Remembering 9/11

Standard

Last year New Verse News published “September” a poem I wrote about 9/11. You can read it here.

2014- the Year that Commemorates Global Catastrophes

Standard

2014 is a significant year for anniversaries of disasters. While all attention seems to be on the centenary of World War I this year is also significant as it the anniversary of several natural catastrophes that took place around the world. It’s the 30th anniversary of Bhopal Gas Disaster in India, the 20th anniversary of the Rwandan Genocide, and the 10th anniversary of the South Asian tsunami.

Several events to commemorate the anniversaries of the natural disasters are being held in Leeds, UK in November.

  • “Reframing Disaster” a conference connected to an AHRC-funded research project led by Dr Anthony Carrigan, entitled ‘Representing Postcolonial Disaster’ will be organised in November as part of a week-long series of activities designed to coincide directly with the anniversaries of the Bhopal and South Asian tsunami disasters.
  • It will include an exhibition by world-renowned Indian photographer Raghu Rai (the first photographer to document the Bhopal disaster), to be held at the Tetley Gallery (http://thetetley.org/).
  • Launch of the Tsunami anthology by Moving Worlds.

Those interested in participating in the “Reframing Disaster” or presenting papers go here. Note the last date to submit is September 7. You may query at the site. For details on the project Representing Post Colonial Disaster go here.

Deep Water Literary Journal

Standard

I tend to publish more poetry than fiction for whatever reason. This is one of the few instances when I published fiction. Check out my flash story “Night Visitor” in Issue 2, published this month. It’s a dark story, but then that’s what the Deep Water Literary Journal is about – exploring the dark side of life. To read the rest of the journal go here.

Animal Liberation Front.com

Standard

Mali, the poem written for the jailed Sri Lankan elephant and posted on my blog in 2012 is included in Animal Liberation Front.com. Let’s hope more people get behind the effort to save Mali, like they did for Sunder.  Go here for the poem or go here to check out the rest of the poems, stories and essays  and other facts relating to animal rights/abuse posted on Animal Liberation Front.com.

Mascara Literary Review

Standard

Two poems, “Late Afternoon” and “Games People Play” are included in Mascara Literary Review, Issue 15, May 2014.

The 2013 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards

Standard

My poem titled “The Shower”was selected as a finalist in the 2013 Anna Davidson Rosenberg Poetry Awards. For more details check Poetica Magazine here.

Spark

Standard

She is Spark’s tribute to  women from all walks of life this month. My short poem “Woman of the House” is also included here.

Spark – March 2014 Issue

Ballads – an anthology of new poetry

Standard
Ballads – an anthology of new poetry

“Alone One Evening” is my contribution to Ballads, an anthology of new poetry about music. Published by Dagda Publishing you can check it out at Createspace and Amazon.

Ballads is in aid of Scope, a UK based charity for mental health.

Short & Sweet launched

Standard

Can you tell a story in 25 words? How do you fit in a beginning, middle and an end, describe characters, themes, set the scene, add dialogue in just 25 words?

The answer – Short & Sweet, Sri Lanka’s first ever anthology of hint fiction.

Short & Sweet includes over 160 little pieces of fiction written by over 90 Sri Lankan writers from all walks of life including some well known names such as Yasmine Gooneratne, Shyam Selvadurai and Ameena Hussein. It is curated by Sanjana Hattotuwa.

Short & Sweet was launched last evening in Colombo.

Happy to have one of my short, short, short stories published here.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAFor more information and orders go to http://www.pererahussein.com

 

Spark the Magazine

Standard

Spark celebrates its fourth birthday this month with a potpourri of writing. “Celebrating Another Birthday” is my contribution.

Spark – January 2014 Fourth Anniversary Issue

Cyclamens and Swords Publishing

Standard

Two poems, “Reader on the Shelf” and “Evening” are included in the December 2013 issue. See page 1.

Channels

Standard

My poem titled “The Capital” is included in “Channels” Volume 19. Channels is an annual publication that features contemporary Sri Lankan Writing and is published by the English Writers’ Cooperative (EWC) Sri Lanka. It’s not available online and I’m posting the poem here.

