Religious Interface and Contestations Between Buddhists and Muslims in Sri Lanka



This study examines the claim made by researchers that there is a shift in conflictdynamics in post-war Sri Lanka from ethnic hostilities to largely religiouslyinspired hostilities (Wickramasinghe 2015, Herath and Rambukwella 2015, Klem2011) due to the rise of BBS and aggressive Muslim reform movements.

The study focuses on three religious sites with a multireligious heritage in centralSri Lanka which do not provide evidence for an unambiguously religious turn insocial conflict in Sri Lanka in the post-war era. The religious sites studied with ahistory of multireligious engagement between Buddhism and Islam have potentialfor promoting conflict as well as solidarity. The current situation in these three sitesdo not indicate a major rupture in terms of interreligious relations. The studyconcludes that while these sites have become entangled with externally drivencampaigns for religious purification that can certainly contribute to bothinterreligious and intrareligious tension, it is difficult to argue that what we havewitnessed is an irreversible change in the nature of social tension in Sri Lanka.


Kalinga Tudor Silva is Professor Emeritus at the University of Peradeniya andDirector, Research at the International Centre for Ethnic Studies, Kandy. AfrahNiwas is a Research Assistant attached to the Department of Arabic and IslamicStudies, University of Peradeniya and W.M.K.B. Wickramasinghe is a ProgrammeOfficer for a World Bank funded project on urban development in Kandy.


Religious Interface and Contestations (PDF)