1982. Trustee Hariff. M. Mohommed claimed that the mosque trustees had deeds going back to the 19th century, before the land was taken over by the state.

He also said that the Muslims had joined together in protest once upon a time, to ask the Government to name Dambulla a sacred site.

Now, in a twist of fate, the Buddhist monks have turned against them. ‘This is unjust,’ Mohommed said, ‘we have been here for generations.’

Yasir too said that Muslims had been settled in the area since the days of his grandfather; arriving in Dambulla during the British colonial period to do business. A place of worship was built, and as the town grew, it became a known fact that there was a mosque in the area.

The Sunday Leader received a copy of the deeds to the mosque, which date back to 1967.

However, the head of the Rangiri Dambulu Chapter Inamaluwe Sumangala Thero has a different story to tell. Speaking to a correspondent from our sister paper Iruresa, he said that the temple had owned 12,000 acres of land from colonial times. However, he claimed that according to a legal Act, land deeds were not given to temples, and so they had no legal documentation to show they owned the land.

In 1982, during former Prime Minister R Premadasa’s era, the temple had agreed to provide 300 acres of their land to the Government, so that they could begin to create a sacred area as part of a project which was eventually gazetted in 1992.

The Survey Department had then examined the 300 acres- but for some reason, they had not marked the location of the mosque, which was found in Blocks 51 and 52. Yet a small Buddhist shrine had been marked on the map.

If such a small shrine was marked, it was strange that the mosque had not been mentioned at all, the Sumangala Thero said.

He contended that the mosque had in fact been built after 1982, a fact hotly contested by the Muslim trustees, and even, surprisingly, by Buddhists in the area. A resident who requested anonymity said that the mosque had been there even in 1948, before Independence.

‘Back then, it was small, only three families worshipped there,’ the resident said. After the gradual development of Dambulla, more Muslims began to settle, until there were about 500-600 Muslims regularly attending the mosque.

As to the Survey Department map, the Muslim trustees said that as they had only registered the mosque with the Muslim religious affairs committee, it was possible the Survey Department had not known of the mosque’s existence, as it was a small outfit at the time.

In the meantime, the Sumangala Thero says that the mosque falls within a 1 kilometre sacred area earmarked for the temple. It is for this reason that it must be relocated, he insisted. Further, he said the mosque would have to be moved beyond the 12,000 acre stretch owned by the temple, a distance of several miles.

The chief monk also complained that every Friday, 300 to 400 vehicles belonging to the Muslims blocked the road and caused a disturbance. He even alleged that the mosque had been built secretly, at night, and was therefore probably not a legal building.

There is a small shrine to Kali nearby which is also to be razed, much to the distress of the residents. The people in this area are the poorest of the poor, and consist of both Sinhalese and Tamils, who have peacefully coexisted for generations. Many of them are labourers at the Dambulla market.

Sinhalese, Tamils, Buddhists and Christians alike visit the statue of Kali, which is located in a simple cement block building with no roof. Minister of Lands and Land Development Janaka Bandara Tennekone has supported this structure, residents in the area told our Iruresa correspondent.

Yet last Friday the monk had given the order that this statue was to be broken too. The distressed residents refused to destroy an object of worship, but in deference to the Chief monk said that he could destroy it if he wanted.

66 year old Rasa Anna said ‘We have no choice. But if we can continue to worship this statue, it would be enough. The residents said they were deeply hurt by the monk’s actions. Several of the Dambulla residents also spoke of how dominant the monk was in the area and of his lack of respect to Muslims.

The Muslims of the area were also resentful of the fact that none of the trustees to the mosque were invited to the meeting on Monday (23) to decide what was to become of it.

Chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, N. M. Ameen said that it had been decided to take 6 months before coming to a final decision on whether to relocate the mosque. In the meantime, at a meeting on April (25), Muslim MPs had expressed their confidence that the President would find a solution to the issue. Ameen said relocating the mosque would mean a commute of at least 15 kilometres for people in the area.

It is clear that tensions are high, and the Muslims feel slighted. A police guard remained stationed outside the mosque, a mosque-goer said, even several days after the incident.

‘We have never felt like a minority. But now we do,’ one resident said. All eyes are now on the authorities, to see what steps will be taken to alleviate the situation. The President has called for an amicable solution to be reached, but has remained silent on what, exactly, that solution should be. And so, the waiting continues. courtesy: The Sunday Leader

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46 Comments

  1. As stated above, half the Qurans were missing. What happened to them is the big question. Can the Police explain?

  2. The Muslim leaders in Sri Lanka should appeal to influential Muslim countries to condemn the decision by the Sri Lankan Prime Minister DM Jayaratne instructed the Muslims to relocate the mosque.

    Almost all the Muslim member countries of the UN Human Rights Council stood with the Sri Lankan state when the voting took place in Geneva on the resolution tabled by the USA.

    Bangladesh, Maldives, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, Uganda, Kuwait, Qatar voted against the US-proposed LLRC-based resolution, while Malaysia, Senegal, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan, Burkina Faso and Djibouti abstained, an act which was also interpreted as indirectly backing the Colombo regime.

