The hardline Buddhists targeting Sri Lanka’s Muslims

Charles Haviland, BBC News, Mar.25

After a series of attacks on mosques, wild rumours about animal slaughter and an attempt to outlaw the halal system of classification, the BBC’s Charles Haviland investigates how Sri Lanka’s Muslim minority is being targeted by hardline Buddhists.

On a January morning a crowd of Buddhist monks storm a law college, yelling, chanting and even hitting one or two seemingly random people and pushing back the police. Furiously they shout that the exam results have been distorted to favour Muslims.

A few weeks later, apparently abetted by the police, monks attack a slaughterhouse in Dematagoda, Colombo, alleging that calves are being slaughtered inside (illegal in the capital) or the meat is improperly stored.

Both are incorrect, but the monks spread rumours that the facility is Muslim-owned as most of the truck drivers are Muslim.

Sri Lankan monks are now taking this so-called “direct action” every few days. It is part of a growing wave of anti-Muslim activities in Sri Lanka carried out by new hardline Buddhist groups – a trend that is making many people anxious, even fearful.

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