Have You Forgotten, Prime Minister?

Pro-Democracy Rally, Colombo, Sri Lanka #16 by Son of the Morning Light on 500px.com

A Muslim resident of Colombo during the first pro-democracy rally at Liberty Circus, on 30th October 2018. It took more than a month of public protest in Colombo before the parliamentary coup launched by Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena’s sacking of his prime minister and cabinet was defeated. The constitutional crisis the country found itself in as the president’s antagonism towards PM Ranil Wickremesinghe bubbled over, was averted only by public support for the elected parliament and the constitution. Much of that support came from ethnic minorities like Sri Lanka’s Muslims. Following the Easter Bombing of 21st April 2019, however, the restored government of Prime Minister Wickremesinghe has largely failed to protect the Muslim community from violence and racism, allowing it to be unjustly blamed for the bombings carried out by the National Thowheed Jamaath (NTJ), an ISIS-affiliated extremist group. While the bombings largely targeted Christian churches, killing over 250 and wounding as many as 500, retaliation came from Buddhist mobs, in the form of weeks of arson and looting that the police and military failed to halt, often standing by as the violence raged unchecked. Almost two months after the Easter Bombings, the violence has died down, but Sri Lanka’s betrayed Muslim community lives under a sword, not knowing when it will fall, released by a new round of racist rhetoric by rightwing Buddhist clergy and politicians who Prime Minister Wickremesinghe’s government seems unwilling to reign in.

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