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Four Waves of Muslim-Phobia in Sri Lanka: c.1880–2009

Ali, A. (2015) Four Waves of Muslim-Phobia in Sri Lanka: c.1880–2009. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 35 (4). pp. 486-502.

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The end of the civil war (1983-2009) in Sri Lanka has disappointingly failed to deliver any peace dividend. Instead, an era of triumphalism with a mood of schadenfreude entered the ruling quarters bringing in even more humiliation and uncertainties to ethnic minorities. The Muslim community has become the latest victim of this triumphalism. The ultra-nationalist Bodhu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force), a Buddhist organization led by an obstreperous firebrand monk Galagodaththe Gnanasara is on a nationwide rampage spreading anti-Muslim venom to cause material and psychological harm to the Muslim community. In the ultimate analysis this anti-Muslim rage on top of an anti-Tamil Buddhist nationalism is heading towards jeopardising the pluralist character of Sri Lanka’s democracy. Yet, the current anti-Muslim episode is only the latest of its kind. There had been three previous waves of such trend, the first during the British colonial regime, which culminated in the 1915 racial riots, the second during the so called socialist era of Prime Minister Srimavo Bandaranaike, climaxing in the 1976 Puttalam riots, and the third after the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom. In the current fourth wave the Alutgama riots of 2014 was yet the most destructive. In all four waves Muslims have been at the receiving end of the onslaught. Will they continue to remain so? What are their options?

Item Type: Journal Article
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Management and Governance
Publisher: Routledge
Copyright: © Institute of Muslim Minority Affairs
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