The Capital

 I

Colombo clicks her heels

tonight as music throbs in hidden

spaces. Lights blink

as they guide the way along lush

avenues, winding, trees

bending in acknowledgement.

The breezes blow cool

and calm across waters cleared,

now winking as the lights reflections

spread out across the lakes, canals

and waterways free to flow

as they wish. Old world charm sprawls

while modernity rises

from the earth. Brick by brick

the future beckons. The city smiles

at the wonders ahead.

II

The avenue of independence

has lost her soul. Torn

down by the puppets of the people.

A debauched brain ordered the change.

The earth shudders as trees

crash to the ground,

the birds scatter, their nests

lost in the dust of development,

progress, the need to renew.

The dogs rounded up and sent off

to die. Boiled, gassed. That’s their fate.

There’s no place for the likes

of them in this city

brand spanking new. Not for the likes

of canine, avian; the crows

or strays. The beggars

they kill, their heads smashed with rocks

no better than dogs and left to rot

on pavements. The blood stains on

concrete blocks licked up by

scavengers. The city mourns

and wonders what lies ahead.

© 2013 Shirani Rajapakse

All My Poems in One Place except “The Stray”

Standard

As of yesterday all my published poems are now collected in one space for easy reference. While the links will continue to be available here on this blog the poems are now all at PoemHunter at just one click.

However one poem “The Stray” which I posted here on the blog on November 25, 2011 was taken off as it included “profanity” – seems they didn’t like the word “bitch.” But what do you call a female dog? Is it profanity to or what? You be the judge. Here’s the poem again.

The Stray

“Why Take her? She’s a

bitch” he

sounded

puzzled?

She stared

at him.

Astounded.

 

“Your mother’s

the same kind,”

she replied and

took the

homeless

bitch home.

 

About Place Journal

Standard

Read Hope, a poem published in Volume II Issue III on the theme of “The Future of Water,” November 2013.

The Linnet’s Wings

Standard

“On the Way to Over There” a micro story, is featured in the Autumn 2013 Issue. Flip through to page 32.

New Verse News

Standard

Read “September” live today at http://newversenews.blogspot.com/2013/09/september.html  Or read it below.

The New Verse News

 Wednesday, September 11, 2013

SEPTEMBER

by Shirani Rajapakse

Remember, you said, that day. People
falling from the sky like stars,
burnt out flares unable to cling on. Fire
.
in the sky metal crashing above. Remember
how it felt as you looked up at the
heavens, the noise deafened
.
and the dust from the stars crumbled
into your eyes. Horrorstruck, was this the end?
Remember the smell, flesh, iron roasting
.
cheap like a giant barbecue in the sky
while all around the grey dust of construction
falling like haze on an early morn.
.
You screamed but no one
heard amidst the noise of a world gone mad.
You cried in vain for what you
.
couldn’t hold, then forgot as
the years flashed by and they made plans anew
leaving you out of it. No use to no one
.
anymore.  Remember how you forgot
it all, buried in your life, the chores, the rush
and swirl of work, the demands
.
of modernity. Remember how she felt falling,
burning, crying. But do remember
how a madman rose in the sky
.
one day to steal the future leaving her
with tears and nothing else except a few
burnt out shreds. Remember.
.
.
Shirani Rajapakse
is a Sri Lankan poet and author. She won the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013. Her collection of short stories, Breaking News (Vijitha Yapa 2011) was shortlisted for the Gratiaen Award. Shirani’s work appears or is forthcoming in Linnet’s Wings, Channels, Spark, Berfrois, Poets Basement, Earthen Lamp Journal, Asian Cha, Dove Tales, Buddhist Poetry Review, About Place Journal, Skylight 47, The Smoking Poet, New Verse News, The Occupy Poetry Project and anthologies Poems for Freedom, Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012, Song of Sahel, Occupy Wall Street Poetry Anthology, World Healing World Peace and Every Child Is Entitled to Innocence.

Spark the Magazine

Standard

The June issue of Spark is out. It’s about the Facets of Nature. Check out my poem “Colombo.”

