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The Muslim factor in Sri Lankan ethnic crisis

Ali, A. (1997) The Muslim factor in Sri Lankan ethnic crisis. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 17 (2). pp. 253-267.

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Popular journalists and prejudiced pundits have portrayed the Sri Lankan ethnic problem solely as an issue between two communities—the majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils. To the outside world the Tamil problem appears to affect directly only those persons of the Dravidian ethnic stock who are either Hindus or Christians, speak Tamil as their mother tongue and live in the Northern and Eastern districts of the country. Because of this over simplification the interests and aspirations of others, who are also either Tamils or Tamil speaking, have been extremely marginalised if not totally ignored. The Indian Tamils who arrived in Sri Lanka as plantation labourers during the British Raj, are also of the Dravidian stock numbering nearly 900,000. A majority of these workers have now become permanent residents of the country under the Srima-Shastri Pact of 1964 and a subsequent parliamentary act in 1986. They live mostly in the central hills of Sri Lanka and are commonly known as the Up-country Tamils. Even though they are of the same ethnic stock, speak Tamil language and follow the Hindu religion, their socio-political affinity with the Tamils of the North and East has not been and is not very close. The fact that these Tamils, because of their population location and government's language and educational policy, are more fluent in Sinhalese than their counterparts in the North and East makes this separation even wider.

Publication Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation: School of Business
Publisher: Taylor and Francis
Copyright: Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs
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