Renewed interreligious violence in Sri Lanka

Since the carnage, the island bends under a lead screed. On Sunday, May 12 and Monday, May 13, rare violent inter-religious clashes shook several districts of north-central Sri Lanka, nearly a month after the wave of Daesh-targeted suicide bombings that targeted Easter, three churches and three luxury hotels, causing the death of 258 people. Led by Christian groups, this latest round of riots targeted mosques, shops and cars belonging to Muslims.

In Sri Lanka, "we are scared and we have no explanation"

It has taken a more dramatic turn after the lynching mortal, Monday, May 13, by the crowd of a trader from this community. Aged 45, the man – attacked "With sharp weapons in his carpentry workshop", According to a law enforcement official – succumbed to his injuries soon after arriving at the hospital in Puttalam district, North West Province.

" Bagging "

"Do not laugh anymore, one day you'll cry". It is this message, published by a merchant of the city of Chilaw on Facebook, which would have set fire to the powder. Because behind this post, Christians in the region would have read a warning about the imminence of a new attack perpetrated under an Islamist banner.

And elsewhere on the island, still haunted by the memory of its bloody civil war (from 1983 to 2009), other cities have also been the scene of violence targeting the Muslim community. In addition to vandalizing a mosque, a motorcycle gang attacked shops in Kuliyapitiya, where four people were arrested. Dozens of people then besieged their place of detention, and managed to release them.

In Sri Lanka, Muslims fear reprisals

In early May, there had already been clashes between Christians and Muslims in Negombo, north of Colombo, where one of the churches was targeted at Easter. Should we still fear an upsurge in these clashes in the future? "The tensions became very strong after the attacks: today, any incident risks being instrumentalized, and converted into something more violent", decrypts Nira Wickramasinghe, professor of modern South Asian studies at the University of Leiden, the Netherlands.


At the heart of this island of 21 million inhabitants, to the Buddhist Sinhalese rule (70%) is added the religious weight of minorities with Hindu Tamils ​​(13%), Muslims (10%) and Christians (7%). %). " There is something different today between these two communities. They had never clashed in riots before: until then religious tensions were concentrated between Buddhists and Christians, or Buddhists and Muslims, the specialist still notes, cautious while little reliable information circulates at this stage on the latest events.

In Sri Lanka, a persecuted Christian minority

It also confirms the resurgence in recent years of acts of violence against churches. "Much more than those of the Roman Catholic Church, the latter mainly target the buildings of new evangelical movements, in less developed regions," She advanced. According to the Christian Open Doors Charity Network, Sri Lanka is in 46th place – out of 50 countries – where Christians face "Extreme persecution".


Faced with the violence of the last interreligious conflagration, a curfew was imposed Monday, May 13 throughout Sri Lanka, and social networks were blocked. "We call on members of the Muslim community to be patient", said the main body bringing together the Islamic clergy, All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), denouncing "Increased suspicion of Muslims" since the attacks.

What is the heading defended today by the authorities to prevent further lurching? "So far, they have mainly taken security measures. President Maithripala Sirisena did not really express a clear position on the interreligious question, he focused on the fight against what he calls "Islamist terrorism" on the island ", concludes Nira Wickramasinghe, "The work of dialogue or prevention of radicalization is mostly provided by civil society. It is the intercommunity groups that call to reject a certain speech of guilt, and stigmatization of Muslims ".

. (tagsToTranslate) Sri Lanka (t) Religious Facts (t) Oceania (t) Interfaith (t) Violence (t) Regain (t) Lanka

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