Tuesday, June 6, 2017
RADICALIZATION – How to prevent the worst outcome, there from!
Wikipedia Defines it: Radicalization is a process by which an individual, or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.
The outcomes of radicalization are shaped by the ideas of the society at large, for example, radicalization can originate from a broad social consensus against progressive change in society or from a broad desire for change in society. Radicalization can be both violent and non-violent, although most academic literature focuses on radicalization into violent extremism.
Radicalization that occurs across multiple reinforcing pathways greatly increases a group’s resilience and lethality.
De radicalization refers to preventive counterterrorism measures that aim to have those with extreme and violent religious or political ideologies, to adopt more moderate and non-violent views.
Let’s face it, we are now ONLY concerned with violent form of radicalization, why it happens and what can we do to counter it, or effectively stop it happening in its tracks as speedily and practically as possible.
While the world is currently concentrating on Islamic Fundamentalists who have been radicalized to the extent of committing violence against the society they are living in, and putting a huge amount of resources to counter it, we must not be blind to its possibilities from other disaffected communities who can just as easily be radicalized in its violent form.
SRI LANKAN CONTEXT
If Sri Lankan history is any indicator, the JVP uprising was the forebear of violent extremism, due to a political ideology which believed that change could ONLY happen with violence. The natural base for them were the disaffected youth, educated, but unable to find a satisfactory economic independence, from this educational freedom, and saw the establishment as its culprit, and wanted to replace the status quo with THEIR IDEOLOGY!
With so much experience therefore, we have failed to grasp, that lurking in the wings is a new religious ideology in opposing camps, that appeals to disgruntled youth, which opportunists are busy, behind the scenes, in manipulating their minds to this extremism, that WILL RESULT in violence as the only means of achieving their objectives. WE MUST STOP ITS PROGRESS and hopefully reverse this, but by providing a more palatable alternative.
SO what are the two opposing camps?
We have extreme Sinhala Buddhism that appeals to “LAZY” youth – the ‘rasthiyadu karayas’ who want to ride around in a bike, litter the junctions in three wheelers and blame all the problems they have on someone else, who are UNWILLING to take control of their lives and be goal oriented in a world full of opportunity, for which hard-work (brainwork too) is the only means. Young Bhikkus who see the material world take over their lives are also easily attracted to this cause, as they see MAMMON in the form of successful Muslims, traders from birth, rule their surroundings with every type of temptation for sale at a price and profit, quite the opposite of their beliefs of trying to remove desire!
ENVY takes over, and unless the elders summon the extremists into believing it is as against Buddhist values as other teachings, and counter, by teaching the true principles of Buddhism, that have been forgotten, leading many to forsake their religion because of it, and thus deal with their frustrations internally, rather than take it out on others. That will preserve the purity of Buddhist values.
On the other hand in Islam we have fundamentalist teachers, many of whom come from Saudi Arabia with state patronage, extolling literal interpretation of the Quran. This widespread indoctrination has completely transformed Sri Lankan Muslims, from more liberal traits of Sufism, where there is a ‘live and let live’ philosophy respecting other beliefs and most especially the ‘freedom of choice’ to a very rigid dress code, and strict rules on what they eat, as well as how they live and pray associating only with likeminded, that has actually ghettoized and stifled a once thriving community of fun loving people intermingled with all races, which was evidenced in the 1980s and before.
The young people coming out of this culture, cannot and will not mix and have ideas of exclusion that limit their exposure to their OWN community only, which will only result in disdain for the host community that lives a very different life creating a schism that is NOW reflective of the tension.
They have also been indoctrinated that Holy War is acceptable in the literal sense and taking arms on behalf of their belief will reward them in heaven! This will justify any act of terrorism, no matter what the law of the land is, creating a similar problem that is faced in the Middle with ISIS, that can only be eliminated by force. This belief if untenable within Sri Lanka!
Most in the Muslim community have failed to come to terms with this as an aberration and have DONE NOTHING to restore the status quo amongst the community that existed and instead passively allowed this ideology to rule them. This is creating a powder keg that will only ignite in flames, unless both communities make an effort to be more reasonable. Just look at the difference between how Muslims behave in Kattankudy and Colombo and you will know what I mean. You may as well be in some small Saudi Town, where even liberal Dubai would be seen as Haram, in observing some East Coast Towns!
With the increase in numbers, and the insistence of their religious elders in supporting Muslim Political Parties to get more political clout, and be king makers of any Government, due the power and leverage they have, creates angst within the host community, that is understandable. Something has got to give in order to re-establish a sense of Nation, Community and the long term well being of the Country which had harmonious relations with all communities in the past.
Multiple factions fighting in the Middle East, and Jihadi recruitment, further deified in Social Media, is why young people find outlets and reinforcement for their beliefs and rather than be passive in the face of aggression will resort to violence, knowing they have political clout to back them.
This threat referred to above has further exacerbated the Minority complex of the majority Sinhala population, who feel they have NO where to run, as they are restricted to Sri Lanka, and Sinhala Buddhism of a tiny minority of say 15 Million have to face a Muslim Behemoth of 2Billion people worldwide who ALL identify with each other due to the strong bond of religion that puts Islam above Nationalism and Nationhood. This lack of patriotism is a further thorn!
We must face it. Buddhism is MORE tolerant than Islam, and therein lies the root of this problem. Islam of today is more fundamentalist than Islam practiced in Sri Lanka for a thousand years. I know mixed marriages, where the husband is Buddhist and the wife remains Muslim and she is rejected by her community for marrying a Muslim. I also know situations where the Husband is Muslim and he insisted that the wife becomes a Muslim to marry, as it is NOT permitted in their religion. This kind of logic, of different rules, and the insistence of the Muslim Marriages Law that overrides the law of the land are all contentious issues that have created much disquiet amongst the Host Community.
I don’t believe it is a chicken and egg situation, where we are arguing which has taken precedence. It is simply that the Muslim community MUST be cognizant of the anxiety that is justified in the host community and must acknowledge a degree of justified concern about the turn of events, and stop playing into the hands of the fundamentalists for fear of being branded un Muslim.
I believe it is due to the passive acceptance of extreme doctrine WITHOUT contradicting its practice in order to keep the peace in the minority community that has created a SILENT MAJORITY of Muslims unwilling to act and hence this is the real problem that MUST BE solved as a priority IMMEDIATELY if religious tolerance it to prevail. It takes two to tango.
"HATE CRIMES AGAINST MUSLIM" is just an EXCUSE to avoid the CORE of the problem, namely the fundamentalism of the MANY and the bellicose comments within the Muslim Community that is creating the fear and knee-jerk reaction amongst a FEW.