Inside Story

Who is behind Sri Lanka’s religious violence?

Tensions are running high in the Democratic Socialist Republic after the worst acts of religious violence in decades.

The Sri Lankan government has imposed an indefinite curfew in a popular tourist area after a group of Buddhists killed three muslims and injured dozens of others. 

President Mahinda Rajapakse’s government is accused of doing little to prevent this latest violence. It is said to have encouraged the rise of the Bodu Bana Sena, the group at the heart of the latest crisis. Rajapakse has denied any link to the group.

The latest unrest came weeks after Muslim legislators asked President Rajapakse to protect their minority community from what they described as Buddhist extremist elements, blamed for a recent spate of attacks.

Muslims make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million population.

So, will further violence be averted? Or could Sri Lanka slip into another civil war?

Presenter: Hazem Sika.


Rauf Hakeem, Sri Lankan justice minister.

Alan Keenan, senior analyst at the International Crisis Group.

Dilanthe Withanage, founding executive committee member of Bodu Bala Sena.