Sri Lanka PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa has ordered the Muslim Religious Affairs Department to register all Madrasas in the country with the Department. The Sri Lanka Prime Minister, Mahinda Rajapaksa has also directed the officials of the Muslim Religious Affairs Department to re-evaluate the curricula of all Madrasas and to prepare an updated curriculum with the assistance of the Education Ministry.
Mahinda Rajapaksa gave this order during a progress review meeting of the Buddha Sasana, Religious Affairs and Cultural Affairs Ministry. With this, there are clear indications of the Rajapaksas, who are currently in power in Sri Lanka, checking religious indoctrination and avoiding the threats arising out of radicalisation.
By revamping the way in which Madrasas function, and also their curriculum, the Rajapaksa regime has made a far-reaching effort in coping with Islamist terror that had taken grip of the island country last year.
It is relevant to mention here that Sri Lanka was rocked by deadly terrorist attacks on April 21, last year which resulted in the death of more than 250 innocent citizens. The attacks in Sri Lanka that took place on Easter Sunday also witnessed the death of 30 foreigners.
There were clear markings of Islamism which fuelled the terror attacks. ISIS had claimed responsibility for the devastating terror attack, while local Jihadist outfit, National Thowheeth Jamaath (NTJ) was found to be instrumental in carrying out the bombings.
In fact, it was revealed that Moulvi Zahran Hashim, mastermind behind the attack on the Shangri La hotel in Sri Lanka, was inspired by controversial Islamic preacher, Zakir Naik’s speeches. As such the terror attack revealed how the threats of Islamic radicalism and terrorism loom large over Sri Lanka, threatening to vitiate the peaceful atmosphere which the island country was able to achieve after ending the 37-year old civil war.
Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the younger brother of Sri Lanka PM Mahinda Rajapaksa, was elected as the President of Sri Lanka in a landslide victory last year in the island country with the need to tackle Islamic terrorism being one of the core issues.
Nicknamed “Terminator” by his family, retired Lieutenant Colonel Gotabaya Rajapaksa was the top defence ministry official during the days of the Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, and is credited for effectively combating the Tamil Tigers and ending the 37-year long civil war.
Gotabaya’s credentials as a “war hero” and his nationalist approach seems to have led to his election as the President of the island country, in the specific context of the threat to internal security that the island country faced after the terror attacks on April 21, 2019.
Rajapaksas now seem to be doing exactly what Gotabaya was elected for- tackling Islamic terrorism and combating the menace of radicalisation. Towards the fag end of last year and shortly after his election, Gotabaya Rajapaksa had reached out to India, saying that the island country needed India’s help to counter the threat of ISIS and Islamic terrorism in Sri Lanka.
Gotabaya had then said, “The threat in Sri Lanka has now changed: unlike the LTTE which was a specific threat to Sri Lanka, IS [Islamic State] is a global threat posed by terrorists across the world. India and other countries have more information on this threat than us.”
Islamic radicalism in Sri Lanka is not as simple as it seems on the face of it. The terror attacks on Easter Sunday last year only brought the issue to the surface. A closer analysis of the issue would reveal that the issue traces back its origin to Sufi persecution in 2006 when houses of more than 100 Sufis were burnt down.
Sri Lanka, which was then completely engaged in tackling the LTTE, could not properly address the issue of growing Islamic extremism over the years.
Rajapaksas are hailed for their pro-nationalism approach within the island country. At a time when the country was facing a security crisis, the people of Sri Lanka saw Gotabaya Rajapaksa as the man who could get rid of Islamic extremism. Later on, his elder brother, Mahinda Rajapaksa also took oath as the Prime Minister. The people of Sri Lanka have pinned their hopes on the Rajapaksa brothers, who seem to have set in the process of checking radicalisation and extremism with the recent order on registering Madrasas and also revamping their curriculum.