Stand United: Sri Lanka must not fall into the terrorists’ trap and allow communal disharmony

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  • Stand United: Sri Lanka must not fall into the terrorists' trap and allow communal disharmony

Stand United: Sri Lanka must not fall into the terrorists’ trap and allow communal disharmony

In signs that the Sri Lankan terror bombings  have put a strain on social relations in that country, several Pakistani refugees were violently attacked by locals in Negombo.  At least 800 men, women and children, all asylum seekers, were asked to get out of their temporary homes by a mob armed with iron bars.  The refugees belonged to the Ahmadiya sect and fled Pakistan due to the persecution by the Sunni majority there.  The intimidation and violence they facing from  Sri Lanka locals now is clearly  because the latter suspect them of having terror  links due  their Pakistan connection.

But this is precisely what the terrorists who carried out the serial bombings want. That churches were targeted in the bombings was not a coincidence.  The terrorists wanted to stoke communal tensions and exploit Sri Lanka’s fragile ethno-religious matrix.  This is further confirmed by the fact that the Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for the blasts.  IS is known to exploit latent social grievances, exacerbate them and then benefit from the resulting chaos.  This was the group’s modus operandi in Iraq and Syria where it took advantage of Shia-Sunni communal fault lines.

Sri Lanka has a history of religio-ethnic tensions with the separatist Tamil tigers (who were largely Hindu) leading a decades-long insurgency in that country.  This in turn saw a consolidation of radical Buddhist Sinhala groups.  And although the Tamil Tigers were defeated in 2009, subterranean social fissures continue to exist.  Hence, the perpetrators of the bombings may have been trying to spark  new round of social conflict in Sri Lanka.  Today, Ahmadiyyas are being targeted.  Tomorrow, it can be Sri Lanka Muslim.

 Sri Lanka society and government must not fall for this trap.  The island nation needs communal harmony now more than ever  If Sri Lankans give in to fears and suspicion, then the terrorists will win.  It is time to stand united and strong

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