UN warns of exodus of Muslims from Sri Lanka if situation not addressed

The United Nations today warned that if the climate of fear amongst Muslim groups in Sri Lanka is not addressed it is likely to cause an exodus of Muslims from the country.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief, Ahmed Shaheed said that a recurrent complaint in Sri Lanka was the role of the media and social media in fomenting hatred and disinformation, the failure of the police to protect minority communities and the inability to hold perpetrators to account.

He said that the recurrence of such episodic violence has fostered a climate of fear amongst Muslim groups and if unaddressed, it is likely to cause an exodus of Muslims from the country.

In a report at the end of a 12-day mission to Sri Lanka, the UN Special Rapporteur said that the long-standing traditions of religious harmony and co-existence in Sri Lanka must be reinforced to address the challenges of the modern context of the country.

“This is characterised by growing politicisation of religion, polarisation of communities through segregated education based on ethno-religious identity, opening up of under regulated spaces for communication through privatised electronic media and spread of social media, simmering resentment against perceived majoritarian privilege, growing frustration over capricious law enforcement, and the spread of religious extremism,” he said.

Ahmed Shaheed said that State must prosecute those responsible for violence and incitement to violence, make efforts to dismantle the networks of hate, and facilitate access to justice to victims of hate crimes.

He also said that the State should develop systems and mechanisms to monitor and respond to hate speech in conformity with international human rights standards.

“The guidance provided by a number of tools developed by the UN system, notably the Rabat Plan of Action on responding to hate speech and the Fez Plan of Action on Responding to Incitement to Mass Atrocity Violence would be valuable for use in training law enforcement officials. These tools should also be disseminated to media persons, civil society actors, religious leaders and political leaders,” he said.

He called on Government leaders and religious leaders to speak out against hateful narratives and reject efforts to ostracise and stigmatise minority communities and persons in vulnerable situations.

The UN Special Rapporteur also said that the State should utilise the Beirut Declaration and its 18 Commitments on Faith for Rights in its activities designed to promote inter-religious dialogue.

Such dialogues, he says, must be inclusive with voluntary participation of all communities, bringing together not just religious leaders but religious actors that work to advance peacebuilding and human rights, including women and members of religious minorities and the non-religious.

He also noted that social media platforms should invest more in the ability to monitor and respond to incitement to violence while protecting freedom of expression and access to information. (Colombo Gazette)


  1. Sad but true… where ever UN got involved and intervened or interfered with the backing of the US and UK it has led to devision, desaster and destruction of economies, cultures and communities.
    So my request is just butt out of our internal affairs and letnus sort it.. we are capable of living togeter as Sri Lankans…!
    If you are going by the 225 divisive plolitically and selfish politicians … that is notnSri Lankans.

  2. It is very unfair a Muslim is appointed to address this problem from the UN. And he has no evidence to come.to such biased conclusions. You should visit our temples and churches. Muslims can go to their mosques and worship and there is no disturbance as such. And if you see the statistics there is no reduction in number who go to mosques. But the majority of Buddhist and other minorities are frightened to go to their temples and churches, according to the statistics. During the Dalada perahara in Kandy there is a significance drop in number who visit the Dalada Maligawa and watch the perahara. During the Ragama St Mary’ s church’s special religious healing program the number dropped to less than 50% compared with last year. I think without make an investigation or analysis it is very unfair to make such comment Mr. Ahamed Shaheed special rapporteur for UN.

    As nation we can solve our problems and we do not want to see UN interven to make this paradise to another Iraq or Yemen.

  3. This is typical UN propaganda against a small country for which they have geopolitical plans. They paint the narrative to persecute the majority and miss all the evidence where all rule of law is ignored and abused in the name ofreligious law by said minorities. Thus emancipation the law system on the fear of being labeled by an – ism or – phobia. How can someone has rational conversation. Read “Tamil Tiger Debt to America” by Daya Gamage, a similar narrative is being formed here against the sri lankans

  4. It would be good if we read the report submitted (link is provided in the article itself) before jumping in with our two cents worth comments please. These comments have but brought out the built in biases against comments by those considered ‘The Outsider’, and do NOT reflect ‘Sound’ nor ‘Holistic’ thinking.
    If we are to address the real grounded situation in our Motherland, we need to change our bad thinking habits; consider ‘All’ inputs carefully, and use the insights gained from various perspectives to bring about Justice, Peace and Equality to All. There is a lot of work been done, not only in Sri Lanka, but also Internationally, towards Higher Goals, not all of it applicable here-of course; Sitz-Im-Leben, naturally. But, Sri Lankans do not have to re-invent the wheel all over again either. Start the evolution / revolution within my friends, before coming out…


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