 

Spark – June 2013 Issue

Earthen Lamp Journal

Standard

The Return is featured in Vol I Issue II of Earthen Lamp Journal on the theme of conflict.

Sexuality

Poet’s Basement at CounterPunch

Standard

“Misunderstanding” is published in Poet’s Basement in CounterPunch, May 1, 2013.

Spark the Magazine

Standard

My poem “Wednesday Afternoon” is published in this month’s issue of Spark the Magazine. The theme explores “Life on the Street.”

Spark – May 2013 Issue

Poems for Freedom

Standard

In February 2013, Freedom Press an anarchist publisher in Whitechapel, East London was firebombed. Alex Clarke brought together a group of poets to Donate A Poem for Freedom to raise funds in support of Freedom Press. This is the result – an anthology of 45 poems by The Freedom Poets, a group of established an emerging poets. Released today Poems for Freedom is available on lulu.

Poems for Freedom

 

 

Pretzels & Bullfights: Lorca, The Gypsy Poet

Standard

shiranirajapakse:

Here’s an interesting post about an amazing poet – Lorca.

Originally posted on dVerse:

lorca

“I still consider myself a true novice, and I’m still learning my profession … One has to ascend one step at a time … [One shouldn't] demand of my nature, my spiritual and intellectual development, something that no author can give until much later … My work has just begun.”

CASIDAS (Translation by A. S. Kline)

VII
CASIDA DE LA ROSA

The rose was
not looking for the morning:
on its branch, almost immortal,
it looked for something other.

The rose was
not looking for wisdom, or for shadow:
the edge of flesh and dreaming,
it looked for something other.

The rose was
not looking for the rose, was
unmoving in the heavens:
it looked for something other.

Federico Garcia Lorca was one of the most important Spanish poets of the twentieth century. Born in 1898 in Fuente Vaqueros, was fortunate in his early years to be influenced by his…

View original 743 more words

Writing on Peace

Standard

Two of my poems, “Lost in Thought” and “The End of Summer” are included in Dove Tales, an International journal of the Arts “Occupied”  2013.

 

DoveTales, an International Journal of the Arts, "Occupied" 2013

Poetry Reading at Expographic Bookstore

Standard

I’m reading three of my published poems, “Questions Left Unanswered” (Winner of the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013), “The Violinist” (Voices Israel Poetry Anthology 2012) and “Hope” (Song of Sahel 2012)

Thank You All

Standard

A big THANK YOU to everyone that likes my posts/pages and add interesting comments.

I’m a lazy blogger as you may have realized…. although I don’t always comment I do appreciate and value the time you spend on my blog.

Celebrating Sri Lankan Women’s Writing in English

Standard

The English Writers’ Cooperative (EWC) of Sri Lanka in association with the International Centre for Ethnic Studies (ICES) organised an evening of poetry and prose by Sri Lankan women writers to celebrate International Women’s Day. Some of the work can be viewed here.

December 16, 2012 is one of the poems I read out. It was written in January this year and was in response to the horrific event that took place in Delhi, India in December that sent shock waves across the world.

December 16, 2012

They made a movie on a bus

riding around town, no one

.

heard the songs, or

saw the dances. The action stars

.

were new. Later, someone threw

in a name – Amanat. On and

.

on they moved around Delhi’s leafy

avenues, curtains drawn while the engine

.

kept time to the sounds inside. No cuts

no breaks the actors played their

.

part. The heroine protested – like all

heroines do. A new face she was dressed

.

for the part. An item girl they sang as

she danced. Munirka to Dwarka

.

it purred on its way. The wheels turned

round and round as the winter chill crept

.

through the leaves on the trees

and a single leaf fluttered to the ground,

.

torn apart. It fell across the road and no

one took note. Just another

.

leaf among so many in the city. Action

spent the bus came to a stop but

.

before they could shoot again the city rose

in wrath to demand a ban on the script’s

.

repeat. Candles lit, they waited it out, but

the wheels grind slowly round

.

and round. And while the old men argued

in vain inside colonial walls another

.

leaf fell silently to the ground.

.

