Fecund mullas and goni billas: gendered nature of anti Muslim rhetoric in post-war Sri Lanka


  • Farzana Haniffa University of Colombo


Issues that are prominent within the anti-Muslim hate discourse that pervaded Sri Lanka in recent years are the speed at which the Muslim community is increasing its numbers—they are said to become a majority in a few decades; as well as Muslim women’s dress- the hijab nikab and abhaya. Certain Muslim interlocutors’ own responses have included defending the hijab as protecting women from violence, and urging that the state institute measures to increase the Sinhalese population. Ironically the latter was also the position of the Bodu Bala Sena the group propagating anti- Muslim sentiment; and the government responded to the position and institutionalized it by way of a health ministry circular banning NGO programs in reproductive health. I look at the manner in which gender orders became reorganized in the aftermath of the state’s military victory over the rebel group the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009 as a consequence of militarism. This reordering is reflected both in the anti Muslim rhetoric and the rolling back of important women friendly policies in the country. Writing on women’s experiences in Sri Lanka, however look mainly at the experiences of particular ethnic communities at the expense of a collective narrative of exclusion exploitation and misogyny. Exploring these developments this paper will also speculate as to why it is difficult to think outside the ethnic frames to understand the gendered nature of the post war moment.

Author Biography

Farzana Haniffa, University of Colombo

Department of Sociology 

Senior Lecturer


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How to Cite

Haniffa, F. (2015). Fecund mullas and goni billas: gendered nature of anti Muslim rhetoric in post-war Sri Lanka. The South Asianist Journal, 4(1). Retrieved from https://www.southasianist.ed.ac.uk/article/view/1308