Muslims killed in sectarian clashes in Sri Lanka

On 16 June at least three Muslims were killed and around 80 seriously injured in clashes following a rally by the BBS, the Buddhist Brigade, in Aluthgama on Sunday. Supporters of the BBS were reported to have marched into Muslim areas chanting anti-Muslim slogans. Witnesses say Muslim homes and a mosque were stoned.

President Mahinda Rajapaksa has announced an investigation into what has been described as Sri Lanka’s worst outbreak of sectarian violence in years. In recent months, Sinhalese Buddhist revivalist groups have been staging demonstrations, often led by monks, full of anti-Muslim rhetoric. BBC correspondents say tension has recently been high between the two sides, with Muslims calling on the government to protect them from hate attacks by Buddhists, and Buddhists accusing minorities of enjoying too much influence.

19 June update

A Buddhist Monk who has been a vocal critic of the Buddhist Brigade was found beaten and unconscious near Colombo. Wataraka Vijitha Thero has made statements supportive of Muslims and he has also complained to the police that he has received death threats.

The BBC reports that while there has been a lot of discussion of the violence on Sri Lankan social media, most mainstream media outlets on the island – with a few exceptions – have given little coverage and not sent journalists to report on the events. According to media reports, the BBS has denied being behind the assault on the monk.