Concerns grow over rising anti-Muslim incidents in Sri Lanka

Published 05.07.2019 00:07

Due to escalating anti-Muslim backlash following the Easter terror attacks, the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) has warned of an increase in anti-Muslim incidents in Sri Lanka.

"The OIC has been monitoring closely the situation of Muslims in Sri Lanka," the group of 57 member-states said in a statement released late Wednesday. The Jeddah-based group voiced its concerns over the "rise in incidents of intimidation, anti-Muslim rhetoric and hate speech promulgated by certain groups in the country." It also renewed its call on Sri Lanka authorities "to counter firmly the spread of rhetoric of hatred and intolerance, while ensuring the security and safety of the Muslim community in that country." The OIC also reiterated its "firm stance against terrorism and extremism in all its forms and manifestations," stressing that "terrorism has no religion and that no community should be held responsible for the actions of extremists."

After the deadly terrorist attack in Sri Lanka, killing over 250 people and injuring another 500, many Muslims braced for revenge attacks on mosques, Muslim-owned businesses and homes were looted and burned. A mob in Sri Lanka's Puttalam district killed a Muslim man, despite the imposition of a nationwide curfew amid increasingly frequent incidents of anti-Muslim violence.

Sri Lanka's Muslims make up about 9% of its population of 21 million people and mostly live in the east and center of the island. Mosques and Muslim-owned properties in the country have been widely attacked, especially by Sinhalese Buddhists. Some Buddhist nationalists have protested the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

Muslim communities across the world have suffered numerous hate attacks over the past years with many blaming the surge of anti-Muslim discourse in the media and supported by the politicians. The Christchurch, New Zealand mosque terror attacks became the latest example of growing far-right terrorism, a well-known global threat. Extremist politics, including extreme nationalist and white supremacist politics that appear to be at the core of the latest terror attack on Muslims in New Zealand, have been part of daily politics for a long time. The rise of global extremism, with the flourishing of the right in Europe and U.S. President Donald Trump and the alt-right in America, has emboldened potential terrorists.

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