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Sri Lanka looks to Islamic gathering to revive tourism after attacks

Ashara Mubaraka marks the country's first major international event since Easter bombings

The Sri Lankan government has stepped up security around Islamic religious buildings to curtail a violent backlash against the country’s Muslim minority in the wake of the Easter attacks on churches and hotels by Islamist militants.   © Reuters

COLOMBO -- The Bohra Mosque in Colombo has become a hive of activity in recent weeks, its walls surrounded by construction equipment as the Dawoodi Bohra community prepares for the biggest international event to be held in Sri Lanka since Islamist attacks on hotels and churches killed more than 250 people in April.

The success of the sect's annual Ashara Mubaraka gathering, which moves between different countries each year, will be of crucial importance to Sri Lanka. The country hopes it will trigger a revival of confidence in the safety of the island's tourism industry, worth $4.4 billion a year. More than 200,000 people work in the hotel sector alone, with many more relying largely on visitors, including tuk-tuk drivers, restaurant workers and event organizers.

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