Saturday, June 3, 2023

The Rise of Religious Extremism in Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has undergone dramatic demographic changes in the past decades. The collective trauma that Sri Lankans experienced was minacious and it has transformed the society into a vulnerable condition. Post-war Sri Lanka is experiencing a new form of religious extremism and it disintegrates the social fabric.  

Religious extremism is a threat to peace and tolerance. Religious
 extremism has theological, ritual, social, and political dimensions. The clergy who engage in religious extremism have unique positions of authority, credibility, institutional resources, and ties with communities. They command power over the masses. Sometimes they are above the law. 

Extremist beliefs and actions tend to damage the fundamental values of society, the laws of democracy, and human rights. Religious ideology and extremism have an increasing influence on political agendas in the Sri Lankan political system. It is often associated with a particular political agenda. 

Religious radicalization is a process of developing extremist beliefs, emotions, and behaviors. The experts elucidate that there is a positive relationship significantly between psychological vulnerability and religious extremism. They further highlight that the brains of dogmatic people are slower to process perceptual evidence, but they are more impulsive personality-wise. People who come from lower social structures affected by poverty, lack of education, and childhood trauma have a greater openness to increasing engagement in religious extremism.   

It's essential to curb religious extremism. Education is a powerful tool to build resilience to violent extremism and mitigate the drivers of religious dogma.  The experts suggest an integrated, and multi-dimensional approach combined with regional and country-specific analysis and initiatives to end religious extremism. 

Dr. Ruwan M Jayatunge 

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