MPO

demonstration12‘They sat in front of the buses.’

‘What?’

‘They stopped the traffic and sat in front of the buses!’

Hearing our manager, I knew something big was going down and heard ‘protests’ and ‘tigers’-something about a rebel group causing trouble.

Sri Lanka is one of those parts of the world that no one cares about until something serious happens.

The protests wouldn’t last that long, probably just a day or two. Did I ever get that wrong.

On my way home, our bus had to change routes in order to avoid the protestors.

I saw hundreds of individuals brandishing flags, posters and banners passing by Parliament Hill, crying out about the killing of innocent civilians and asking the Canadian government to do something about it. They were boldly blocking traffic as automobilists watched on in frustration.

As the momentum built, the protests lasted for a few weeks. The longer it went on, the more I was amazed by the determination of these people.

It wasn’t violent, but was impressive. Beating drums and holding posters up for hours at a time despite the bitter cold. I even saw some people going on hunger strikes.

One of them was eventually taken to the hospital because of breathing problems.

This all made me very intrigued to find out more about Sri Lanka. Through my research, I found out that this was a typical case of civilians caught in the crossfire between the government and a rebel group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Apparently, the Sri Lankan government had not been very nice to the Tamil ethnic group, comprised mostly of Hindus and Muslims.

Many Tamils feel that the LTTE is the only hope they have.

As it stands, the small Tamil population in Sri Lanka can be found crowded in a small 5 km square space where they suffer from sickness, injuries and malnutrition.

The Sri Lankan protesters were expressing outrage of their countrymen suffering. Despite the drum beats, passionate cries and poignant slogans, no politician addressed them, no one paid much attention and no one really seemed to care.

I couldn’t help but make a connection between the despair of the Sri Lankans and my own when I protested for Palestine on Parliament Hill only a few weeks prior.

Although Israel had been committing war crimes against the Palestinian people for years, the recent bombings in Gaza caught a lot of people’s attention.

Thousands marched in downtown Ottawa on two consecutive Saturdays in January to express our outrage at Israel’s actions.

Could we have done more?

As I drove by the Sri Lankan protesters and admired their determination, I couldn’t help but feel embarrassed by my community’s lack of engagement.

Most of us keep claiming that we hold Palestine in our hearts and prayers, but it just doesn’t seem to reflect in our actions the way the Sri Lankan’s compassion did.

As Muslims, do we not have a responsibility to stand against injustice, whether it is committed against our fellow Muslims or not? Do we not have a responsibility to do everything in our power to at least express our disagreement with our government’s actions or inactions?

Although it seems that the Sri Lankan protestors’ attempts were futile, they informed us about the political strife in their native country and showed us how protesting really ought to be done: with passion, compassion and determination.

Getting home late on a couple of shifts was well worth this lesson.

Comments

One Response to “June 17-”Demonstrating 101″ by Aicha Lasfar”

  1. Gaddafi salim on September 6th, 2011 8:52 am

    A.aleikum! Mashallah i read abt u n support of deen..specially talkin abt shekh hamza yusuf..i need 2 meet u n hamza!

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