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Country has failed to take up the baton of coexistence

By Imesh Ranasinghe

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“The Government, Media, and citizens have failed to take the baton of coexistence forward which some of the religious leaders and people had carried since the Easter Attacks,” said Attorney at Law Thanuka Nandasiri.

He made these remarks at a discussion held yesterday(3) by the Young Lawyers Association and Young Journalist Association about the behaviour of media behaviour after the Easter Attacks.

The discussion was held at the Centre for Society and Religion in Colombo.

He further said that although the Easter attack has brought pain to many people it has brought luck to some such as Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero who was pardoned and released.

Speaking at the event Deepanjalie Abeywardana from Verite Research made a presentation behaviour of the media before and after the Easter attacks.

She said that most of the media organisations have ignored important ethic in journalism of not mentioning the ethnicity in an news article unless it is directly linked to ethnicity.

Abeywardana showed many newspaper articles highlighting the Tamil or Muslim ethnicity when referring to a person who had committed a crime. She pointed out that ethnicity was not mentioned when a Sinhala person was suspected.

She also referred to the controversial Divaina story accusing a doctor of causing thousands of women to be sterile on 23 May saying the writer has failed to name a confirmed source to the news.

The terrorist attack on 21 April has now become a communal dispute between Sinhalese and Muslims, Nandasiri said

He also said that this is because of the live streaming of images of swords from mosques and police arrests media has influenced the public not to trust Muslims.

Representing the Muslim community in the discussion Lawyer Hijaz Hizbullah said social media algorithms are also a reason for the tension between communities.

“These algorithms only show the post, videos, etc which we like to see and hear. So their ideas get reinforced because of this”, he added

He said that it is clear now that most of the people are boycotting Muslims everywhere which has resulted in Muslims being corned by society.

It is clear that the Muslim community is indeed isolated by the rest through the resignation of the Muslim ministers, he added.

Just because a person is arrested it does not mean that he/she is guilty until it is proven before the courts but the society and media is criminalising the suspect just because he is arrested.,said Abeywardana