© 2013  Shirani Rajapakse

Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest – Why the judges chose “Questions Left Unanswered” as the winner

Standard

Read the judges comments on why they chose “Questions Left Unanswered” as the winner of the Cha “Betrayal” Poetry Contest 2013. Read the poem and the description of the poem.

 

 

 

Standard

Originally posted on Alex Clarke :

ImageAt the beginning of February, Freedom Bookshop was firebombed. No one was hurt and not a single word was broken. In fact, the burning of words only strengthened links and empowered ideas. Funny how things turn out.

The lack of media attention was disturbing, but not surprising. Interesting waifs and strays heard via word of mouth. Activists blogged, tweeted, and txtd each other. And as a writer, I heard in a pub. I went to Facebook. I was livid. Then confused. I searched for reasons why this, above everything else at the moment, should bother me so profoundly.

I wondered whether my emotional self was translating oppressed whispers from my Irish blood. Or if my survivor self was looking for further sacrifices to appease her inner goddess of rage, or whether I just fancied causing trouble. My anger it seems was talking to someone quite small and gentle. Someone who likes red ribbons and hiding in bushes to…

View original 248 more words

Standard

Originally posted on Karen R. Sanderson's Blog:

Painful Process

Can’t write
I’m blankfamily march 3
Last typed
It stank

Sitting here
Fingers quiet
Cursor blinks
Creative diet

Tapping keyboard
Marking time
Can’t make
Deadline

Fingers stiff
Head full
Imagination
Set to lull

Beers swilled, shots tossed
Slouching now
Completely lost

Laptop
Slammed closed
Deadline missed
I’m hosed

Grab pen
Ink to page
No sense
Growing rage

Rip it up
Start fresh
Stanzas done
Still a mess

Note to self
Bury head
Give it up
Go to bed.

***
Odednews-files-2013-02-gold-nugget-660-jpg[1]

What is an ode?
Just a part of something else.

It’s unearthed in a mother lode,
And buried in a secret code.

Shaped inside a fashion model,
Sung amongst a mountain yodel.

***

Rollercoaster

Topsy-turvy
Stomach rumbles, a little erp
Should have waited on the buttery popcorn.

Topsy-turvy
Mouth opens, roiling burp
Wish I’d passed up that Tex-Mex chili dog, y’all.

Topsy-turvy
My clenching stomach is swilling greasy
Shoulda said…

View original 192 more words

Celebrating Sri Lankan Women’s Writing in English on International Women’s Day

Standard

The English Writers’ Cooperative of Sri Lanka

in association with

 International Centre for Ethnic Studies

cordially invites you to a Literary Evening

Celebrating Sri Lankan Women’s Writing in English

Thursday, March 7, 2013;  4.00 pm – 6.00 pm

at the

ICES Auditorium , 2, Kynsey Terrace ,Colombo 08

Moderator:

Kamini de Soysa

Programme

Introduction to the EWC  – Vijita Fernando

The Narrator in Creative Writing – Prashani Anjali Rambukwella

Readings: 15writers from their works

Participating Writers

Nanda P. Wanasundera             Summary         Emerged  Kandy Women  

Premini Amarasinghe                 Poem                 Realisation

Rukshani Weerasuriya               Poems               The Birth,  It is no sacrifice

Basil Fernando                              Poem                  A Woman for Other Women

PunyakanteWijenaike               Short Story       Reconciliation

Shireen Senadhira                     Poem                   Where Am I

Sakuntala Sachithanandan    Poems                  Daughter, Rizana, All is Burning

Chitra Premaratne-Stuiver    Poem                    Lechery Machismo for the Birds

Myrle Williams                            Short Story         Investigative Journalism

Jayanthi Kaththriarachchi    Poems                   Patachara Laments,. Gratitude

Faith   Ratnayake                        Poem                      Hands

Jayani  Senanayake                   Poems                   Loku Amma, Lender of Perfumes, The Other Woman,                                                                                           Advice on entering the Adult World, The Gorgon

 Mariam Riza                               Short Story          The Child that Died

 Shirani Rajapakse                    Poem                      December Sixteenth  20/12

 Vijita Fernando                          Short Story           The Prize

 

