Daniel Halliday
Apr 22 · Last update 1 mo. ago.
What is the significance of the devastating terrorist attacks in Sri Lanka?
Sri Lanka has had a long bloody history, besieged by 26 years of civil war that ended in 2009. But it has since enjoyed a period of relative stability until the sudden wave of terror attacks carried out in Churches and hotels across the country on Easter Sunday. What was behind these shocking attacks, why are they so significant and what are the likely repercussions? Picture: St Sebastian’s Church bombed at 8:45 am 21st April 2019
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Declining religious freedoms in a growing climate of religious violence
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Curious attack on multiculturalism and the economy
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May spark renewed sectarian violence
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Demonstrates the government’s security failings
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Declining religious freedoms in a growing climate of religious violence

Much still remains a mystery of Sri Lanka’s Easter terror attacks, with some tentative links implicating a small Islamist group, thought to have links with ISIS. It has been proposed that the attacks could have been timed to prevent collective grieving in the 10th anniversary of the end of the Sri Lankan Civil War or that is was retaliation for the New Zealand Mosque attacks a month before. Whatever the case, considering the environment of growing religious tension acts like this could spark the re-growth of radical Buddhism in a country with a history of targeting Muslims and Christian’s minorities. In the short term a government ban on the burqa, combined with increased surveillance and a civilian monitoring systems have been mandated to address these issues, making it clear that religious freedom is going to suffer as a result of religious violence.

vox.com/2019/4/22/18510904/sri-lanka-bombing-terror-attack-civil-war ucanews.com/news/taking-a-stand-against-radical-buddhism-in-sri-lanka/73452

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Curious attack on multiculturalism and the economy

The clear targeting of hotels, foreigners, and tourists makes the target of the attacks clearer despite the vast majority of victims being Sri Lankans. Furthermore the targeting of some churches has led most to view this as a retaliatory attack following the 15t March 2019 Christchurch Shooting in New Zealand, however the significance of this kind of attack in a country with such a long history of terrorism will likely be very different and much more damaging economically. People continue to travel to destinations like Bali, India, France and the UK despite similar occurrences, but the effect this will have on the Sri Lankan tourist economy seems different. With many countries actively encouraging their nationals not to visit Sri Lanka following the attacks, these attack might cause longer lasting economic damage to Sri Lanka’s tourism industry.

news.yahoo.com/sri-lanka-soldiers-patrol-areas-hit-anti-muslim-092446004.html reuters.com/article/sri-lanka-markets/sri-lanka-stocks-rupee-fall-as-sectarian-violence-pushes-investors-away-idUSL4N22Q3E4?feedType=RSS&feedName=companyNews&rpc=56

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May spark renewed sectarian violence

The National Tawheed Jamath (NTJ) group, a Sri Lankan based Islamist group seem to be responsible for this attack and have links with Islamic State following a video release claiming responsibility for the attack, showing the NTJ bombers stating they were fighters of Islamic State. This seems to be something new to Sri Lanka, a state with a tragic history of ethno-nationalist terrorism with the Tamil-Tigers, but this is somewhat disconnected from previous inter-religious tensions which were often small scale and localised attacks, not large, planned and widespread attacks of this nature. Previous ethno-religious tensions were between Hindu minority of the north and the Buddhist majority government, but following this surprise attack tensions are beginning to spill out from Sri Lanka’s Far-Right Buddhist groups such as the “Buddhist Power Force” (or Bodu Bala Sena) as they targeted Muslim communities in retaliatory attacks.

edition.cnn.com/2019/04/23/asia/sri-lanka-investigation-ntj-intl/index.html news.yahoo.com/sri-lanka-soldiers-patrol-areas-hit-anti-muslim-092446004.html

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Demonstrates the government’s security failings

Such a large scale series of attacks in Sri Lanka outline the failing of the government in regard to the relaxation of security within the country, especially considering the fact that intelligence officials had received information about a possible attack but not informed the government. This seems especially significant considering the upcoming presidential elections, being just six months away, but also potentially worrying considering Sri Lanka's recent political history of the president ousting the prime minister and installing the controversial ex-president. Likewise considering the government’s worrying legacy of utilising very strong emergency powers and counter terrorism legislation to target not just criminal groups but political voices that question the state, this may lead to government infringements on civil liberties or destabilisation in the country.

theguardian.com/world/live/2019/apr/21/sri-lanka-explosions-dozens-killed-and-hundreds-injured-in-church-and-hotel-blasts latimes.com/world/la-fg-sri-lanka-explosions-20190420-story.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+latimes%2Fnews%2Fnationworld%2Fworld+%28L.A.+Times+-+World+News%29

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