  3. The aspect of sacred area was harshly exerted on the minority in 1982 immediately after the Ex.President JR visit to Deegawapiya, where the LDO permits of Muslims who were cultivating in Ponnanveli for centuries, were ignored and the entire area was declared Buddist Sacred Palace, consisting 12000 acres land in the area. Intrestingly, if a thousands of legally distributed lands were taken back from the Muslims in the name of sacred area, then it should have been kept so. But, Sinically, those lands were re-distributed only amongst the Sinhalese, Only because they were considered Buddist. Overthe night, LDO permits were prepared to the Sinhalese people who came to work in the Hinguran Sugar, and settled in the state land as enchrochers.
    Still the problem continues in the way of expelling the muslim farmers depriving thier lands which they have legally been cultivating for several years. The Designers of this program are very smart. they can use any form of guise to evict the muslims from the area and occupy their lands, first they used the archelological department, then Forest department which has no any relavance in the case, then wild life department. Lastly they established a brigade with armed men in the same field.
    Problem is as mentioned by Mr. Jawid Yusuf, the question who declares the so called sacred area with whose consultations ??.
    It is pity that the Rangiri Monk mentioned that the mosques was not mentioned in the survey paln. They are may be two reasons for it, one is it might have puposely been acoided by the survey department which is predominantly Buddist occupied. second is techinically, it might not have been confirmed with the area GS after thier draft paln.
    One more similarity between the sacred stories in Deegwapiya and Dambulla, is the shape of the demarcarion. if some thing is a sacred land, usually the Temple must have been in the centre of the so called sacred area and the area should get shape of round/circle shape. but, in case of Deegawapi the temple is located in the one edge of the circle, and the calims of sacred land streches only towards Muslim living and cultivating areas in the east ward, not southward, or westward where Sihalese people echroched thousands of acres land, just only after the Hinguran Sugar installation.
    I am not arguing that the scred areas to be used for any other purposes. but it should be used only for the sake of Buddist religios purpose, not to evict minorites and occupy their lands and redistribute the same among Sinhlease as happen around Deegawapi.

  4. When you go to Kathragama there is a the great Hindu Kovil where we give bribes to God with fruits and garland, then next to that there is the Muslim Mosque ” Paadu Naji Baawa Masjid” This guy drink only milk till he die. Then the way to Kiriwehera. Those three God Business are happening in that area since my childhood. They do not care each other like Dambulla. I mean why cant Dambulla monks walk in the path of Buddha? Buddha walk to houses rich or poor and ate what they gave. He did not stay a wealthy life style. Buddha show us the ” Maithree, Karuna I don’t know the rest, whatever he was like Jesus walking but without long beard like Jesus telling people what’s naughty and what’s nice right? Why our Monks can’t walk like him and eat from houses? Why they want us to send AC vehicles for the ” Danea” and they always ask what we should make for the Danea? this is bad. When the ” Maithree” Buddha comes I will tell about our Monks personally to him.

  5. We have to be thankful to the muslim community since the muslims have stood by sri lanka no matter what through thick and thin war, tsunami, floods you name it they have never ever abandoned sri lanka. During all the terrible years of the terrorist LTTE war it is due to the fortitude of the muslims, indian tamils, catholics and burghers standing by sri lanka no matter what that the LTTE could not prevail nor the western countries terrible plans not succeed to divide sri lanka. I for one as a sinhalese buddhist is thankful for this. Even very recently at the UNHRC it is due to the muslim countries votes amongst others especially asian countries that sri lanka prevailed when the the western countries tried to do everything possible to harass and demonise bully sri lanka. So as sinhalese buddhists we should be thankful to the muslims, indian tamils, catholics, burghers for standing by sri lanka no matter what and for supporting sri lanka (their own country their motherland after all) all the way.

    What does it matter where a mosque is built? Sacred grounds should be sacred to everyone all religions. There is no such thing as ‘buddhist sacred grounds’. If there is a sizable muslim community in Dambulla, they need a mosque to worship. I as a sinhalese buddhist is proud that there is a sizable muslim community in Dambulla. It is a far cry from the facism of the LTTE their supporters in the west and prabhakaran who could not stand a single sinhala or muslim person living in the north. Even today the TNA constantly complains of sinhala colonisation and buddhist temples being built in the north. This is called racism pure and simple. Sinhalese have as much a right to live in the north as anyone else. There are thousands of mosques in sri lanka in the south especially in colombo. I as a sinhalese buddhist is proud of this fact. Long may this prevail.

    It is very good that the govt has stepped in and said they will build a mosque for the muslims to worship. It should happen soon. we sinhalese buddhists should not make mountains out of molehills. Besides buddhists and muslims have lived in harmony in sri lanka forever. It is interesting that the terrible western media as usual has blown this out of all proportion simply to tarnish sri lankas image yet again. Buddhists should live in harmony in brotherhood with the muslims. I personally dont care where this mosque is built whether on so called sacred ground (sacred to whom? there is no such thing as ‘buddhist sacred ground’) or not. In Kataragama, hindu, buddhist, and islamic places of worship are all built at the same sacred ground, same situation at ambuluwawa near kandy and even near temple of the tooth kandy there are hindu, buddhist temples and a church on the same sacred grounds. Anyway if people dont like it the mosque can be built elsewhere but there must and should be a mosque built for the muslims to worship as a matter of urgency and in a place of their liking. Best situation is for the muslims to feel happy wherever they are worshipping.

    Besides I as a sinhalese buddhist realise that muslims are an immportant sector of sri lanka society comprising 10% of the sri lankan population. They are not a mare minority. We should note this fact as sinhalese buddhists and act accordingly.

    Personally although buddhist, I dont care about religion at all. Religion is only there to guide people.