Standard

Originally posted on Karen R. Sanderson's Blog:

pamela wight snow

Snow Falls
Pamela S. Wight

Snow falls as silently as stardust on a bright clear night.
Stardust covers the houses and the trees and the ground and you –
if you’re out on a star-filled night.
The sound is a hush.
A hush as haunting and beautiful as a
mother’s lullaby to her newborn babe.
It’s the same sound of snow falling on oak and dale,
on lampposts and driveway, on forest and plain.
But the snowflakes are exposed by their very nature;
they are white and pristine on a background of pewter sky.
The snow shines like elegant moving polka dots
floating with the grace of a thousand ballerinas.
It’s the dance of nature’s beauty,
of the grace of life and death,
of love from the spirit of the universe.
Snow falls silently so we can hear
our own delight at nature’s spectacle.
Snow falls silently so we can…

View original 123 more words

Standard

Originally posted on Karen R. Sanderson's Blog:

Etymology

The word Valid comes from the Latin,
(As so many words do),
Originally meaning
Be Strong.

I want what I am feeling
To be valid,
But I do not want to
Be Strong.

Love
Is not so simple as
Validity.
It may be Old Germanic
(With a bit of Latin thrown
in too, just for good measure).
It means many things:
Desire,
Pleasure.
But it is also a bedfellow to the word
Leave.

I desire to pour myself
Into another human being.
To fill up all their dark spaces with
Light and understanding.
To feel pleasure in their company
And in the fact that they are near,
And always will be.

But I do not wish to be left alone,
And I do not wish to be strong.

***

I think of you easilyMairi 3

It is such a relief
Not to care anymore
Not to have that painful catch

View original 451 more words

Standard

shiranirajapakse:

My poems are on today.

Originally posted on Karen R. Sanderson's Blog:

Saturday Afternoon

Webster perches on the table
by my side and waits

ever patient. Spell check is
sometimes negligent. I think he

gets into moods. He takes his own
version, tries to impress.

Tells me I am wrong and he’s
right. He never

admits he’s wrong. Not even
once. How like a man. Spell check’s

a young punk with his
pants hanging down to his knees.

“Wassup?” he calls to
the air as he struts around in designer

shoes. Not much help there. So
old Webster hangs out by my side in

dignity. Ever patient. Old is gold they say,
while the newness is oblivious to it all.

***

Inside the Old Room

What would the wallsDSC01711
say if only they
could speak? Would they

tell you of the dreams
I dream when I am
not with you, or my thoughts

that I speak out
for no one to hear

View original 260 more words

Standard

shiranirajapakse:

Poetry Week continues with poems by Beverley A. Hoyles.

Originally posted on Karen R. Sanderson's Blog:

Beverley Hoyles CVR and spine

Across the bridge

beat of my heart
like rock n roll band
plummet to acute silent
moment in time
before the scream
a split second
multiple scenarios
the mind have crossed,
penalty weight heavy
tempo and meter
dark in my head
do I dare demand
runnaway
it’s been a long time coming
cannot go gently,
walking across
tears stream down
know first hand
the loud cries
of anguish
truth and substance
haunting deja vu beckon
you hear but not listening
my pleas unheard
secrets disguised
I pound my chest
agony of soul
of futility
devoured by darkness,
travel twisted veins
bleed vestige of hope
jagged rock of defeat
grounding grinding growls
earth bowls of rumble
forever lost,
pointless
it’s mad absurd
my wails of why
unnoticed
I yearn for freedom
how can you pretend
scum of sum prevailed
captive between
shiver and shook
the loss of light and focus
your…

View original 837 more words

Standard

shiranirajapakse:

It’s Poetry Week at the Word Shark. Starting today with Karen’s signature piece to her mother and Bocelli. Watch this space for more throughout the week. My poems appear on Wednesday.

Originally posted on Karen R. Sanderson's Blog:

img005I kick off Poetry Week with what I refer to as my signature piece, Mom and Bocelli. Today is Mom’s birthday, so I thought it fitting.

