Christians in Sri Lanka Call for End to Anti-Muslim Violence

ICC Note: Christian leaders in Sri Lanka are calling for an end to anti-Muslim attacks after mobs of Buddhist radicals attacked several Muslim-owned businesses in central Sri Lanka. Following the spate of attacks, a state of emergency was introduced. Christians in Sri Lanka fear the reemergence of radical Buddhist nationalists who perpetrate acts of violence against all religious minority communities in Sri Lanka including Christians, Hindus, and Muslims.   

03/07/2018 Sri Lanka (Premier) – A Christian humanitarian charity has pleaded for an end to anti-Muslim attacks in Sri Lanka, calling the riots a “big blow to reconciliation” in the country.

Catholic Agency for Overseas Development (CAFOD) said it has extreme concerns after anti-Muslim rioting flared again in the hills of central Sri Lanka on Wednesday despite a state of emergency.

The government has ordered popular social media networks to be blocked to stop the violence from spreading. The police also ordered a curfew across much of the region for the third straight day, trying to calm the situation.

In the small town of Katugastota, Ikram Mohamed, a Muslim said Sinhalese Buddhist mobs burned down the textile shop he worked in. He and the owner had closed the shop on Wednesday morning when police announced the curfew. They returned to find it destroyed, and clothing and dressmaker dummies smoking in the ruins.

“There are many good Sinhalese people,” he said. “This is being done by a few jealous people.”

Muslims own many of the small businesses in Sri Lanka, a fact that many believe has helped make them targets as Buddhist-Muslim relations have worsened in recent years amid the rise of hard-line Buddhist groups, which accuse Muslims of forcing people to convert and destroying sacred Buddhist sites.

Area residents said mobs swept through at least two towns in the central hills, attacking two mosques and a string of Muslim-owned shops and buildings.

Sri Lanka has long been divided between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and minority Tamils who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

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