  6. We have to be thankful to the muslim community since the muslims have stood by sri lanka no matter what through thick and thin war, tsunami, floods you name it they have never ever abandoned sri lanka. During all the terrible years of the terrorist LTTE war it is due to the fortitude of the muslims, indian tamils, catholics and burghers standing by sri lanka no matter what that the LTTE could not prevail nor the western countries terrible plans not succeed to divide sri lanka. I for one as a sinhalese buddhist is thankful for this. Even very recently at the UNHRC it is due to the muslim countries votes amongst others especially asian countries that sri lanka prevailed when the the western countries tried to do everything possible to harass and demonise bully sri lanka. So as sinhalese buddhists we should be thankful to the muslims, indian tamils, catholics, burghers for standing by sri lanka no matter what. If not for the support of the muslims, indian tamils, catholics and burghers there won’t be a sri lanka left to speak of today. It would be divided according to the whims and fancies of the western countries for sure to fulfill their own selfish purposes.

    What does it matter where a mosque is built? Sacred grounds should be sacred to everyone all religions. There is no such thing as ‘buddhist sacred grounds’. If there is a sizable muslim community in Dambulla, they need a mosque to worship. I as a sinhalese buddhist is proud that there is a sizable muslim community in Dambulla. It is a far cry from the facism of the LTTE their supporters in the west and prabhakaran who could not stand a single sinhala or muslim person living in the north. Even today the TNA constantly complains of sinhala colonisation and buddhist temples being built in the north. This is called racism pure and simple. Sinhalese have as much a right to live in the north as anyone else. There are thousands of mosques in sri lanka in the south especially in colombo. I as a sinhalese buddhist is proud of this fact. Long may this prevail.

    It is very good that the govt has stepped in and said they will build a mosque for the muslims to worship. It should happen soon. we sinhalese buddhists should not make mountains out of molehills. Besides buddhists and muslims have lived in harmony in sri lanka forever. It is interesting that the terrible western media as usual has blown this out of all proportion simply to tarnish sri lankas image yet again. Buddhists should live in harmony in brotherhood with the muslims. I personally dont care where this mosque is built whether on so called sacred ground (sacred to whom? there is no such thing as ‘buddhist sacred ground’) or not. In Kataragama, hindu, buddhist, and islamic places of worship are all built at the same sacred ground, same situation at ambuluwawa near kandy and even near temple of the tooth kandy there are hindu, buddhist temples and a church on the same sacred grounds. Anyway if people dont like it the mosque can be built elsewhere but there must and should be a mosque built for the muslims to worship as a matter of urgency.

    Besides I as a sinhalese buddhist realise that muslims are an immportant sector of sri lanka society comprising 10% of the sri lankan population. They are not a mare minority. We should note this fact as sinhalese buddhists and act accordingly.

    Personally although buddhist, I dont care about religion at all. Religion is only there to guide people.

  7. When you go to Kathragama there is a the great Hindu Kovil where we give bribes to God with fruits and garland, then next to that there is the Muslim Mosque ” Paadu Naji Baawa Masjid” This guy drink only milk till he die. Then the way to Kiriwehera. Those three God Business are happening in that area since my childhood. They do not care each other like Dambulla. I mean why cant Dambulla monks walk in the path of Buddha? Buddha walk to houses rich or poor and ate what they gave. He did not stay a wealthy life style. Buddha show us the ” Maithree, Karuna I don’t know the rest, whatever he was like Jesus walking but without long beard like Jesus telling people what’s naughty and what’s nice right? Why our Monks can’t walk like him and eat from houses? Why they want us to send AC vehicles for the ” Danea” and they always ask what we should make for the Danea? this is bad. When the ” Maithree” Buddha comes I will tell about our Monks personally to him. I say our Muslims relax and wait. Because they ( Buddhist ) can’t go to heaven like you guys. None of the Buddhist pray for the real God. Which is Allaha which Prophet Mohmed (PBUH) met in the moon when a travel on that flying Baroq.

  8. 1. The shocking footage of the un-Buddhist monk and his mob inciting religious and racial hatred is indicative of the fact that it is the far right, particularly the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) which is a co-alition partner of the Rajapakse regime and not the so-called “LTTE rump” that is the greatest threat to peace in Sri Lanka at this time.
    2. The Muslim owner of the property and public minded citizens of all religions in Lanka should file a public interest litigation case against the monk and his followers for destruction of property and incitement to religious hatred and disturbing the peace.
    3. DM Jayaratne, the so-called Prime Minister, a FOOL, who is an insult to the people of Lanka, should be asked to resign for seeking removal of the mosque and giving into thugs and those who incite ethno-religious hatred. He had no understanding of the national question and is not fit to lead the Ministry that he heads. IN 2010 he forced school children in Jaffna to sing the national anthem in SInhala displaying his ignorance of the root causes of the war in Lanka. DM jayaratne should resign and be sent to the geriatric ward for fools and incompetents!
    4. The whole event shows the de-development of institutions and destruction of governance structures under the Rajaapske regime. The relevant authorities should have been able to negotiate a just settlement to the dispute. There are multiple Ministries such as the Ministry of Justice, National Languages and Social Integration, Religious Affairs etc. but none of them have the expertise or capacity to handle the issue which is now to be handled by the President who has concentrated power in his hands to such a degree that his jumbo cabinet of goons, fools and incomepetent Ministers was collectively unable to handle the situation which should not have got to this state while Rajapakse was off in Korea selling cheap Sri Lankan labour to Korea to cover the huge balance of payment deficit that the idiot at the Central Bank Nivard Cabral has accumulated. GDP growth does not add up as Stigliz and Sen wrote and is a misleading indicator of economic health in a country

  9. lanka says:

    “Religion is only there to guide people.”

    Religion is only there to misguide people in Sri Lanka.

  10. lanka

    “John Kotelawala referred to some Buddhist monks as ‘Rouges in Yellow robes’ and said that ‘some should be buried alive’.” – Dudley Senanayake of Sri Lanka by T D S A Dissanayaka, page 41.

