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Sri Lanka and Asia's failure of tolerance

Island's tragedy highlights regional inability to counter sectarian divisions

| Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bhutan
Sri Lanka's Muslim population is unusually important in its business life.   © Reuters

Sri Lanka's Easter Sunday blasts were a unique tragedy, ending hundreds of lives and violently yanking the country backward toward a past of bloodshed many hoped had been left behind in 2009, with the end of its decades-long civil war.

The decision of Islamic State-linked Muslim groups to bomb churches was rooted in a toxic confluence of local Sri Lankan divisions and potent global Islamism. But the bombings, in which 250 people died, carry a warning with wider resonance -- namely the failure of many emerging Asian nations to build a kind of civic nationalism fit to counter their deepening sectarian divisions.

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