My past studies of ethnic pogroms in Sri Lanka and India alerted me to the power of oral communication and emotional voices in sparking retaliation against an ethnic other in neighbourhood or region. In May-June 1915 oral tales of Muslim atrocity (mostly concocted one can assume) were carried along the railway tracks and thus converted a clash at Castle Street Kandy on the night of the 28th May night into a series of violent attacks on Muslims residing in such towns as Kegalle, Rambukkana, Colombo, Panadura on the 29th and 30th May and thence to Galle and Matara and their outlying road networks between the 1st and 4th June.
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I recently circulated a whole set of articles by some Muslim scholars (located in the Eastern Province and abroad) as well as a few others in Western universities — mostly written in the 2011-19 period. I am beginning to go through them slowly when I can carve out time for this set of tasks. A few have focused on the incidence of crime and communal violence in the post 2009 period.
What strikes me on reading these ventures is the limited degree of reading of past works that has been pursued and the appalling gaps in their background – lapses which also impinge on their comments on the death toll in the last stages of Eelam War IV.
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BBC News Item, 31 May 2019, entitled “The man who might have stopped Sri Lanka’s Easter bombings”
When bombs planted in churches and hotels killed more than 200 people in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, few had realised that the nation had a problem with Islamist militancy. One man who did, reports the BBC’s Secunder Kermani, was Mohammad Razak Taslim. Lying on a hospital bed, Mohammad Razak Taslim’s face contorts with pain. The left side of his body is completely paralysed, but he reaches out with his right hand, trying to clutch at his wife and brother-in-law who stand anxiously over him. His wife, Fatima, presses a handkerchief to his head. One side of his skull has caved in. It’s where he was shot in the head in March. Ever since, he’s been unable to speak, unable to walk.
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Jayadeva Uyangoda, in Sunday Observer, 26 May 2019, where the title runs thus “Fight Terrorism. Avoid Islamophobia”
Islamophobia is a term that gained currency in the 1980s in British English. It referred to prejudices against Islam and Muslim people that had begun to spread in the UK since the 1970s. As a cultural, intellectual and political phenomenon, Islamophobia also began to spread throughout the Western world after the 9/11 attacks in the US. The Christian Right in America has been the leading force that promoted Islamophobia as a new strand of political ideology in the world. It spread to the Hindu and Buddhist worlds as well amidst the rapid rise of ethnic identity politics and conflict.
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Kate Shellnutt, in Christianity Today, 3 May 2019, where the title is “Sri Lanka’s Christian Refugees Displaced by Retaliation Threats”
Pakistani asylum seekers in Negombo fled terrorist attacks in their home country, only to fear retribution for more deadly violence in their place of refuge.
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