    Was John Kotelawala right at the time?

  11. sumangala thero u are a hypocrit we and our buddhist mates have lived like sisters and brothers you will have to pay the price for breeding racism to the those who made laws out of no where,nirvana is definetely not for you!

    we love our motherland and we ask the almighty to protect it from monsters who
    breed disunity and shall you all rogues be punished in this world.

    DEVOTED CITIZEN

  12. What ever happened is past. Muslims are very friendly with us since beginning. Some of the great Muslim sons like colonel Muthaliff, Colonel A.F Laafir, have sacrificed their lives for the sake of our motherland. Muslims are live in many parts of the country side by side with Sinhaleese. We as Sri Lankans should care not to allow outsiders to destroy our brotherhood.

    I read some Tamil politicians like R. Sampanthan and Tamil nadu jokers like Karunanidhi weeping crocodile tears on Dambulla issue. I would like to ask them about their stance over the Tamil’s Kaththankudi Muslim mosque massacre where over 147 Muslims were killed on the spot while they were praying. Also about Akuressa cui side bombblast carried out by Tamil terrirists targeting innocent Muslims. Rudhrakumaran, another Tamil terrorist who live in the USA has sent a letter to UN by requesting an investigation on the issue. It is a big question that how this terrorist got moral right to do so while he is one of the member who responsible for Muslim ethnic cleansing on Oct. 1990. Muslims were forced to leave jaffna peninsula within 24 hours time by Tamil terrorists. I would like to ask these Tamil terrorists to wipe your own backs first.

    We should not give a chance to outside separatists to set blaze in our motherland. We Muslims, Tamils, Sinhalese should avt wise and protect the peace and stability in our country. Because we are Sri lankans.

  13. Among these” many conflicting versions”, there is no mention of the UNP faction that has aligned itself with the TNA.

    TNA leader recently demanded the Govt to stop sending Mobs to attack religious places like the Dambulla Mosque.

    Immedeately after, Hon Mr Ranil Wickremasinghe lashed out at the main dailiies in Srilanka, specially the English Broadsheets not giving headline coverage to this isolated and unfortunate incident.

    Now it apperas that this Bikku has or had strong ties with the real UNP stalwarts like the late Mr Premadasa.

    Could these add another dimension, or it is the only probable version?.

  14. Lod Koneshwaran annual festival was held recently in Trico, and the Navy Commander evedently was among the dignitaries.

    Lord Koneswaran Statue was floated on a Navy barge in its ritual parade in the Sea so that the thousands of devotees can pay respects to this holy Deity of the Hindus.

    There was no mention of Hon Mr Sambandan the MP and the Member for Trincomalee in the Guest List.

    May be he was too busy following up the progress of the Dambulla Mosque attack to find out ” Who done It”.

  15. I think this is an ideal time to transform “Sinhalese Buddhists” to “Buddhist Sinhalese”.
    Before Buddha preached his 1st Sermon, there were no Buddhists in the world at all. All were following different religions. May be that is why it was relatively easy for him and his disciples to explain the new vision to people who opt to listen to new ideas.
    Unfortunately, problem with majority of present day disciples in Sri-Lanka is that their Buddhist perceptions have been distorted with ethnically oriented conceptual adjectives such as “Sinhalese”.
    First one should be a real Buddhist. Then he will understand the true but limited meaning of the concepts such as Sinhalese Buddhism. As I heard, such Buddhist Sinhalese lived during Dutu Gamunu days and they were brave people in all aspects including intellectual capabilities.

  16. Basically, if we would be able to find an answer for one outstanding question, this problem could have been solved long time ago even this is not a time to debate over this issue. The so-called “sacred zone conception” has to be defined and verified with the teaching of Buddha through scripts of Buddhism. Whenever Gauthama Buddha is travels, visits or walks in any countries or areas after his enlightenment, the particular areas have to be considered as sacred place according to Buddhism principles.
    But our question is when did Buddha visit Sri Lanka and by which source of transport he used
    to travel. As far as Buddhism in Sri Lanka concerned, there are no any historical evidences or even not mentioned in inscriptions (Sila lipi) that he has visited Sri Lanka. If he has not visited Sri Lanka then how did Dambulla become as sacred place. If he came to Lanka he would have used air plane or ship…. but these travel sources were not existence in any way during his era. Our intention is not to insult or criticize this noble philosopher. But what our concerning is about his followers are blindly believing and saying something while using his noble name which are not true. On the basis of this, we request our Buddhist brothers not to harm the name of Buddha by attacking other religious places where they have used for the purpose of worshiping for many decades. You may claim sacred land where the Rangiri Viharaya is situated which we respect as your holy places. The relocation of this Mosque is unethical and sorts of displaying your arrogance which is not our understanding of Buddhism. we believe that this country is belongs to all peoples with equal rights which guaranteed by our constitution.

  17. This is not a monk. Just a nazi skinhead wearing robes. The government is quick to transfer police, who were only doing their jobs, to hardship postings. May I suggest the same to be done this ‘monk’ and he be sent to Puttalama or Beruwala…

    Let these people pray in peace. They have done no harm and should be allowed to continue as they have done for the last 65 years.

    As for pelting and ransacking the mosque, that is disgraceful as the attack on Dalada Maligawa. No different in my eyes. The ring leaders and the mob should be rounded up.

    There is something fundamentally rotten in the people who become our monks. Just as the 3rd Buddhist Council seeked to rid corrupted monks and their beliefs, we need something like that.

    I am pretty tired of going to funeral (where the monk pays tribute to the deceased as somebody who did immense services to his country, race (sinhala), religion (in that order too) to bana discourses which become political diatribes. The monks should be those first to rid themselves of such attachments.

