The Political Economy of Anti-Muslim Attacks in Sri Lanka

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The Muslim community is under attack. There have been increasing reports of attacks on mosques and shops owned by Muslims as part of a broader hate campaign against Muslims. The attack on the Dambulla Khairya Jummah mosque in April 2012 saw a decisive shift in the scale of these attacks. This act of violence was built on anti-Muslim rhetoric and a nascent campaign that had been simmering for years. More recently, the anti-Halal campaign and the boycott of No Limit stores has mobilised much larger sections of society. The mobilisations, together with chauvinistic public discourse, have alerted a few critical journalists, public intellectuals and activists to rightly draw parallels between these developments and the events that led up to the July 1983 pogrom against the Tamil community. Indeed, there needs to be stronger mobilisations and statements of condemnations to arrest this wave of anti-Muslim attacks. In this article, I ask a question that has not received as much attention: Why are these attacks on the Muslim community taking place now?

Published in Sunday Island, Colombo

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