A Plea For Peace and Unity in Sri Lanka

Boycotting Muslim businesses and shops causes more economic damage to the country

by Asela Atukorala

Sri Lanka sadly witnessed devastating terrorist attacks on Easter Sunday this year in hotels & churches which killed over 250 people and injured over 500 individuals. As the country was recovering from this tragedy, two weeks later racist individuals in response to the Easter Sunday attacks terrorised Muslim communities in many towns across Western Sri Lanka which resulted in homes, businesses & mosques damaged and one person murdered. The fact that the terrorists behind the Easter Sunday attacks are Muslim has led to an emergence of racism against the Muslim community which I believe is bad for the country. In this article, I’m making a plea for peace and unity in Sri Lanka which is needed right now.

It is common for individuals to boycott Muslim owned shops and businesses at the moment. I do not agree with this action for a number of reasons. Firstly, it is falsely associating the actions of the terrorists with the whole Muslim community. It is probably a minority of Muslims who support the actions of the terrorists. This can alienate Sri Lankan Muslims from Sri Lankan society and result in some Muslims becoming radicalised, thus being bad for national security. Secondly, it is being disrespectful to both fellow Sri Lankans and Muslims. Thirdly, it is doing damage to the economy as the employers and employees of those companies go through financial difficulty as a result of the boycotts. In many cases, it is not only Muslims who are employed by these businesses. The families of the employers & employees suffer as a result of this.

I think that boycoting Muslim owned businesses and shops as well as racism against Muslims is playing into the hands of terrorists. This is the kind of behaviour that terrorists want. They want the other communities to be hateful and do bad things to the Muslim community to further their deeply deranged cause as a recruitment tactic. When it comes to the economic damage from the Easter Sunday attacks, they are adding to the already prevalent economic issues facing the country.

Boycotting these businesses and shops causes even more economic damage to the country. I’m sure that those who are involved in these boycotts would feel distressed, disappointed and saddened by negative news of the economy. I plea with you not to cause more negative news to Sri Lanka’s economy. The economic problems of these shops and businesses will likely further extend to the country as a whole. It could make the already difficult cost of living issues get worse. No one wants to hear of Sri Lanka experiencing negative economic growth.

If you’re engaged in boycotts, think back to the kind of people these Muslim owners you previously interacted with were like. Think logically about how they compare with extremists & terrorists based on how they behaved and what they did. Recall the positive and good memories of them, e.g. if there were acts of kindness, good quality of service, discounts they gave you etc. If you know of an instance of them speaking against extremism and/or terrorism in their own community/religion, recall those remarks and think about it.

I was focusing mainly on shop and business boycotts, but I what I say does apply to the problem of racism, terrorism, extremism and hatred in Sri Lanka right now. Work to make Sri Lanka the country you want it to be. In the same way that negative actions by a group of people can disrupt society, positive actions by a group of people can enrich society. Think of things you can do to make Sri Lanka more safer, secure, united, tolerant among many other improvements needed for the country.

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