Answer to Asgiri..! Dr. Wickramabahu Karunarathna

(Lanka e News – 24.June.2019, 6.10PM)  In today’s world, television and movies made by giants in the industry dominate and have taken the centre stage. Images and stories are inevitably exaggerated, caricatured or fantasized far from what actually exists. In fact, a purposeful analysis of what is shown on television with regard to Islam and Muslims indicate a disproportionate exaggeration of war, attacks and violence identified with Islam. To drive the message home, such news or documentary subtly maligning Islam and/or Muslims are repeated several times. As a result, people end up perceiving the real world of Muslims in a distorted manner and viewing actuality through a ‘television telescope.’

Then there is a huge volume of activities creating large amount of hate that is spewed through the social media and that which comes out of the mouths of some of those donning the venerated yellow robe. Ably and sheepishly they move; and, sometime shamelessly, supported by some of the mainstream media. The public is beginning to understand fast, the manipulative moves and ulterior motives of these media outlets, which they detest. Many respectable journalists decry the lack of professionalism in these institutions. They call it an attack on ethical journalism. These are no doubt, those who have sold their souls to the devil.

One other main barrier for coexistence is misinformation, misinterpretation and distortion of facts by those motivated towards discrediting Islam and the Muslims. The innocent masses fall victim to these agendas and they take such misleading information as the truth. There are many misconceptions and blatant lies that are being promoted. Some of which are that in Islam women are being subjugated and treated like slaves, the wrong thought that Quran states, “kill the disbelievers wherever you find them” and so on. Such deliberate distortion and decontextualizing of facts in ignorance of the etymology of the Arabic terms etc. are definite obstacles towards fostering coexistence. All religions emerged in the beginning of civilization, contain irrational obligations. Accepting that reality we should move for co- existence of several nationalities, with equality, autonomy and right of self-determination. That is Happiness within diversity.

Coexistence is possible only if people are ready to accept nationality of the other as certain characteristics which conditions the minds of people in relation to perception. Every human being interacts with and interprets something based on understanding of the other being; his perception of that thing. Understanding is wrong unless the other is trained in thinking all humans are the same inspite of nationality. Thus understanding is not necessarily right unless on looker is brought up in a condition that could overcome influence by a multitude of factors both relevant and irrelevant, fact and fiction and, prejudice. Strong social perception is the media. Because of media which can assert strong influence on the minds of the people. This can be utilized with ulterior motives in many instances. There are theories on how the media affects the viewer’s world view and beliefs. They say affect is very clearly noticeable in the television channels and the print media. Through the television people are being trained not to think independently but to think the way the producer of the particular TV content wants the people to think. Often it is in the way the message is portrayed in the media.  Thus perceived social reality given, which is adjusted, and far from independent thinking and the truth.

According to the media theorists, the media generally presents an image of the world that does not reflect reality. Pro Muslim intellectuals say it is very much so when it comes to matters relating to the Muslims or the religion of Islam. A strong example of this is German fascist orator Goebbels, the anti-Semitic propaganda Henchman of Adolf Hitler. Goebbels used all the available media of his time books, films, photography, and the radio creating anti-Semitism to such an extent that led to extermination of six million Jews. The extent of the negative portrayal of the Jews through the media was such that the people’s thinking was adjusted into killing a Jew as being justified.

Inspite of rejection of then government, Lanka witnessed the Goebbels’ model in a small scale during the Aluthgama riots in June 2014. Unfortunately even under Yahapalanaya, Ampara riots on 26 February 2018 spreading to Digana by 10 March 2018 and the post 21/4 bombing riots on 12 May 2019 are black incidents. Sad to say these had all the hallmarks of the fascist carnage. Way back in 2014, those researching the riots in Aluthgama stated, “… it is important to note that the signs of organization and orchestration were evident. The transportation provided for looted goods, the weapons that the attackers had at 6.30 pm, their access to glass bottles, petrol, and long sticks and iron rods and lengths of bicycle chains, the pieces of metal canisters that we saw and photographed, dispel any possibility of a spontaneous conflagration”. Very clearly and most rightly, this identical pattern has been observed in all the other riots that followed. One more evidential fact, according to the some of the victims is that the attacks in all of these places took place under the watch of curfew and, in some instances, by cohorts with elements of the security apparatus. Yes, that is in the past. Lanka has thrown that in to past to go to democracy and unity!

By Dr. Wickramabahu Karunarathna

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