President Maithripala Sirisena on May 23 issued a directive to Minister of Law and Order, Sagala Ratnayake to probe into recent incidents related to racism and attacks on places of religious worship in the country.
The directive comes after several incidents of attacks on Muslim religious places and business entities were reported over the past several days.
There were reports of mosques attacked in Panadura and Wennappuwa which triggered a sense of fear among the Muslims.
Ambassador of the United States of America to Sri Lanka Atul Keshap in his Twitter handle condemned the attacks on religious places and called for a probe on such incidents.
“Any attack on a house of worship is reprehensible; this is the third in a week. I hope the authorities arrest and try the perpetrators soon,” he had said.
Post 2015 Presidential Election, very few incidents of inter-religious tensions were reported in the country.
We will not be dwelling on who is responsible for these incidents and whether or not actions have been taken.
The issue here is how the minorities should react to such situations.
The minorities have been at the receiving end on many occasions in the past, most notably the war.
During the war, the Tamils in the North and the East faced the brunt of it. Many Tamils were killed and injured during the 30 years of bloodshed.
Likewise, many Muslims too were killed and injured in the East. In fact, the voice of the Mulims was almost unheard during this period, and all the focus was upon the issues of the Northern Tamils.
Muslims in the North were forcibly evicted from the North in 1990, which created a gap between both minority communities. A gap that still needs to be filled.
Although the political parties that represent both communities have pledged to work together on many aspects of reconciliation, we are yet to see some tangible results.
Each community must show its concern when the other is going through trouble, and not turn a blind eye.
In a way, that is the problem which has created mistrust between both communities.
There is a vacuum in the reconciliation process due to the Tamil-Muslim factor not being addressed.
It is not the politicians that need to come to the negotiating table, but the people.
Earlier, Chairman of the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) Abdul Majeed alluded to the importance of reconciliation at the grassroot level.
Muslims today have to deal with two things, and are kind of squeezed from all sides. One is the recent spate of violence and attacks on their religious places and businesses, while the other is the refusal of Tamil politicians in the East to agree to their demands and aspirations.
The Sinhalese and the Tamil politicians have the responsibility to incorporate their views and demands if the country is to resolve these tensions.
These minor tensions could snowball into fully fledged riots if not addressed in its early stages.
It is a tough process which needs to be started at some point. There are signs of reconciliation, but still inadequate.