    My own personal opinion is this outdated practice of letting kids become monks (partly to escape poverty) before they know anything in life is part of the problem. This is something that needs to change.

    As for my muslim brothers and sisters – I offer my apologies. Most of us do not forget. Lafir, Muthalif, Nizam, Meedin etc. are in our hearts. Who is this monk and his followers in comparison. Just small minded rabble rousers.

  18. The issue is very subjective matter to be discussed in details, but one thing I would like to ask from the so called monk and his supporters including the DM Jayaratna (PM). If the mosque which is only for worshipping god, in so called sacret area, to be relocated, what about many liquor shops, restuarant and hotels where people are indulging in illigal sex and other activities which are against the teaching of Buddha. Therefore, I request the right thinking people to remove all such place before the mosque being removed.

    Wickrama

  19. Lord Buddha, himself would not consider any possession to be rightful in the path to attain Nibbana. However, the present day monks do not seem to be aware of this. May be the various kings started the practice of gifting lands to the temple to show off and probably the Buddhist monks of those days willingly accepted. But in this day and age when we have the capacity ot analyse issues impartially can we become better Budhists than what we have become over the centuries?

    On the part of the Islamic followers, it will be great to see if they willingly relocate, rather than become obstinate that they have the ‘right’ to worship. It is in unconditional giving and love that you can instill in both communities as well (as the rest of the world) what our religions really teach us, not what the parties interested teach us. else we will end up like the Palastine always suspecious, never giving in and never winning anything. Only the innocent will suffer in the process.

    May saner counsel prevail.

  20. I don’t know whetehr, the monk likes that kind of activities to be kept within the sacret area for him to indulge and, only he needs peace loving and worshipping tamils and muslims to be remvoed from those areas. This is purely a racism orchestarated by the Sihala urumaya. there are about 27 hotels & restuarants and 9 liqor shops(registred & Unregistered). All of which are to be kept in the sacrat area other than the tamil kovil and mosqu. Very strange………

  21. Mr.President/Prime Minister!
    Remember this power is not for ever, if you both do not know the world history ask your advisers-about the fate of the dictators like Kadafi, Musharaf, Husny Mubarak, Iddi Ameen, Marcos, Hitler. We pray for you to end up in Geneva again and then to Hague.

  22. After reading all the comments I am happy all the people who had commented are sri lankans not the people belongings to different ethnic groups.

  23. Hello My sinhalese frinds,

    I do not have a grudge against you as you do not hold responsible for few narrow minded peoples act same apply to the moslems if they engage in despicable act like the few monks(?)
    hope we all learn from our mistakes.

  24. What is ghastly is the deafening silence by the nation’s leadership about this national disgrace? By ‘leadership’ I do not curtail it only to the political leadership – but in a broader sense, also to include the leadership of the major religions. Where is the response of the three Maha Nayakas? And that of Cardinal Malcolm Ranjith and Bishop Riyappu? The onus is smack on the shoulders of each and every one of you to denounce this blasphemous act. Each of you has earned your leadership position so that you may dispense your responsibility as the society’s spiritual pillars. So far all of you have been very quite. When Quran burning was about to be begun by a small church in Florida couple of years ago, it was the National Association of Evangelicals that came out speaking against it. I respectfully appeal to you to make a statement strongly denouncing this act, both independently and jointly. It is not only the political leaders who have the responsibility to foster national reconciliation, but also leaders of other areas – especially leaders of the major religions. A joint statement by the Mahanayakes, and the Catholic and Hindu leadership will go a long way to help bring the disparate communities together.

    As for president Rajapaksa, sir, the entire world is watching to see how you would handle this matter: either as a true statesman or ‘just another bottom-up politician’. This is an exceptional opportunity for you to prove to the world that you in fact can solve national conflicts with home-grown solutions – as you have consistently bragged – and exercise the full powers of your office to bring relief to the victims and punish the perpetrators to the maximum extent permissible by the law. Decisive action by you will send a clear and strong message to other potential bigots that religious intolerance will not be tolerated by your government. Such statesmanship will also send a message of confidence to the international community to bug-out of Sri Lanka’s internal affairs and that you are quite capable of ensuring social justice. But two days since your return from overseas, your response has been muted and disappointing – considering the distance from Seoul, it could not be the jet-lag!

  25. Dear Sri Lankans,

    Belief and practising religion is human right. As sri lankan people should not fight each other. As a good muslim believer, when I am in foriegn country I always says called myself as sri lankan. and I expain to foriegnes our religious freedom and unity. Please make a dialog without fighting each other protecting to religous rights of sri lankan. Please do not jelous each other, sri lankans are people who are practising a religion. this effect to country ethical states also. There should be a worship place for every religion. human can not live without religion and belief. I want to say sri lanka should always unite and help each other for fellow sri lankans. with best wishes, wessalam.

  26. Let all the Muslims go to Saudi, All the Budhists and Hidus to India, All Christians to Rome. Let only “Meeharaka’s ” live in Sri Lanka. Problem solved.

