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‘Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists have waged campaign of violence’ - ICG

File photograph: Anti-Muslim violence erupted once more in Sri Lanka earlier this year.

Sri Lanka risks alienating Muslims with its response to the Easter Sunday attacks, warned the International Crisis Group (ICG), calling on Colombo to “lower communal tensions” on the island.

“Harsh and unfair treatment of law-abiding Muslim citizens risks alienating large portions of the community and could raise sectarian tensions,” said an ICG report entitled After Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings: Reducing Risks of Future Violence.

“Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists have waged a campaign of violence and hate while a weak and divided political leadership has either stood idly by or, worse, egged on the abuse,” it added. 

“Nationalist politicians and religious leaders from the majority Sinhalese Buddhist ethno-religious group have used the Easter attacks and the fears they provoked to reinforce a narrative blaming Muslims collectively for growing “extreme”. The government has allowed militant Sinhalese groups purportedly defending Buddhism to ramp up their post-war anti-Muslim campaign of economic boycotts, media pressure, and organised violence with impunity.”

It went on to note that Sri Lanka is “taking steps down a dangerous path”. 

“It is past time to reverse course, lower communal tensions and focus on the critical and unfinished work of knitting together a fractured country.”

See the full text of the report here.