ECONOMYNEXT – Sri Lanka’s Finance Minister Mangala Samaraweera slammed a Nazi-style boycott of Muslim businesses and mob violence unleashed by Sinhalese nationalists in 2019 who got a new lease of life in the wake of Islamist Easter Sunday bombings.
"The attacks against Muslim businesses is also terrorism which is also as bad as bombing," Samaraweera told parliament.
Muslim-owned apparel factories alone employed over 100,000 Sinhalese workers, he said.
Majoritarian nationalists, through whisper campaigns and social media are again urging Sinhalese customers not to patronize Muslim owned businesses or brands in an eerie re-enaction of the 1933 Judenboycott (boycott of Jewish businesses) of National Socialist Germany.
Mainstream media have also been blamed for winding up the majority in Völkischer Beobachter style.
Kristallnacht Version 2019
Re-enacting Kristallnacht (Night of the broken glass) when German nationalists destroyed Jewish busineses and synagogues in November 09, 1933, Sinhalese nationalist mobs destroyed Muslim businesses and Mosques on May 13, killing at least one person.
A similar incident had taken place in 2014 in Aluthgama and Beruwala, when at least four people were killed. Ahead of the violence, similar propaganda was spread against Muslim commerical interests as well as foreign imports.
Intelligence officials said the extremist Muslim groups that carried out the Easter Sunday bombings had also been partly motivated by domestic incidents, though the key triggers in 2019 seemed external.
The Easter Sunday bombers apparently had links to Islamic State, a Syria-based Pan-Nationalist group. Pan-Nationalists do not necesarily need a domestic discriminated minority (an oppressed irredenta) to foment unrest.
Islamic Pan-Nationalists including Wahabists and the Muslim Brotherhood had also been active in countries with a majority of co-religionists, spreading an extreme version of monotheism, which are contrary to present-day religious practices.
Sri Lanka forces had made great strides in shutting down the terror network Samarawera said.
"Even though the securities forces succeded in containing international terrorists, bankrupt political parties are trying to create another ‘Black July’," Samaraweera said.
"You can ask the security forces. One reason the forces were so successful in controlling these Islamist extremists unlike other countries was because Muslim Sri Lankans helped with information."
Sri Lanka’s worst Kristallnacht-style attack happened in July 1983 when Sinhalese nationalists attacked thousands of Tamil houses and businesses, leaving many dead and providing recruits for Tamil Tiger separatists.
In Sri Lanka, Buddhist mobs, egged on by monks, also attack Christian places of worship, while police watch.
The week before the attack on Churches by Islamist, the head of Sri Lanka’s Methodist Church was held hostage by a mob, while police failed to arrive for two hours (Mob attack on Anuradhapura Methodist Centre).
Critics say this type of attitude could have played a part in the apparent indifference to prior Indian warnings about Easter Sunday attacks on Christian churches.
Judenboykott Version 2019
Samaraweera said boycotts were being launched by nationalists against other Muslim-owned businesses, where an overwhelming majority of workers were Sinhalese.
He said the boycotts were a well-orchestrated attempt to de-stabilize the economy.
A pasta factory destroyed in Minuwangoda, where some of the worst violence took place, employed mostly Sinhalese workers.
"Ninety five percent of the workers of the factory are Sinhalese," he said. "I understand that there were only three Muslim workers. Today all the Sinhalese workers are at home without a job."
Muslim owned businesses were making a major contribution to the economy, earning billions of dollars in export revenues, he said.
"Muslim owned businesses are earning more than three billion US dollars of export revenues," Samaraweera said.
"Apparel exporters alone have provided over 100,000 jobs to Sinhalese people.
He said Brandix, a top apparel firm, employed 48,000 people, and 75 percent were Sinhalese. He said at Timex Garmernts, 90 percent of the 10,000-odd workers were Sinhalese.
He said the top exporter of Ceylon Tea was a Muslim-owned business.
"When I say these things, it hurts some people. They say I am anti-Buddhist."
Nationalism emerged in several former Empires as feudal rule gave way to the popular vote.
When countries were fragmented, the polity that formed the majority at that snapshot in time claimed it as their own, based on ethnicity or relgion or both.
Post Imperial Nationalist Hate
They usually harked back to a past glory based on a demography that may never have existed.
They used tools inherited from the fomer Colonial masters such as birth certificates, citizenship laws and parliaments to discrimininate against minorities of the present day.
Unlike Kings and Emperors, who were either ‘foreign’ or ‘noble’ or both, and had no direct affinity to the general population they ruled over, elected leaders found that nationalism was the easiest path to power in a country with the popular vote.
This ‘illiberal democracy’ led to mass dehunamization and internal conflict. There could be external conflict if trade and other restrictions were slapped, or if neighbouring countries had a majority of the oppressed internal minority or irredenta.
Germany was a part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Sri Lanka was part of the British Empire. Religious dignitaries also played a part in fuelling nationalist hate.
In Germany it was Martin Luther (On the Jews and Their Lies). In Sri Lanka ideologues like Anagarika Dharmapala have long formented nationalism against Muslims, calling them ‘para hambaya’ in their writings, a term that was revived in Sri Lanka by Buddhist nationalists ahead of the Aluthgama killings, students of history had shown.
In Sri Lanka, in social media and online reports, there were stories of persons dressed in the garb on Buddhist monks, chasing away Sinhala customers, in the style of Nazi brown shirts, from Muslim shops or formenting hatred against Muslims and Christians.
Around and before the time of the Aluthgama riots, members of the Bodu Bala Sena, a Buddhist Nationalist group, also ran Brownshirt-style pickets.
In Sri Lanka, where teachers in state schools which have a centralized syllabus, very small children are routinely taught nationalism, fomenting hatred against Tamils as invaders from India and Christians as Portuguese invaders.
In Sri Lanka anti-Muslim boycotts are also spurred by Sinhalese business organizations who want to kill competition. Such businesses are also fomenting hatred against imports. New Zealand milk has been a particular target.
The same trend had been observed in Germany showing that economic nationalism and ethno-religious fascism are interlinked.
"In a world in which people have grasped the meaning of a market society, and therefore advocate a consumer’s policy, there is no legal discrimination against Jews,” explained Austrian economist and philosopher Ludwig von Mises.
"Whoever dislikes the Jews may in such a world avoid patronizing Jewish shopkeepers, doctors and lawyers. On the other hand, in a world of interventionism only a miracle can in the long run hinder legal discrimination against Jews.
"The policy of protecting the less-efficient domestic producer against the more efficient foreign producer, the artisan against the manufacturer, and the small shop against the department and chain stores would be incomplete if it did not protect the ‘Aryan’ against the Jew."