  27. First I should say I am against removing any religious sites. However I would like to ask from Muslim and Tamil friends do you really care where you put your religious sites? For example in Bangladesh and Pakistan most Buddhist sites were destroyed. Bangladeshi Buddhists are daily harassed. They can’t even worship freely. Do you speak about them? Saudi Arabia for example never allows any religious sites other than Muslim. There are kovils in Sinhalese areas. We don’t say anything. Some Muslim mosques chanting religious stuff early morning without giving scant regard to other people who may worship other religions. Are you tolerant yourself? Sinhalese been attacked in Tamilnadu too. I am not justifying Inamaluve Thero. However as soon as we give little areas to settle Muslims and Tamils settle first. Arrange brides from their places. Buy the next land , adjacent land one by one. never sell them back to Sinhalese and after few years new community with mosque or kovil sprang up and some of the buildings are simply illegal. They pay money to Local council leaders. (Bribes). is this not the situation in the South? Most of us know these things but keep quiet because we do not want to marked as nationalists. Those Tamils who complain Buddha statues in Jaffna (I don’t really bother about Statues though) should look themselves how many Hindu god statues exist in South. It’s about time you stop your Racist single ethnic expansions too.

  28. The ‘Sacred cocept’ is one of the religious right of the Budism in Sri Lanka. As very correctly mentioned by Dr. Laksiri Fernando, the government has to appolgize from the etire Muslims first in Srilanka then worldwide. Because the ligitimate government is duty bound and responsible to safe guard the religiuos rights of other minorities in the country.
    The concept of sacred city or ‘pooja boomi’ is so confused. This does not necessarily means that the valuable teachings of Buddah is confused. the concept of sacred city is very clearly a well planed attemp to establish a religious hegimoney. It is not definitely buddism, but in the name of Buddism, they try to install Sinhalese-hegimoney in the areas where minorities have been living for cenuries. Any body can livie in this country anywhere, but not at the cost of de-stablizing a weeker community like Christians, Tamils, Muslims and Burgers of this country.

    Mosques are not use for dancing, shougting, or carnivesl, but they are used for peaceful purification of the souls. those who go to mosque will definitely be refraining from liqure, theft, lying, killing or any sins. The muslims who perform pray in a mosques is trying to addehere the teachings of Islam, which ultimatlely keep him away, from doing bad things, i,e, criminal activities. In a way, they support to uphold the rule of law and order in the society and to create a descipline society. For this only, the government is putting its fullest effort by huge money pumped to the police and juduciary.
    So, having a mosque, or church or Hindu Shrine next toa leading Pansala, or so called self declared sacred area, will definitely support to strenghten the descipline in the particular area, which is the real purpose of teachings of Buddah.
    But, in the case Mob attakcs on Dambulla mosque, I would like to ask the militant-thero, whether he trying to demolish a place which could be used for descipline-building in the area, and is trying to develop and promote sex-business with the liquer busness m.p. and to see only the naked and half naked tourists in the sacred area, ???

    Please, try to develop a descipline society in the sacred area.
    “why this Kolawery” against Muslims, Hindus and Christians, my dear Chief thero ??????????

  29. Chandana says “We as Sri Lankans should care not to allow outsiders to destroy our brotherhood” hum…. we will do it to ourselves? destroy small brothers place of worship? other small brothers’ homes and lives?

  30. Wickrama says:

    “Therefore, I request the right thinking people to remove all such place before the mosque being removed.”

    So you still want the Mosque to be removed. I can understand why you want to remove unholy alliance of sex and alcohol from the sacred city but I don’t understand why you need to remove another sacred house of worship from the sacred city.

  31. The Dambulla incident has touched a raw nerve in many people, including the Sinhala-Buddhists. It is a national shame.

    Such incidents should not be repeated ever again. The only way to stop these is for the law to act and justice to be served. Those responsible should be charged and jailed if guilty. The Prime Minister should be held responsble for acting in the manner he did. If he is an honourable man, he should resign.

    During a conversation here in Colombo yesterday someone- a Tamil- said that 90% of Buddhist monks are criminals. I had to argue against this. The majority of monks are decent , pious and serve their people well. Of course there are criminal monks and the fault lies in they being not disrobed. What is also shameful is that criminal monks- womanizers,homosexuals, perverts, child abusers, drunkards, Golden-Key account holders and businessmen, in robes, are patronized by the state and given a say in political affairs. There is definitely, a need for urgent reform of the Sangha. The Kings of old, used to set up mechanisms to reform the Sangha, when there was a need for it. The time is also ripe for this now. Will the government act?

    While I have been a vociferous advocate to forgive the past and relegate that part of our history to the mental archives, I feel it will be a crime to remain silent, when the grounds are being prepared to repeat that history. We have had enough of that history. The government has to act on the Dambulla incident and punish those who took law into their hands. The Buddhost monks have to be told where the ‘Luxshman Reka’ is, in no uncertain terms. Justice must be done and we must see it being done. Pussyfooting will not do.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  32. Punishing the wrong doers is a must. not only for the damages caused to the prayer house(it is not a mosque by their own admission)but to the national

  33. Bad behavior from anybody especially from clergy is regrettable. Those who damaged the prayer house(this is not a mosque per se by admission of the users)must be punished for they not only damaged property but brought undue bad reputation to the country.

    The fault mainly lies with chief monk for letting somthing that could have been removed with the finger nails to develop in to a crisis.

    To rectify the situation as it is now one of the two,the temple or the prayer house, has to go. Sooner the saner decision made lesser the damage to people,property and the country as a whole.

    This would have been resolved amicably if not for some selfish politicains got involved for political milage.

    It is sad some people while claiming the sacredness of the prayer house question the sacredness of the thousands of years old temple.

    This whole episode has politacal undertones and every one when making their mind one way or the other must be very careful not to fall prey to unscrupulous schemes.

    there is no need for ‘Laxmana Rekas’If the majority of the monks are decent and serve the people well. What is needed is to activate the systems already there to reign in the unruly few.

  34. Rajasingham Narendran,
    If history has taught as taught us anything –it is that justice will NOT be done in this instance as in the past.
    I will ask you again in 6 months about this incident–time enough for the govt you praise constantly to act I assume??

