After the Attacks: An Anti-Muslim Backlash

Thursday 21 December 2023

International Crisis Group. After Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings: Reducing Risks of Future Violence. International Crisis Group, 2019.

This source is from a report by the International Crisis Group, a non-profit, non-governmental organisation founded on preventing, mitigating, and resolving conflict. The report is titled ‘After Sri Lanka’s Easter Bombings: Reducing Risks of Future Violence’, and examines the details of the Easter Bombing attacks in 2019 in Sri Lanka, and its impacts, as well their recommendations for the Sri Lankan government. I wanted to include this source to examine the current state of Sri Lanka, 22 years after the war’s ‘official’ end. I think this, as well as Vindhya Buthpitiya’s piece ‘In Sri Lanka, a perpetrator state demands non-violence’, also included in the Visualising Peace Library, may help us think about what exactly ‘true peace’ after conflict looks like. The Easter Bombings were carried out by Islamic jihadist militant group NTJ, and later claimed by the terror group IS (Islamic State). Almost immediately after the bombings, Sri Lanka’s Muslims began to face backlash. The report outlines the forms of violence such as attacks and exploitation in the political sphere such as the heightening of divisive rhetoric to garner support. Other forms of violence outlined are mob assaults on refugees, Sinhala Buddhist militant groups’ attack on Muslim communities, and an increase in the arbitrary arrests and unfounded allegations against Muslims as well as a marked increase in othering and demonising rhetoric. The government also imposed dress restrictions on clothing banning all face coverings including the burqa and the niqab, as well as restricting the dress code for public sector employees and visitors which in effect banned the typical dress of Muslim and Tamil women. The aftermath of the Easter Bombings illustrates the interconnectedness of violence, discrimination, and political exploitation and the importance of working towards a culture of collective and empathy from a grassroots level.

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