Would proper implementation of law and order have stopped another episode of anti-Muslim attacks on the island? If so, how come the Sinhala gangs could engage in their violence in the presence of police and military amidst curfew? Does this happen simply because of some extremists who are disconnected from an ‘inefficient’, but ‘neutral’ state?
The current phase of violence against the Muslims is part of the logic of Sinhala supremacist politics upon which the Sri Lankan state has been built since the British colonial times; reinforced after so-called Independence in 1948 and further consolidated through the military victory over the LTTE in 2009 which was called Second Independence. In the 16th century, the Buddhists and Muslims fought together against the Portuguese, the first Western colonizer of the island. In the beginning of the British colonial period in the early 19th century, the Sinhalese and Tamils resisted their coloniser together and also independently from one another in their two distinct regions. However, later on as the British constructed a single unitary political structure on the island, the numerically majority Sinhalese were treated as a ‘chosen race’ and the Tamils and Muslims were portrayed as invaders. It is this colonially constructed supremacist mindset which has become the hallmark of the Sri Lankan state.