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Anti-Muslim violence ‘underscores majoritarianism in Sri Lanka’ – The Hindu editorial

The recent outbreak of Sinhala mob violence against Muslims in southern Sri Lanka has “underscored the majoritarianism that has dominated the politics of the country” said The Hindu in its latest editorial on Friday.

Noting that the group that is largely blamed for instigating the violence, Bodu Bala Sena (or Buddhist Power Force) has been ceremoniously visited by both Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his brother the Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, the editorial said the moves were “signalling powerful patronage and giving it a stamp of legitimacy”.

The Hindu went on to say that amidst the “unsettled question of Tamil political aspirations”, Sri Lankan leaders were “driving the Sinhala nationalist desire for new enemies”.

Extracts from the editorial have been reproduced below. See the full piece here.

"Anti-Muslim violence in what were once idyllic tourist spots on the southern Sri Lankan coast has once again underscored the majoritarianism that has dominated the politics of the country since the end of the war against the LTTE in 2009."

"But for over two years, the Sri Lankan government had chosen to ignore the provocative activities of the BBS, doing nothing to rein it in despite a body of evidence that the group was involved in previous incidents targeting mainly the Muslim minority, and also Christians. Instead, both President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his powerful brother, Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, visited the office of the BBS on separate occasions, signalling powerful patronage and giving it a stamp of legitimacy."

"Having recently emerged from a long war and still mired in a host of issues relating to that conflict, including the unsettled question of Tamil political aspirations that first gave rise to it, Sri Lanka could have done far better with the opportunity it had to remake itself. Instead, the narrow political ambitions of its leaders to consolidate majority sentiment seem to be driving the Sinhala nationalist desire for new enemies. Already on watch by the world for his handling of post-war Tamil issues, President Rajapaksa is once again on the mat for being stand-offish while another minority was being targeted." 

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