Muslim Socio-culture and Majority-Minority Relations in recent Sri Lanka

  •  Ahmad Sunawari Long    
  •  Zaizul Ab. Rahman    
  •  Ahamed Sarjoon Razick    
  •  Kamarudin Salleh    


Sri Lanka is a nation in which multi-religious, multi-ethnic multi-language people live. Buddhists are the majority, while Muslims form the second minority group next to Tamils. Since historical times, the community relationship between Buddhists and Muslims has been prevailing. However, recently, a disturbing trend has been widely spreading among the Buddhists and Muslims. This situation has emerged during the aftermath of the anti-Muslim campaigns set by a number of Buddhist Nationalist Groups (BNGs), with their main goal being to propagate incorrect opinions about the Muslims to promote negative views about their socio-culture, and to distort the idea of a peaceful relationship between Buddhists and Muslims in the country. Accordingly, in the past several years, they have campaigned against halal certification on consumer goods, hijab and niqab of Muslim women, cattle slaughtering, places of worship and prayer services, among others. Moreover, they spread out the illusion that the above aspects of Muslim socio-culture are notable threats to the Buddhist people. So, these aspects are assumed by the Buddhists to be obstacles for maintaining a community relationship with Muslims. On the above background, analyzing the extent to which the above aspects influence the majority-Buddhists and minority-Muslims relationship, and determining as to whether an unfastened relationship will prevail between them, are the main objectives of this study. Based on the results, it is certainly affirmed that the above Muslim socio-cultural aspects, except slaughtering of cattle, have not pushed their influences to damage the Buddhist-Muslim relationship in Sri Lanka. In this respect, it was found that the aspect of ‘slaughtering of cattle’ is the only obstacle to the Buddhist-Muslim relationship. Furthermore, the recent campaigns have not changed the Buddhists’ mood in terms of maintaining a better relationship with Muslims. Moreover, the campaigns did not change their habits in keeping up the relationships with Muslims, without any break as how they behaved during the war (1984-2009) and pre-war periods. However, it is worthy to note that the BNGs have succeeded through their campaigns to create a negative Muslim stereotype among a small population of Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

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