Sri Lankan Prime Minister D.M. Dayaratne’s order to demolish the 65-year-old masjid in Dambulla and build one elsewhere strikes at the very root of religious freedom.
This month, the world may witness the final chapter in the 25-year-old conflict between the Sri Lankan army and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE), commonly known as the Tamil Tigers. The civil war, which has killed more than 70,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands others, was triggered by Tamil demands for an independent homeland in the North and East of the country following decades of complaints about discrimination against them by the majority Buddhist Sinhalese government.
Sri Lanka's one-and-a-half million Muslims (8 percent of the island's population) feel that they are caught between the hammer and the anvil. A number of incidents in the last few monthshas caused deep concern among the second largest minority: the fear is that they too face increasing insecurity not only because of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in the East but also because of chauvinists within the Sinhala majority in the South.
The peace talks between the Sri Lankan government and the Tamil Tigers have hit a snag: the Tigers have boycotted the meeting to be held in Japan in June to solicit financial support from donors. A ceasefire in effect since February 2002 is now in jeopardy because of an announcement on April 21 by Anton Balasingham, the Tigers’ representative