  35. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran:

    “Justice must be done and we must see it being done. Pussyfooting will not do.”

    Do you still believe that justice should not be done to those people who were killed by the state armed forces since 5th April 1971 which in your opinion would derail the peace process as if there is one?

    So you would like to see justice is done for the Muslims and not for the Tamils and Sinhalese. I find your position bit odd.

  36. Native Vedda,

    Pre-May 2009 equation is balanced. Trying to find shades of differences in the ‘Terror’unleashed and the ‘brutal war’ fought by both parties to the conflict, is an exercise in futility. It will not help or heal. It will only exacerbate existing wounds, considering our cultural predilections. We are essentially not a forgiving people!

    This does not however, condone the mischievous and inhuman acts of the GOSLs to marginalize the Tamils in the pasr. I saw how the sacred city project in Katharagama/Kathirkamam unfolded to negate the Hindu ambience of this ancient Murugan shrine!

    I have attempted to focus attention on present and future possibilities and not dwell on a morbid past. The past is past. The present is with us and the future will unfold. We can make a diferrence to the pressent and the future. We should react to nip any attempt to repeat past mistakes in the bud. We should react to not only issues that affect the Tamils, but also those affecting the other peoples in Sri Lanka.

    Dev,

    If more people- Sinhala, Tamil and Muslim- raise their voices against such incidents, the more effective it will be. Unlike in the past, the internet provides the means to do so.This is already happening, as seen in the comments here and elswhere.

    You accuse me of constantly praising the government, while others have said that I have tried to occupy the middle ground.
    I can only say that I have been trying to steer a course towards current and future concerns, without unduly/ unncessarily dwelling on the past. I have also looked at the past as part of the ‘Growing up’ pains of Sri Lanka as a modern nation. Hiowever, we cannot be ‘Growing up’all the time! It is time we behave like adults in a responsible manner. Our experiencs of the past should propel us into adulthood faster. I have also tried to give credit where credit was due in the post-war developments, because I have seen how tragedy and hoplessness has been transformed into the begiinnings of resurgence and hopefullness.

    NAK,

    Whether it was a prayer room or mosque does not matter. It was a place of worship for the Muslims . It does not matter whether it was a place of worship for one day or one century. If it was an illegal structure, the law should have been the arbiter, and not a mob led by monks. Further, sanctity is not limited to one religion. Why should a ‘Sacred area’ exclude places of worship of other religions? What is the difference between us and the Taleban?

    A ‘Buddha’ statue has been installed in the taxi stand next the the Pillayar temple in Bambalapitiya. The Hindu temple has stood there for close to a century. While the intent of installing the Buddha statue seems malicious, I personally have no objections to it. The more the merrier, if such proliferation of staues will make us a better people. I in fact advocate that this statue should be accomodated within the Pillyar temple, as a mark of respect for a ‘Great Hindu’, who was a breeze of fresh air in a ritual, dust and cobweb laden Hinduism.

    Further, there MUST be a ‘Luxshman Reka’ for not only Buddhist monks, but all citizens, when it comes to matters that threaten national security or impinge on the rights and sensitivities of other peoples. The Buddhist monks, who are trying to cross this line should be read the war act by the GOSL. They are not only hurting the fragile reconciliation process, but are also disgracing Buddhism. They are most importantly hurting Sri Lanka on the international scene, at a very critical time. They are doing more damage than Karunanithy, his ilk, the TGTE and BTF combined. The robe should not provide shelter to criminals.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  37. I have to agree with Dr.Rajasingham Narendran. But I cant give an exact figure of good Buddhist monks. But I know a lot who depend on religious business. All the religions and other similar mythical business. That includes from “Sasthra karayo to Kendara karayo”. This is a big shame for Sri lankans to have majority of our people believe this nonsonce. That’s because of our education infrastructure. So end of the day we have to blame the government. And then the President.

  38. These words are to my fellow muslims,

    Read fetur rabbani book to get rid of from ego, so you can understand what you should do in your life…
    keeping ego you can not find answers for the problem.
    and also you should follow kuran and sunnah and low, so you can protects others and own rights.
    also you can read risale nur book, to learn about facts shows about modern world from the kuran and hadis and how to live.
    muslim should stop harm and threat to fellow human, should respect other religion.
    if mosque issue making such a huge problem and harm to other fellow human, why we can not have it on another land. important is not the place, but intension and worship. we also can support to build it…
    also muslim should teach to their children, always show good behavior to fellow human regardless their religion. importnat is not word but action.
    I would like to appologize from fellow human, if inconvienious and difficulty occurd from t my fellow muslims. I pray to solve the problem in best way to all.

  39. Interesting article i read i give below.Is this a random act or an insidous campaign against muslims starting now that the more dangerous tamil problem had been dealt with.Is there a muslim phobia beginning here like in the west,that is the important question to ask.If so better nip it in the bud before we have another headache one day.

    http://www.lakbimanews.lk/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=5250:vihanga-perera-writes-qis-sri-lanka-in-the-throes-of-an-anti-muslim-waveq&catid=46:columns&Itemid=50

  40. I have a solution, let’s relocate all religious buldings, including the temple somewhere else. Absured you say? Yes, it is. But that is how relocating the Mosque sounds to the non-buddhists and even the buddhists who don’t hold that “extreme” view.

    Haven’t we learnt enough through the anti-Tamil thinking of some so called leaders from decades ago resulted in LTTE rising up? Why cause unnecessary heartache to our children by further dividing this country?

    Maybe we should all listen to John Lennon once again….

