Tracking Coexistence: Understanding Perceptions of the Religious ‘Other’
What does one religious community think of the other? Under what conditions may communities be willing to resolve differences through dialogue rather than through violence? These are some questions explored in this study which analyses peoples perceptions of the religious ‘other’ using data collected from Ampara, Colombo, Galle and Mannar. The sample consisted of Buddhists, Christians, Hindus, Muslims, and Roman Catholics in equal proportions. The study generates some preliminary findings on how different communities perceive religious tolerance and coexistence. By presenting different life scenarios and talking to 1,000 men and women of different age groups from four areas reflecting the diverse religious composition of Sri Lanka, the study seeks to enhance our understanding of inter-group and intra-group relations, as the country struggles to build social harmony and religious cohesion. The study seeks to influence law, policy and social interventions that can eliminate or least reduce religiously motivated violence, and promote respect for and tolerance of the other.