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Sri Lankan Businesses Under Attack

Racists are doing ISIS’s work for them

In the wake of the Easter Attacks, rather large groups of Sri Lankans are calling for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses. But also random businesses. And what even is a Muslim business? Hence I title this piece ‘Sri Lankan Businesses Under Attack’, because the effect is really on the whole economy.

A corporation may have a Muslim Chairman, CEO or be owned by a Muslim family, but they often have diverse shareholders, staff, suppliers and serve diverse consumers. They are, in short, part of a locally and internationally connected economy.

I say this because it is true, but it has no impact on the people calling for boycotts who are racist and jealous and often see a competitive advantage in attacking these particular businesses, even while they are generally damaging the country and themselves in the process. As if the ISIS attack didn’t do enough damage, racists seem determined to prove that we have not yet begun to fuck ourselves.

As an example, this is an ad for ‘Our Sinhala Taxi’. As if a service for transporting your butt from A to B requires a race. The unfortunate logo (a rip-off of the market leader PickMe) looks like Tax Me, which is also a bit of a self-own.

I do some work with PickMe and they are hit especially hard by racist attacks because they have a Muslim CEO, despite having a diverse board and ownership structure. In other cases, there are calls to switch to Uber, which is ironic because that company was 14% Saudi owned pre-IPO.

Meanwhile, of course, no one is boycotting the petrol or diesel that powers every vehicle here, where the money goes most directly to Muslim majority countries. It’s unfortunate that racism cannot be channeled to at least benefit the environment.

Another example is the diversified conglomerate Hemas which is facing boycott calls on social media and pressures at the small shop level regarding stocking their shampoos, toothpastes and other FMCGs.

Hemas was started by a Muslim family but is now publicly traded, has a foreign CEO and again employs, buys from and sells to a diverse range of human beings and puts food on the table for countless families who are generally united by the fact that they eat food more than they are divided by their race.

Another example completely out of left field is that the spice supplier McCurrie is being hit by boycott calls because the father of one of the terrorists was a spice supplier. But that company was not McCurrie, and McCurrie happens to be founded by a Sinhalese gentlemen, but again none of that is relevant because they’re part of a diverse economy and just want to help make tasty food that any human can eat.

Then there is the classic halal issue coming up again, with chicken suppliers like Nelna getting rid of their halal certification to avoid the controversy and bakers like Butter Boutique and Bakes By Bella fielding inquiries as to whether their suppliers are halal or not, to decide if those places should be boycotted for those reasons.

The examples go on and on, and the saddest cases are the small roadside restaurants and shops owned by poor Muslim people who are being boycotted, or the fruit sellers and street vendors who have been attacked and had their meagre properties destroyed by rioters. This shows you the true ugliness of these boycotts, that they ultimately hit the poor and the vulnerable most.

It’s all nonsenical posturing and stupid racism, and taken together these idiots are doing ISIS’s work for them. On the one hand, dividing communities, and on the other hand hitting the economy.

The Easter Attacks hit the tourist economy hard, but now these boycotts are a secondary attack on all parts of the national economy. As an example, when Muslim-owned fashion outlets are boycotted (they are also burned), it is the diverse employees and suppliers and customers that ultimately suffer. When, in the May riots, Sri Lanka’s largest pasta factory was burnt it was the terrified workers who had to escape and who presumably lost their jobs. Since our economy is interconnected, this has a knock-on effect. Employees lose jobs, suppliers lose business and consumers have less choice.

All for what? So a bunch of jobless johnnies can feel good about defending their race, when in fact they are just dumb shrapnel from an ISIS blast? It’s tragic and inspid and all so pointless and counter-productive.

There’s an ad at Thumulla Junction (from Telesonic Fans/Midea ACs) which says:

Together, we shall overcome

Which is true, but it always depresses me because it’s really an if/then statement. If we’re together, we shall overcome. But we’re not together. And we’re not overcoming. We have to stop this. Wake up Sri Lanka. You’re losing your damn minds.

Written by

A writer living in Colombo, Sri Lanka. He/him. Videos: and podcast:

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