Easter attacks increased hostility to Muslims in Sri Lanka

Hostility toward Muslims has increased in Sri Lanka after the Easter bomb attacks, Amnesty International said in a new report urging authorities to break the alarming trend and hold perpetrators accountable.

Sri Lanka's government must bring an end to consistent discrimination, harassment and violence against the Muslim community and eliminate state policies that explicitly target the minority group, the global rights watchdog said.

The report documents the rise of anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka since 2013 laced with an upsurge in Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism, which saw discrimination against Muslims constantly spiral, from a series of mob attacks committed with impunity to the government’s discriminatory policies including forced cremation of Muslim Covid-19 victims.

The current proposals to ban both the niqab (face veil) and madrasas (religious schools) are the latest cases of the state’s discriminatory policies against the Muslim community, it noted.

“While anti-Muslim sentiment in Sri Lanka is nothing new, the situation has regressed sharply in recent years. Incidents of violence against Muslims, committed with the tacit approval of the authorities, have occurred with alarming frequency. This has been accompanied by the adoption by the current government of rhetoric and policies that have been openly hostile to Muslims,” said Kyle Ward, Amnesty International's deputy secretary-general.