Mom was born Lois Jane Holmes in Lansford, PA, February 18, 1921. She loved her family and instilled “loving family” in all of us. She was a seamstress, a crossword and quote-acrostic puzzler, a meatloaf to beef bourguignon chef. She could jitterbug and waltz; she liked the classics and opera and big bands. She studied French and Welsh and could pronounce Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch (it’s a town in Wales and if you don’t believe me, here’s a YouTube pronunciation). And she loved Phillies baseball – she took notes and could discuss trades and stats with anybody.

I miss her awful.

***

Mom and Bocelli

Mom introduced me to Andrea Bocelli several years before she died,
And he comforted her throughout her final days.
He’s…

View original 245 more words

Reid Avenue

Standard

 

 

The trees are falling,

falling down along the avenue

 

flanked by the law, the arts

and the house of the intellectuals.

 

Helpless we watch the machines hum as a piece

of history is cut down to the ground.

 

Fallen sentinels of the past struck

down by the follies of the present that no

 

one dares oppose while

beauty is destroyed and the earth torn

 

apart. Green gives way to concrete.

Planted by an ancient they spread themselves far

 

and wide. Up above, the branches swelled

to cover the skies. A canopy

 

of green for the people to walk

through. Hugging the earth below them

 

stretching their roots to take hold of their home.

“Old roots,” the men sniffed in disdain, “old

 

roots decay and bring danger to

all,” they claimed. The machines marched in,

 

the people protested, banners in hand to no avail.

The birds added their songs of alarm

 

beseeching, beseeching for the trees to stay,

homeland in the skies tumbling to dust.

 

Their high-rises groaned in anguish as the machines cut

them down. Tears in the skies stopped,

 

stunned at the affront. Darkness

descended a

 

wasteland they will raise. Twinned with the desert

what more can you hope?

 

© 2012 Shirani Rajapakse

 

Photograph courtesy Stand Up for Colombo’s Trees on Facebook. For more information visit http://www.facebook.com/groups/116812511815589/?fref=ts

 

Mali

Standard

 Sad eyes stare at the world outside,

iron bars lock you in. Four thick walls

mark your space. This is all you

have and nothing more. Proud strong

woman from my homeland you live

imprisoned in a web of lies they

churn out for money from crowds

that come to ogle as you stare

out of your cell with lonely gaze.

Your feet hold scars of neglect yet

the pain in your heart

can never be seen by those that claim

you are well. There’s no one in that space

that can share your grief. You hide it inside

as you have all these years. Can you

still speak oh woman of my land?

Do you understand the words

your ancestors spoke, recall the stories they

whispered to you as a child? Do you yearn

to walk across the lands they owned,

feel the breeze on your skin

once more as it blows warm and free?

.

Remember your life long ago dear friend,

in that faraway place divided by earth

and sea. You roamed with your

family, played in the woods,

picked up trunkfuls of earth that you

smeared on yourself, bathed in rivers deep

and narrow as the fish swam below between

your feet. Remember the days, you walked

with the herd across vast tracts,

brown and green and azure up above.

They promised you happiness

the day you were sent as a gift yet all

you got was this prison lonely

and sad. Solitary confinement yet you

committed no crime. How long will this last?

Every day you die

a little and every day the lies grow strong.

 

© 2012 Shirani Rajapakse

Islam on the Rampage

Standard

It doesn’t take much to annoy a Muslim. Draw a cartoon figure and call it Mohammad and you’ll have the Muslim world up in arms, destroying property and killing a few hundred innocent people who have nothing to do with the cartoon.

Nearly seven years ago Muslims ran amok protesting vehemently when Kurt Westergaard, the Danish cartoonist published a series of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad in Jyllands-Posten. Over 250 were left dead and approximately 800 injured as a result of Muslim extremism.(Huff Post)

Muslims went berserk worldwide recently when Nakoula Basseley Nakoula, the California based film maker made a movie on the life of the Prophet Mohammad. This time too it was innocent people that got killed as Muslims the world over took to the streets and forced non Muslims to take note of the insult to Muslims.

