Category Archives: religiosity

The World Fellowshp of Buddhists Assembled in September 2016

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February 16, 2017 · 1:29 pm

Talaivar Pirapāharan embodied in Notebooks: One Mark of the LTTE’s Remarkable Propaganda Machinery

Michael Roberts

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These three images adorn the cover of little notebooks, each 4 inches in height and 2.7 inches breadth, in my possession. They were purchased by me at Kilinochchi on 27th November 2004 when I visited the administrative capital of the state of Thamilīlam[1] during the ceasefire. The tale is recounted below as entry-point to a portrait of the LTTE’s remarkable innovations.

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Sinhalaness in the Middle Period and in Wars Against Colonial Intrusions

Chris Speldewinde, in the The Australian Journal of Anthropology, vol. r19, No. 1, 2008, reviewing  Michael Roberts. Sinhala Consciousness in the Kandyan Period 1590s to 1815. Colombo 4, Sri Lanka: Vijitha Yapa Publications. 2004. Pp.xx +274, bibliog., index. US$60.00 (He), ISBN 955-8095-31-1.

Having spent a considerable period during my undergraduate studies of anthropology concentrating on cultural aspects of Sri Lankan society, I was enthusiastic to have been given the opportunity to read and review this work by Michael Roberts. In this latest addition to his many volumes of work on his native Sri Lanka, Roberts, has provided a rich tapestry of the period pre-dating the formalisation of British colonial rule on the island of Sri Lanka. He examines the forms of reaction of a society affected by migrating Indians from the north and European colonial expansion, beginning with the arrival of the Portuguese in the mid-sixteenth century and later, the Dutch and the British. This book provides a considerable amount of both historiographical and ethnographic material, from a wide range of sources to keep the reader engrossed in the development of distinct ethnic identities on this island nation. The use of verbal history passed on through poems and songs from the period is used extensively to substantiate Roberts’ theories of the development of a definitive Sinhalese ethnic identity.

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An Egyptian Journalist’s Introduction to Jailhouse Jihadism and Al Jazeera’s Partisan Activities

Robert Fisk, in The Island, 2 January 2017, where the title is “Living among Jihadis in an Egyptian prison” … with emphasis in highlights being The Editor, Thuppahi’s imposition

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To interview a jihadi is one thing, to live among jihadis quite another. To share their prison cells and their jail trucks on the way to a dictatorship’s trials is both a journalist’s dream and a journalist’s nightmare. Which makes Mohamed Fahmy a unique figure: in a prison bus, he hears his fellow inmates rejoicing at the beheading of a captured journalist in Syria. “They won’t let us out,” a voice shouts at Fahmy in Egypt’s ghastly Tora prison complex. “We haven’t seen the sun for weeks.” And he hears the rhythmic voices of prisoners reciting the Koran.

Fahmy, who is an Egyptian with Canadian citizenship, is the Al Jazeera English channel reporter who spent almost two years in his native country’s ferocious prison system, as a guest of President al-Sisi, locked up with two colleagues for being a pro-Muslim Brotherhood “terrorist”, fabricating news and endangering the “security” of the state. Continue reading

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Cockroaches: A Universal Pejorative in the Particular Armoury of a Sunni Extremist in Melbourne

A Melbourne teenager [name withheld] from a middle-class background had “expressed violent loathing of non-believers and likened Shia Muslims to cockroaches” in his Facebook and Surespot rantings. He had gone further and gathered the material for a pressure cooker bomb –activities which have seen him tried and sentenced to a seven-year jail term (see The Australian, 8 Dec 2016)

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There is dark paradox here:  a highly particular ideologue has deployed a universal pejorative. Continue reading

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The Muslims in Sri Lanka: Trends, Dangers, Failures

ameer_ali-140x150ACL Ameer Ali,  courtesy of Colombo Telegraph where the title is Paranoia & Paralysis: The Buddhist-Muslim Tragicomedy” …  Note that the highlighting emphasis below is that of the Edito , Thuppahi

The military victory led by an overwhelmingly Sinhala-Buddhist army over the tyrannous LTTE in 2009 has, among other things, injected in the minds of certain sections of the Buddhist community that Sri Lanka belongs only to the Sinhala Buddhists and others are permitted to live here only at the behest of the Buddhists. This twisted ideology which is now developing into an anti-Muslim, anti-Christian and anti-Tamil paranoia is totally contradictory not only to the noble teachings of the Enlightened Buddha but also and more significantly to the millennial historical tradition of ethnic and religious tolerance indelibly engraved in the long legacy of the island’s Buddhist monarchs. To deny this historical truth is to court intellectual dishonesty.

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Past in the Present: Deciphering the Cosmological Threads in Sri Lankan Politics

Michael Roberts,  being a re-print of a review of Roshan De Silva-Wijeyreratne’s book in Groundviews in February 2015 entitled “Review of ‘Nation, Constitutionalism and Buddhism in Sri Lanka’,” … including here  the comments in Groundviews from devoted critics of the reviewer Roberts.

This treatise encompasses a vast span of time and straddles both the pre-modern and modern periods of Sri Lanka’s history down to the present moment. It engages, deploys, transcends and weaves through a vast array of scholars: Berkwitz, Chakrabarty, Collins, Duncan, Greenwald, Kaviraj, Kemper, Obeyesekere, Rampton, Roberts, Smith and Tambiah among others, with Bruce Kapferer as the guiding inspiration. As such, it is an ambitious tour de force that seeks a synthesis. The book is heavy reading and not a task for those weak or impatient. They have to comprehend a battery of difficult concepts in noun and adjectival form: ontology, episteme, refraction, governmentality, hermeneutic, telos and cosmic sovereignty for instance.

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