Decades of violent civil war in Sri Lanka – brief overview

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Sri Lanka was dominated for decades by the sharp divide between the majority Sinhalese, who are overwhelmingly Buddhist, and the minority Tamil, who are Hindu, Muslim and Christian.

The Tamil minority formed into a group called the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam and dedicated to the fight for Tamil independence. They were crushed in a 2009 government offensive.

After the civil war ended, a religious divide quickly took hold, with hard-line Buddhist monks rallying Sri Lankans against what they argue is a pernicious threat: Muslims, who make up roughly 10% of the country’s population.

In 2018, anti-Muslim violence flared across the hills of central Sri Lanka, fed by rumors spread over social media about attacks on Buddhists. Mobs of Buddhists swept through small towns, attacking mosques and Muslim-owned shops.

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