Buddhist groups accuse Muslims of forced conversions, desecrating holy sites
Sri Lanka’s government imposed a nationwide emergency on Tuesday after days of clashes between Buddhists and Muslims across the country. Under the state of emergency, authorities can detain suspects indefinitely and deploy the military to clamp down on the riots.
The clashes intensified over the weekend “following the death of a Sinhalese [Buddhist] youth who had allegedly been assaulted by a Muslim mob,” Reuters news agency reported. The religious tensions began last year after Buddhist groups accused Muslims of forcibly converting locals to Islam and desecrating their ancient holy sites. Buddhists make up about 75 percent of the population, while the Muslims count for around 10 percent.
This is the first time the South Asian island nation has declared a nationwide emergency since 2009 when decades of civil war between the Sinhala Buddhists and the minority Hindu Tamils came to an end.
Sri Lankan daily Sunday Leader reported the imposition of state of emergency on Tuesday:
President Maithripala Sirisena promulgated a state of emergency to redress the situation in the country, the President’s Media Division said.
The President’s Media Division said that the Police and Armed Forces have been suitably empowered to deal with criminal elements in society and urgently restore normalcy.
“President promulgated a state emergency a short while ago to redress the unsatisfactory security situation prevailing in certain parts of the country. The Police and Armed Forces have been suitably empowered to deal with criminal elements in the society & urgently restore normalcy,” the President’s Media Division said.
The conflict in the remote Asian Island must not be dismissed as a localized unrest, but seen in the context of conflicts emerging globally in the backdrop of militant Islamist resurgence.
The unrest in Sri Lanka becomes the second Buddhist-Muslim conflict to emerge in the span of less than two years. In 2016, conflict between Buddhists and Muslims in Myanmar and the subsequent military action by the country’s army left thousands dead and led to the displacement of around 90,000 Rohingya Muslims.
The Buddhist minority in the neighboring Muslim-majority Bangladesh have been facing the wrath of jihadis of decades. In 2012, Muslim mobs in Bangladesh destroyed 12 Buddhist temples and monasteries. Many Buddhists have fled to Myanmar or India.
Since the early 1990s, Islamist terror groups have sprung up in South Asia and the Far-East with the declared purpose of carrying out jihad against the non-Muslims. The Islamist terror campaign in India has claimed ten of thousands of Indians in recent decades. Since 2014, Islamic State has extended its reach in Asia, fueling local jihads in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Singapore.
[Cover image via YouTube]
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