Buddhist Anti-Muslim Racism & Violence in Sri Lanka


Original Chinese Language Article By: http://www.chengshiw.com

(Translated by Adrian Chan-Wyles PhD)

Translator’s Note: Racism is a political ideology that originates within the rightwing and is premised upon prejudice, discrimination, and hatred.  It operates from the false premise that expedient culture is the product of skin colour (and other physical characteristics), and that one ethnic group is superior to another.  Racism demand violence and feeds on the human suffering it causes.  The Buddha, who rejected the racism and politics of the Brahmanic religion and caste system, taught that all human suffering originates from the presence of greed, hatred and delusion in the human mind.  He also taught that through meditation, greed, hatred and delusion can be permanently uprooted and all human suffering prevented through the realisation of nirvana – or a state of mind (and body) that is nolonger moved by base desire, and which does not generate greed, hatred and desire.  The Buddhist monks described below are a disgrace to the Buddha, and to Buddhism.  They are ordinary and deluded beings pointlessly dressed in robes, whose minds are infected with the disease of racism, the hateful actions of which are tolerated by a prejudiced government of Sri Lanka. that has hopelessly lost its way in the world, and completely forgotten what the word ‘Dharma’ means.  I apologise to the Muslim communities of Sri Lanka.  ACW 15.3.2016

A News article dated the 18th of June, 2014, reports that recently religious and ethnic violence broke-out 60km south of Colombo in the town of Aluthgama, Sri Lanka, which saw large numbers of ordained Theravada Buddhist monks (as members of the rightwing nationalist group known as ‘Bodu Bala Sena’ or ‘Buddhist Power Force’) deliberately and violently attack Muslim neighbourhoods in the area.  Prior to running wild in a frenzy of uncontrolled violence that saw three Muslims killed and 52 injured, the Theravada monks had held a rightwing political rally calling for ordinary Sri Lankan people to attack their Muslim neighbours.  The Buddhist monks shouted anti-Muslim racist slogans as they smashed-up shops, cars, and set fire to property along the roadside.  Many terrified Muslim men, women and children hid in the local mosque during the height of the violence.  In an act of sustained racial violence against the local Muslim community, perpetuated by these ordained Theravada monks, not one Buddhist was hurt – but the police did arrest 12 monks.

A United Nations Observer called upon the Sri Lankan government to do more to stop this Buddhist violence aimed at minority Muslim communities.  The majority of people in Sri Lanka are Buddhist, and the UN asked for a greater effort to prevent hate-speech and racist attitudes from exploding into religious and ethnic violence in the country.  The Sri Lankan Minister of Justice – a Muslim from the southwest named Rauff Hakeem – stated that the national government was trying to balance the different ethnic groups that comprise the Sri Lankan nation, and prevent an intensification of inter-communal violence.  The Sri Lankan population is comprised of 70.2% Sinhalese Buddhists, 12.6% Hindus, 9.7% Muslims, and 7.4% Christians.  This mixture of very diverse ethnic and religious groups often creates flash-points of cultural tension.

Sinhalese racist nationalism has grown in recent years in the lay community, particularly within groups of idealistic young men, who then ordain for a time as Buddhist monks. Once a member of the ordained Sangha – far from transcending greed, hatred and delusion, these young men – encouraged by older Buddhist monks, give full expression to their racist views, spreading hatred to other monastics, as well as out into the community of lay-Buddhists.  When this faction of Buddhist monks are not directly committing the violence themselves, they often incite poorly educated lay Buddhists to carry-out the destruction on their behalf.  This faction of Buddhist nationalists believe that they are defending the Sri Lankan nation from foreign invasion, despite the fact that many of the Muslims they attack are from families that have been resident in Sri Lanka for generations.

Much of the ‘Buddhist Power Force’ racist rhetoric stems from the civil war that occurred for many years in the north of the country between Buddhists and Hindus led by the LTTE – although the government of Sri Lanka eventually won that war without meeting the Hindu demands for independence.  Relatively peaceful and isolated Muslim communities in the south of the country are deliberately and falsely equated with the formerly militarised Tamil Hindu communities in the north (that were often materially assisted by India).  The problem is that the Sri Lankan government is condemning the ethnic violence, but is not directly criticising the rightwing Buddhist group ‘Buddhist Power Force’.  The danger is that the racist nationalism that this Buddhist faction represents will eventually win open support within the Sri Lankan government and cause untold suffering as a result.


©opyright: Adrian Chan-Wyles (ShiDaDao) 2016.

Original Chinese Language Source Article:


斯里兰卡佛教僧侣袭击穆斯林教徒 3人死亡52人受伤










Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s