    Imagine there’s no countries
    It isn’t hard to do
    Nothing to kill or die for
    And no religion too
    Imagine all the people living life in peace

    You, you may say I’m a dreamer,
    but I’m not the only one
    I hope some day you’ll join us
    And the world will be as one!

  41. Dr.Rajasingham Narendran says

    there are criminal monks and the fault lies in they being not disrobed. What is also shameful is that criminal monks- womanizers,homosexuals, perverts, child abusers, drunkards, Golden-Key account holders and businessmen, in robes, are patronized by the state and given a say in political affairs. There is definitely, a need for urgent reform of the Sangha. The Kings of old, used to set up mechanisms to reform the Sangha, when there was a need for it. The time is also ripe for this now. Will the government act?
    ——————
    Dear friend,
    I fully agreed with you.

    I accept that there are some buddhidt monks who involving with this sort of malpractices. But normally buddhist allowed to imposing the law against them. The reason incedence was MIHINTHALE CASE. there is an ongoing caurt case against the monk.
    The mahanayake of Malwatte chapter,withdew the relavent monk’s all posts. Buddhists didn’t make objection.

    Infact prevailling law provision might not be suffecient enough to make sustainable solution, in order to freventing from the social damage, buddhist acting by their own way. Example is rev, RUWANWELLE SOBITHA who doig black-magic. Buddhists rushed his property and forced him to evaquate.

    It is not good to generalise this sort of incedences to all buddhist monks. CULPRITES SHOULD BE FUNISH.

    But DAMBULLA case is some what different. You may ask why the INAMALUWE THERO was not headding for legal action?
    DO STILL BELIEVE MUSLIMS ABET WITH LAW?

    If answare is yes, better to studying KOORAGALA CASE.

    KOORAGALA IS ANCIENT BUDDHIST PREMISS. Muslims by fabricating bogest story make unauthorised construction. Buddhits and as well as arcuelagical department went leagle procedure, got order to demollished so called unauthorised constructions. But due to political power they are still exists and raacently the place re name as JAYANIE.
    So what is the concequens. NOTHING

    THAT’S WHY MUSLIMS ARE ASKING IF ANY WRONG BETTER TO GO COURT.

  42. You reap what you sow,
    The muslim majority of aluthkade attacked the st. sebastian church with petrol bombs, damaged the religious objects of veneration, threatened the parish priest with death and chased him away.
    the mob re named the st. sabastion school as ‘ST. SEBASTIAN MUSLIM MAHA VIDYALAYA’
    Mr. AHM Fawzie who was a student of these church schools did what he is doing today. act in a way to protect his vote base. in sinhala we say ‘ okaa kaapu pinganay rena ekanay.
    what happens at aluthkade today will happen in Dambulla too, once the muslims become a majority like at aluthkade.

    The sacred area will be renamed as RANGIRI BAMBULU MUSLIM POOJA BOOMI

    BEWARE REMEMBER, THE FATE OF THE BAMIAN BUDDHA STATUES. ACT NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE.

    Protect Kuragala, Anuradhapura, Somawathieya, Sri Paada ect. ect.

    a concerned citizen

  43. W.M.K. Samarasekera,

    Thanks for your broad minded response. I surmise that it only a handful of monks who are of the bad sort I have discribed. I have argued against the sweeping allegation that most (90%) Buddhist monks are of the bad sort. I have had contact with many monks in my life and have much respect for many of them, especially those who are erudite, pious and lead a simple life. Those living in the aramayas, are special.

    There are also criminal Brahmin priests, criminal Christian priests and criminal Moulavi’s, amongst a multitude of good ones. Criminality is not limited to some Buddhist monks. However, what is wrong is the state patronage these criminal monks receive and the prominence they undeservedly are given.

    No one should be above the law and the dicates of justice. I view the Dambulla incident as a breach of law by criminal elements, whether they be monks or laymen. The threat the leading monk made to the Tamil-Hindu women, is also of a criminal nature. It is recorded on video and should bolster further the case against him.

    Mr.Sambanthan appealing to the government to legalize the illegal Pillyar temple extension in Trincomalee, is as bad as illegally removing the mosque in Dambulla. The burning of several evangelical churches and even a catholic church in various parts of the country by apparently one gang of monks and laymen, in recent times, shows a pattern of execution of evil intent. The Dambulla incident should be the full stop to such nonsense. There should not be any rationalization or accomodation with such evil acts any more.

    Both the government machinary and the Buddhist Sangha machinary should take action against this monk and his coterie, immediately.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

  44. This is a sensitive issue that needs to be resolved with care and sensitivity and giving full consideration to facts and evidence in existence. Removal of the building that has been used as a mosque apparently for more than half a century by violence or machinations of the government agencies or reckless politicians is detrimental to the harmony of the local residents and peace of the nation. Whether Sinhalese Buddhists can tolerate it or not, the said mosque has been there all this time; and the community in Sri Lanka should respect the multiracial and multicultural nature of Sri Lankan society to live in peace with the local inhabitants. If the Muslim community is posing a violent threat to the local Sinhalese community or the Buddhist inheritance of the area it is a different matter. In this controversy it seems the lifestyle of a small but thriving Muslim community that is being threatened. Either there should be space for the mosque to remain in the location earmarked as a Buddhist sacred area or it may relocated outside the scared area to a location agreeable to the both Muslim and Buddhist communities.
    The politicians, lawyers, administrators, police and the community leaders should resolve the dispute in a legal and orderly manner. Sri Lanka had a 30 year war with the Tamil Tigers and we don’t want to turn the clock back. Sinhalese community and Buddhist monks should endeavour to resolve this matter amicably and win the hearts and minds of the Muslim community of the area and Sri Lanka.

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