Those same Muslims went on the rampage killing Buddhist monks in Bangladesh just a few days ago. Why? Because someone, no one is quite sure who it was, allegedly posted a photograph of the Prophet Mohammad on Facebook. Did they wait to verify the authenticity of the person before they turned violent? No. They didn’t merely target the person who is alleged to have posted the photograph. They targeted the entire community. It was as if the Muslims were waiting for the opportunity to destroy the Buddhists community and that one photograph gave them the much needed excuse to go ahead and kill in the name of Islam. Not so long ago, a young Christian girl was arrested in Pakistan for allegedly burning pages from the Koran.

Muslims are quick to shout out against the slightest insult they feel that is directed at Islam but they don’t seem to care about insulting other religions or hurting and destroying the life of non –Muslims. When the Taliban destroyed the Bamiyan Buddhas in Kandahar, Afghanistan, non-Muslims didn’t go on the rampage killing and destroying property of Muslims or dragging out the ambassadors of Islamic nations and killing them. The Bamiyan Buddhas were ancient statues depicting the form of the Buddha. Not only were they of value to Buddhists but they were also of historical and cultural value to the world.

Religions are supposed to, and claim to be tolerant of other people’s beliefs and view. Yet this doesn’t appear to be so in practice, or at least it doesn’t seem to hold true in Islam where it seems it’s alright to destroy and kill people of another religion.

Innocent Buddhist monks were killed, their temples burned to the ground and the homes of hundreds of Buddhist followers were destroyed in Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. A photograph posted on Facebook a few days later, of a monk sifting through the charred remains of what once must have been a temple in search of books that were saved from the fire brought back startling memories. It reminded me of another incident way back when in history. Nalanda University, in north India was one of the world’s oldest centers of learning and was once a thriving center of study. But it was razed to the ground by Islamic fundamentalists that didn’t appear to tolerate other religious views. It was said that the University burnt for days. Everything was destroyed, books, journals, and many students perished too. It was said that scholars came from far and wide to study there. Not anymore.

What Islamic fundamentalists burnt down that day in history was knowledge and the freedom of expression and discourse; the people they denied were the scholars and intellectuals, the cream of any society; they also denied future generations gaining from Nalanda’s vast storehouse of wisdom and knowledge. It was not only a gross injustice to freedom of expression but also a violation of the very basic rights of all peoples – the right to knowledge, education, freedom of expression and importantly the right to life and liberty.

Sadly it’s still the same.  Nothing seems to have changed. Except that the temples and houses they burnt recently in Bangladesh was no Nalanda, yet it represented a place of learning, of discourse among people living in that area. These were also their homes that gave them shelter. Now these innocent people are forced onto the streets.

How can a religion claim to be tolerant or peaceful when it burns down and destroys places of religious value? How can it be called peaceful when it destroys life? Islam does all this and still expects the world to feel sympathetic towards them when someone insults Islam. Isn’t this hypocrisy? Or is that allowed?

The Pakistani ambassador recently condemned the anti-Islam video made by Nakoula that defamed the Prophet. Speaking at the UN on behalf of the 56 Islamic states that make up the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) he spoke of the urgent need to protect against “acts of hate crimes, hate speech… and incitement to religious hatred.” His speech is clearly directed at what he believes to be insults towards Islam and not to other religious or peoples.

“Incidents like this clearly demonstrate the urgent need on the part of states to introduce adequate protection against acts of hate crimes, hate speech, discrimination, intimidation and coercion resulting from defamation and negative stereotyping of religions, and incitement to religious hatred, as well as denigration of venerated personalities,” Pakistan’s ambassador Zamir Akram said in a speech to the U.N. Human Rights Council. (Reuters)

The OIC hopes to introduce laws to make insults against religions an international crime. It has backed a resolution submitted by African states and calls on all countries to introduce a provision in domestic criminal law to prosecute those responsible for racism or xenophobia.  While the text deplores “the targeting of religious symbols and venerated persons” one wonders if this will be applied to crimes such as those that took place in Bangladesh recently, or even in Pakistan or any other country. Will this piece of legislation, if adopted by countries be applicable for all citizens living in those countries, including Muslims, or will it only target non –Muslims? If found to be guilty of inciting religious hatred or acts violence against believers of other religions or faiths, would Muslims agree to abide by the decision of local courts or would they try to get away from punishment by hiding behind Shariah? Only time will tell and hypocrisy rules.