Participants of a pluralist Sri Lanka movement, who named themselves “Different Yet Equal” now regularly holds peaceful vigils in Sri Lankan cities to stand against divisiveness and hatred. Their campaign is mostly online. Their real world activity comprise of participants holding white umbrellas and placards that proclaim that all Sri Lankans have same blood. The placards also condemn racism.
Different and equal at the same time
The “Different Yet Equal” movement is a response pushback against the easily noticeable stickers which are now being pasted on vehicles and trishaws all around the island nation. These stickers bear the “Sinha-Le” word. Sinha-Le translates into lion’s blood in the Sinhalese language. The word refers to a lion ancestor which a number of Buddhist Sri Lankans claim to descend from. The problem is not violence-it has not happened. The worrying thing is that a number of Muslims saw their houses being spray painted by this slogan. The Different Yet Equal protesters sang traditional songs todrown out slogans of the right wing response party.
The movement is subject to disruptions made by counter protesters. Among the second category are Buddhist monks who reportedly are members of Sinha Le movement. According to these monks, they are objecting to the pluralist movement’s appropriation of “Sinha Le” term. They believe that the word is exclusive for them. To prove their point, the counter group repeatedly chanted that Sri Lanka is a country of Sinhala Buddhists. They also carried a modified version of the flag of Sri Lanka. The flags do not have the stripes which denote the minorities of the country.
There is a fear among the majority Sinhala population that the minority population of the country is attempting to overrun the majority. When questioned about minorities, the counter protesters told that the country’s minorities can leave whenever they want and said that Sri Lanka is their country.
The occasion undeerscores the fact that a number of Sinhalese Buddists remain in guard even though they have a larger share of the population pie. The worrying factor is that the Sri Lankan media gives more coverage to this xebophobic news than the actual protests. It is seen that protesters and counter- protesters quickly engage in shouting matches. This helps the xenophobic group more than the rational people. Although there are a few hardliners, slogans spoken by them had been relatively silent until now.