A bit long, but very good article, which gave me such revelations as to why it is so difficult for Sri Lankans to really, truly become a united people:
Extremism is fuelled by ignorance. In Sri Lanka, every religious community has ghettoised itself. We interact less with each other and know less about each other than we did fifty years ago. This separation starts at school and continues right to the grave. We boast that Sri Lanka is home to four great religions, but our children are not taught even the basics of other religions. We know next to nothing of each other’s history. This ignorance provides a fertile ground for extremists of all varieties. It makes the task of demonising and dehumanising the religious Other easier.
I was only partially aware that schools here are not only separated by gender, but also by religion. There is a strong ‘We – them’ thinking, fostered from as early as kindergarten.
The other very insightful bit is how not having a common language (English was introduced as an official language only a while ago, and only the younger, well educated here have a decent command of it) leads to misunderstandings, which triggered the most recent riots:
The outburst of anti-Muslims violence began on 12th Sunday in Chilaw (the inciting incident seemingly was a Facebook post by a Muslim trader with deficient English and a cavalier attitude towards punctuation; it was translated into Sinhala by a Sinhalese whose knowledge of English was even poorer). Within hours, the violence spread to other parts of the North Western Province and to Gampaha district. Undeterred by the curfew or the presence of the security forces, the mobs attacked and burnt, as they did in Digana in 2018, Aluthgama in 2014 and nationally during Black July.
Notice how this article does not say ANYTHING about WHY?
In a similar post earlier they at least said ‘tense situation’
From the rumor mill we hear that local media is under orders to not report anything. From foreign news like Channel News Asia we found out the reason for last night’s curfew was inter-ethnicity quarrels in the North. Let’s see what we find out tomorrow.
And we only found out when we noticed that our social media was not working, again. Local news have been quiet on details regarding this story, they only informed about new curfew and new social media block.
I later heard from our driver that it came down to one facebook comment taken the wrong way and that got people to start throwing stones at mosques and muslim owned businesses. (which, by the way, is nothing new in Sri Lanka’s short period of ‘peace’ since their civil war .. see 2013 or just last year.
It is very sad to see that apparently Sri Lanka keeps selecting option #2
After getting through the super annoying ‘hands on – pat down’ security check (by a very incompetent looking ‘just for show’ security guard) to get into Lanka Hospital, Julius sat down for a 40 minute procedure get get his teeth wired.
This came across my news desk today and is being backed up by an email from the Japanese Embassy. They go more into detail saying (via google translate) “It is the Ramadan month of Islam until around June 7 here. In recent years, many terrorist attacks have occurred around the world in and around Ramadan month.”
This is all very comforting …
Update: Ok, this above warning has kinda been rebuked, well, at least we have been told through ‘official channels’ that this is a probably just a rumor, rated ‘not so credible’ BUT we still should be super vigilant and avoid those areas …
Finally, after several hiccups regarding finding a good orthodontist we are now getting started on orthodontics for Julius.
After some x-rays and consultation with the specialist at Lanka Hospital, he got some preliminary rubber inserts that already keep bugging him and come Saturday, we are going for the full metal armour on his teeth.
Fun times ahead.