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Sri Lankan Muslims Fear Speaking Out

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Writing in The Diplomat, Tasnim Nazeer details Sri Lanka’s ongoing attempts to silence dissenting Muslim voices and highlights the arrest of Azath Salley, a prominent human rights advocate.

Nazeer notes that Salley has been falsely accused of having “links” to the Easter Sunday attack and vandalization of Buddhist statues in Mawanella. However, Salley had repeatedly provided the government with information on the extremist suspects a year prior to the attack and has highlighted that the Rajapaksa Defence Ministry had been funding the National Thawheed Jamath (NTJ) for years prior to the tragic Easter Sunday attacks.  

Salley was arrested on 17 March.

Nazeer further states that he was not the only person “to face punishment for speaking out”. A female Muslim human rights activist reported that she was reprimanded by Sri Lankan police for speaking out against the burqa ban. Those who similarly condemned islamophobic, such as forced cremations, were also threatened. The female human rights activist further stated that the police threatened to arrest her and that her family would be in danger if she continued criticizing government policies.

Muslims have received death threats and activists have been told that if they filed a case in the international court of law they would have to face “dire consequences.” Whilst some Muslim women have contemplated leaving Sri Lanka, they fear for the repercussions their families would face for whatever they chose to say about the government abroad.

Read Nazeer's full piece here.

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