Sri Lankan Muslim women take ifthar at Independence Square, in Colombo. April 2023. Ifthar is the ritual evening meal that ends the sunrise to sunset fast that all Muslims are expected to undertake during the month of Ramazan. On Sunday, thousands of Muslims, and well-wishers from other faiths, gathered to eat together, in a show of unity that has come under some strain in recent years as chauvinistic Buddhist elements and a nationalist government conducted a hate campaign against the minority Muslim community that led to outbreaks of violence between 2014 and 2019.
• 70mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO5000 • R6 & RF24-70/2.8L •
Islam in the land of the Buddha. Under an arrogantly fluttering Buddhist flag, against the backdrop of the Independence Memorial Hall, thousands of Sri Lankan Muslims, and well-wishers from other faiths, gather for ifthar , the evening meal that ends the daily fast of Ramazan. As a muezzin chants the azaan of the Maghrib Prayer from the top of the hall’s steps, Muslims take a first bite of food or a sip of water. Palm Sunday, April 2023.
• 24mm • f/2.8 • 1/125 • ISO5000 • R6 & RF24-70/2.8L • Continue reading
“Je Suis Muslim” →
Muslim men remove their footwear and enter the Memon Hanafi Mosque on 3rd Cross Street, for Friday evening prayers. Colombo, January 2023.
• 35mm • f/4 • 1/10 • ISO400 • R6 & RF14-35/4L •
…But right or wrong, my country.* Ethnic minorities have been visibly present in the widespread protests calling for Sri Lankan President Gotab haya Rajapakse and his government to resign; none more so than the country’s Muslim community, typically distinguished by their conspicuous garb. Long an undeserved target of the chauvinistic politics that has plagued the country since independence in 1948, the Muslims have been especially marked for persecution in the decade following the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War in 2009. Announcing his run for the presidency days after the Easter Sunday bombings of 2019, Gotabhaya Rajapakse blamed the Muslims for the act of terrorism, accusing them of killing hundreds, and vowing to stamp out Islamic extremism and restore national security. Borne aloft on a wave of fear and nationalism, he won a landslide victory seven months later, but today stands charged with having engineered the bombings himself as a ploy to gain power. The country’s majority Sinhalese Buddhists, similarly making up the bulk of the protestors accusing the government of corruption and ineptitude, have welcomed minority participation; presenting, for now at least, a united voice for change. Colombo, April 2022.
• 50mm • f/4.5 • 1/1250 • ISO400 •
*An oft-used misquote of American Commodore Stephen Decatur’s “after victory over the Barbary pirates in 1816. “Our country! In her intercourse with foreign nations may she always be in the right; but our country, right or wrong!”
Kufi caps (most often worn by Muslim men at prayer, but also on some formal occasions) for sale outside the Jami Ul-Alfar Mosque, on 2nd Cross Street, in the Pettah. Colombo, Sri Lanka. April 2021.
5DMkIV & EF 16-35mm/2.8L courtesy Canon/Metropolitan.