Sri Lanka, which thrived on communal harmony despite facing the worst civil war, was unprepared for the violence that shocked the island nation on Easter Sunday. Sri Lanka was rocked with 8 serial blasts that took place in three important cities of the country, including the capital city of Colombo. The government has therefore expelled 600 foreign nationals which also include 200 Islamic clerics.
These clerics had entered the country illegally and were found during the security crackdown. The steps were taken by the Sri Lankan government after the intelligence agencies reported that the attackers also included people who over stayed their visa. For this, they were imposed with a fine and expelled from the island.
Home Affairs Minister, Vijira Abeywardena said, “Considering current situation in the country, we have lost reviewed the visas system and took a decision to tighten visa restrictions for religious teachers.” The Easter Sunday attacks also included a local cleric who had traveled to India and made contact with the jihadists who were responsible for the suicide bombings in the country.
Abeywardena further added, “There are religious institutions which have been getting down foreign preachers for decades, we have no issues with them, but there are some which mushroomed recently. We will pay more attention to them.” He also said that the government was overhauling the country’s visa policy, following fears that the clerics might further radicalize the society and cause another attack in the country. The Sunday attacks led to more than 250 people dead and a number of people injured.
Keeping security measures in mind, the Sri Lankan government has also banned burqa. The interrogation of the suspects and other pieces of evidence pointed out that the women who were involved in the attack could have gotten away easily because of the burqa. Since the attacks, Sri Lanka has been kept on emergency. The government fears another attack can take place, and hence in order to prevent any such thing, it is taking all the measures to crackdown on the radicalism breeding in the island country.
Sri Lanka has enjoyed a brief period of de-radicalised Islam in the past, however it was too short lived. Sri Lanka, initially had a broad and open community of the Islamic culture. The change in Islam in Sri Lanka took another turn, after the sectarian tensions following the Civil War. The harmony died out after the extremism in the faith started gaining strong grounds. This change was remarkably observed after the Gulf War. Those who migrated to the Gulf states for work came back with a sterner strain of Islam. This is how extremists established a more rigid Islam in Sri Lanka.
With house to house being searched and various other security operations, Sri Lanka has been filling all the gaps which had cost the country huge loss of lives. The expulsion of Islamic clerics is a part of the same sequence. The rigid and inflexible nature of radical Islam was exploited by the jihadist to carry out such a heinous crime against humanity.