Founding President of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Sri Lanka, Rishvin Ismath, has been the target of sustained threats since 2016. In June 2019, Rishvin’s identity as an ex-Muslim was made public when he appeared before the Parliamentary Select Committee. The threats he received forced him to relocate for his own security. Despite relocating, Rishvin has continued to receive threats, both in person and through social media.
On 26 October 2020, Rishvin participated in the Presidential Commission of Inquiry on the Easter Sunday Attacks that examines the causes and handling of the coordinated April 2019 attacks in which at least 250 people were killed. Upon the close of a session in which Rishvin questioned Rasheed Hajjul Akbar, former leader of Sri Lanka Jama’ath-e-Islami – an islamist movement – about his role in propagating islamist teachings and violence in Sri Lanka and abroad, Rishvin was threatened by two known associates of Hajjul Akbar, who were waiting outside the building.
In its recent investigation into the experience of the non-religious in Sri Lanka, Humanists International found that these individuals face significant social stigma and discrimination. The organization urges the relevant authorities, including the police and the Commission itself, to investigate these threats and ensure Rishvin’s safety.