Sri Lanka's Muslims 'demonised' after Easter bombings

Until a few months ago, Mohammed Iliyas, was doing a thriving business in his hardware shop in western Sri Lanka. Now trade has plummeted and his losses are mounting.

His shop stocks everything from paint tins to electric bulbs and is one of the better known in and around Kottaramulla village, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) from the capital Colombo.

Minority Muslims live among the majority Sinahalese community in this area. For decades, Mr Iliyas, who is a Muslim, spent his days serving people from all religious communities.

But that has changed since Sri Lanka’s Easter Sunday bombings in April.

“Since the Easter Sunday bombings, almost 90% of my Sinhalese customers have stopped buying from my shop. My business has gone down significantly and I have lost hundreds of thousands of rupees,” Mr Iliyas said.

Image caption A Muslim vendor in Colombo’s Pettah market

Islamists linked to little-known local groups targeted high-end hotels and churches in Colombo and in the east of the country killing more than 250 people, including foreigners. The devastating attack, claimed by the Islamic State group, shocked the nation.

“Though some customers have…

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