Sri Lanka Attacks May Lead To Further Violence Against Muslims, Says Crisis Analyst

22 April 2019, 20:33 | Updated: 22 April 2019, 21:07

A Senior Analyst for the International Crisis Group told LBC that anti-Muslim sentiment in the country could spill over into further violence.

At least 290 people were killed in a series of explosions targeting churches and hotels, including eight British nationals.

Alan Keenan is a Sri Lanka Senior Analyst with the International Crisis Group and said there's "a lot of anger" in the country and "a lot of confusion and fear".

Speaking to LBC presenter Eddie Mair, he said the attacks may also feed into anti-Muslim sentiment that has been building in Sri Lanka recently.

Mr Keenan said: "This sentiment has been developing over the last five years, cultivated by radical militant groups of Buddhist including some monks.

"That has led already to major rioting last year and rioting in 2014, where Muslim shops, homes and mosques were burned out and a few people died in each incident.

"This will be seen as evidence that the fears and warnings of Muslim extremism, that these groups have been saying which previously had no evidence to back them up, are in fact true.

"That's a very dangerous development and I'm afraid that if strong action isn't taken and the right messages aren't sent by government leaders and religious leaders of all groups, there's a real possibility of further violence."

Eddie Mair in the LBC studio
Eddie Mair in the LBC studio. Picture: LBC

Eddie asked Mr Keenan about how the attacks have affected the wider christian community in Sri Lanka

Mr Keenan said: "It leads them scared and no doubt angry.

"Previously, when Christian churches have been attacked, which they have been regularly in fact, it has been by militant Buddhists.

"So Christians now no doubt feel under assault from multiple parties.

"One of the striking things of the past few years has been solidarity between evangelicals Christians in Sri Lanka and Muslims, precisely because both have been targeted by violent attacks in the name of defending Buddhism.

"What these attacks will do to that relationship is also a big question."