Category Archives: religious nationalism

Prevent International Conventions creeping in as Law

Sriyan de Silva, Island, 17 October 2017, where the title is “Sri Lanka, International conventions and debasement of our legislative process”

Arising from Sanja de Silva Jayatilleka’s useful article, titled Government has Accepted the ICJ’s Jurisdiction over Sri Lanka [The Island, 18 September 2017], where she has stated that such acceptance is a consequence of the government’s ratification of the Convention on Enforced Disappearances, it is necessary to examine when/where Sri Lanka is legally bound by the International Conventions it has ratified. [Presumably she means the International Criminal Court and not the International Court of Justice].

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When Terrorism assailed Cricket at Lahore, 3 March 2009: A Cumulus Cloud of Questions

Michael Roberts, courtesy of Colombo Telegraph, where the title is different

A distant image of some assailants  

99793-H-Sun cover large

  a dead body is removed subsequently –Pic from AFP

A few years back I studied the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team when they were on their way to the Gaddafi Stadium at Lahore during the course of their Test Match vs Pakistan in 2009. This analysis is available as “Cricket under Siege:  The Lahore Attack, 3 March 2009,” in my book Incursions & Excursions in and around Sri Lanka Cricket (Colombo, Vijitha Yapa Publications, 2011).. I did not interview Brendon Kuruppu, the SL Team Manager, till after that work was presented. Since he presented a lucid account of his experiences, that essay lacks some of his insights. Continue reading

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Reflections on the Violent Buddhist Responses to Islam in Lanka and Burma

Stephen Labrooy

Ravi Velloor’s  article in THUPPAHI drew a private comment from Stephen Labrooy in Sri Lanka which is food for thought in itself, but carries particular value because it comes from Sri Lankan Burgher of some seniority[1] who has travelled abroad and presently serves as President of the Dutch Burgher Union. I have queries on several points and raised just two hurriedly (see below); but the “memorandum” has useful ethnographic information, while running several inter-related arguments. Hence its airing here.

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Filed under British colonialism, Buddhism, communal relations, disparagement, economic processes, historical interpretation, human rights, life stories, Muslims in Lanka, politIcal discourse, power politics, religious nationalism, riots and pogroms, security, sri lankan society, terrorism, the imaginary and the real, trauma, unusual people, vengeance, world events & processes, zealotry

Buddhist Monks on Violent Paths. How Come? An Essay in Mid-2013

Alan Strathern, in BBC News,  on 2 May 2013, ….  repeat 2013, with the title being  “Why are Buddhist monks attacking Muslims?”

Of all the moral precepts instilled in Buddhist monks the promise not to kill comes first, and the principle of non-violence is arguably more central to Buddhism than any other major religion. So why have monks been using hate speech against Muslims and joining mobs that have left dozens dead?

At the annual Ananda Harvest Festival in Bagan, Myanmar, thousands of monks from all over Myanmar came to receive alms. While walking around the vast temple grounds, I chanced upon this boy monk who was playing with his toy gun. Even though it was only a toy gun, I found this image a disturbing juxtaposition of the peace that Buddhism embodies and the violence that guns symbolise.

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Steven Kemper on Anagarika Dharmapala: A New Study

Steven Kemper: Rescued from the Nation: Anagarika Dharmapala and the Buddhist World, University of Chicago Press,  2015

Anagarika Dharmapala is one of the most galvanizing figures in Sri Lanka’s recent turbulent history. He is widely regarded as the nationalist hero who saved the Sinhala people from cultural collapse and whose “protestant” reformation of Buddhism drove monks toward increased political involvement and ethnic confrontation. Yet as tied to Sri Lankan nationalism as Dharmapala is in popular memory, he spent the vast majority of his life abroad, engaging other concerns. In Rescued from the Nation, Steven Kemper reevaluates this important figure in the light of an unprecedented number of his writings, ones that paint a picture not of a nationalist zealot but of a spiritual seeker earnest in his pursuit of salvation.

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Anguish!! Reading Mike

 Image from http://sangam.org/sachis-files-chapter-4-2/ by Sachi Sri Kantha, 16 October 2015,

When the essay “Anguish as Empowerment …A Path to Retribution” was presented on the 22nd March 2017, I received several private email comments from good friends. My recent little essay on Ëxtremist Cricket Fans” has led me to look over this set of remarks and a tirade of sorts directed at me by an embittered Tamil nationalist named Kathiravan espousing the cause of Eelam in February 2011 in the Blog Comments within Colombo Telegraph (and rehashed by me in Thuppahi = see ……………………….……………. https://thuppahi.wordpress.com/2012/02/27/an-angry-tamil-kathiravan-confronts-roberts/).

The unsolicited readings are too valuable to lie in the cupboards and I am waxing bold by presenting them to the world without the permission of my friends within the present reflections on EXTREMISM. Continue reading

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Threads of Moral Puritanism in Sinhala Nationalist Practice

 Michael Roberts ** … a reprint of an article published in South Asia, Vol. XIX, Special Issue, (1996), pp. 205-220. with the title “Teaching Lessons, Re mo ving Evil: Strands of Moral Puritanism in Sinhala Nationalist Practice

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Expressions of Sinhala nationalism since the mid-nineteenth century, as one might expect, have been varied and multi-faceted. In this essay, I highlight a thread of moral puritanism which has not only been powerfully inscribed into the pogroms espoused in the period 1880s to 1910s, but also within the altered context of the 1950s-1980s.

 Borella Junction, Colombo, 24.25 July 1983

   A Hindu mob waiting to defend their own from Muslims in Bhagalpur –before becoming a marauding band seeking retribution — in a pattern also seen in 1915 in Sri Lanka during the anti-Moor pogrom

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