Wahhabism on the rise in Sri Lanka?

A news report by India’s World Is One News (WION) claims that while Sinhalese intolerance is on the rise in Sri Lanka, as apparent in the recent communal violence, the root cause for the distrust of Muslims in Sri Lanka lies in the alarming spread of Wahhabism among one of the most tolerant and peaceful Muslim communities of the world.

It states that most of the international media especially Middle Eastern concerns are painting exaggerated pictures of bloodthirsty Sinhalese and victimized Muslims, but WION has been talking to Sri Lankan analysts of all religions and that what they are discovering paints a slightly different picture.

“It is true that Sinhalese intolerance is on the rise and this time it is not Sri Lanka’s Tamils who are the targets but the country’s nearly 2 million Muslims. There can be no justification for violence of course, but one must examine the root cause of the distrust of Muslims in Sri Lanka since 2009.”

“And that root cause lies in the alarming spread of Wahhabism among one of the most tolerant and peaceful Muslim communities of the world, that of Sri Lanka,” WION’s Padma Rao says.

She says that it is no secret anymore that close neighbor the Maldives is already in the throes of Saudi Arabia’s wealth and radical indoctrination, reportedly with the blessings of the Maldives’ dictatorial President, and that Saudi Arabia has reportedly trained and been dispatching English-speaking Wahhabi speakers around the world.

“And which region could be more attractive than South Asia, where there are already huge Muslim communities?”

She claims that some of the controversial speakers trained and dispatched by Saudi Arabia reportedly include Ismail Menk, Zakir Naik and Tariq Jameel. Menk has been banned in the United Kingdom and Singapore while Zakir Naik is in India’s most wanted list.

The report says that there are 749 Madrasas in Sri Lanka and one Islamic University. There are at least 10 major Muslim mosques in the island nation and dozens of smaller ones. It claims that “90% Sri Lanka’s mosques are in the clutches of Wahhabi preachers” and that 33 Sri Lankan Muslims are reported to have joined Islamic State.

“Analysts say Sinhalese intolerance is on the rise because of the changes noticed in traditionally tolerant Muslim neighbors,” the news report added.

It said that former President Mahinda Rajapaksa has added another startling element to the possible cause of the riots. In an article he contributed to in a Lankan daily, he points to “foreign elements” hell-bent on tearing Sri Lanka apart.

Speaking further, WION’s Padma Rao says:

“I wouldn’t go as far as to put it on the same scale as the LTTE-led form of terrorism among the Tamils. So let’s not make that comparison. But certainly, yes there is a rise and this is what analysts in Sri Lanka have been telling us, since 2009 when the war ended. And most people are concerned about the borders and that immigration control is not doing enough to prevent such known radicles from entering the country and slowly indoctrinating and poisoning the minds of what is essentially one of the most peaceful and tolerant Muslim communities in the world, Sri Lanka’s second largest minority.”

“Maldives is not that far away, we’ve seen that kind of penetration and infiltration in both directions before. That seems to be happening not only from the Maldives, but also from preachers who are landing at Colombo airport and who have been meeting and indoctrinating people. At the very simple village level people are seeing two pictures and putting together a story. They have also heard reports of the 33 Sri Lankan Muslims who joined the Islamic State.”

“And these are simple people in small villages who are afraid when they see visible signs of shriller preachers in mosques or more and more women covering themselves in hijab which is not typical to this region of the world. These are alien influences and whenever there is an alien influence people tend to get paranoid.”

“However, having said that I would like to emphasize that in absolutely no way does WION support any violence by any community against any community, be they minority or majority, but unfortunately we have to look at the root cause also and not just tarnish all Sinhalese or all Muslims with the same brush as certain sections of the international media have been doing over the last one week.”

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