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SAC Presents: Dennis McGilvary

341 Eggers Hall

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Sri Lankan Muslims:Between Ethno-nationalism and the Global Ummah Although the LTTE (Tamil Tiger) rebels were defeated by Sri Lankan government forces in May 2009, the island’s Muslim minority still face threats of Tamil ethno-linguistic nationalism and pro-Sinhala Buddhist government land and resettlement policies. In addition, localized conflicts have arisen within the Sri Lankan Muslim community between popular Sufi sheiks and followers of hostile Islamic reformist movements energized by ideas and resources from the global ummah, or world community of Muslims. This simultaneous combination of “external” ethno-nationalist rivalries and “internal” Islamic doctrinal conflict has placed Sri Lanka’s Muslims in a double bind: how to defend against Tamil and Sinhalese ethnic hegemonies while not appearing to embrace an Islamist or jihadist agenda. This talk traces the development of Sri Lankan Muslim identity in the 20th century, then examines the recent anti-Sufi violence that threatens to divide the Sri Lankan Muslim community today. 

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