Sri Lanka (MNN) – Anti-Muslim violence has surged in Sri Lanka in the three weeks following the Easter bombings. Mobs have targeted and attacked Muslims, Muslim homes, and Muslim businesses.
A mosque in the northwest of Sri Lanka was destroyed when a mob overran the building, breaking windows, doors, and burning Qurans. A Muslim man in the northwest recently died from stab wounds he sustained when his business was attacked.
In efforts to curb the sectarian violence, Sri Lanka has enforced a nationwide curfew. Select social media platforms have been blocked as the government attempts to wrangle the unrest.
Chief of Media Relations and Message Integration for Voice of the Martyrs Todd Nettleton says a mix of factors are contributing to the ongoing violence. One pertinent factor—religion.
A Religious Element
Per Index Mundi, Sri Lanka’s religious demographics, established in 2012, are Buddhist (official) 70.2 percent, Hindu 12.6 percent, Muslim 9.7 percent, Roman Catholic 6.1 percent, other Christian 1.3 percent, and other 0.05 percent.
“There is certainly religious tension even dating back to the civil war which were primarily pitted Hindus against Buddhist. Obviously, Muslims and Christians are outside of that, but they are also involved in sort of the religious milieu of the nation of Sri Lanka. So, there is definitely an aspect of religion that plays into it,” Nettleton says.
Sri Lanka is ranked #46 on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List*. The main source of Christian persecution stems from religious nationalism. To some degree, this religious nationalism likely impacts all religious minorities, like Muslims.
Pray for Sri Lanka
But as the sectarian violence continues, VOM has received messages from pastors in Sri Lanka asking for prayer.
“Pray for peace. Pray that the authorities will get a handle on the situation but more importantly pray that God will move and bring calm and bring peace into the situation where it seems like there’s a lot of anger. There’s a lot of animosity. There’s a backlash against Muslims after the bombings. And they are just asking us to pray that God will move and restore peace and restore order,” Nettleton says.
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*Open Doors USA’s World Watch List is a ranking of the top 50 countries where it is most difficult to be a Christian. Find the World Watch List here.
Header photo capture courtesy of Prayercast.