Saturday, 24 August, 2019

Sri Lanka Government Orders Nationwide Curfew For Second Night

Sri Lanka bans social media services once again as tensions arise due to Facebook post Sri Lanka imposes curfew after mobs target mosques
Patty Aguilar | 15 May, 2019, 19:06

"They were from out of town", an owner of an electronic goods store told AFP by telephone.

A 34-year-old man who was at the mosque said about 150-200 came toward the mosque with rods and swords on Sunday but the Muslims who were in the mosque persuaded them to go away with the help of the police.

Among those detained was Amith Weerasinghe, a man from Sri Lanka´s majority Buddhist Sinhalese community and on bail for his role in similar riots in March past year in the central Kandy district.

'Police and security forces have contained the situation, but these (unidentified) groups are still trying to create trouble'.

In the north-western town of Kiniyama, windows and doors to a mosque were smashed and copies of the Koran thrown on the floor.

In Bingiriya, where some 2,000 people went on the rampage, Muslim cleric M.I.M. Siddeeque said the community was anxious.

Residents in Muslim areas of North Western Province said crowds attacked mosques and damaged Muslim-owned businesses for a second day on Monday.

"Security forces are assisting police who have been ordered to use maximum force to contain the violence", police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said. Homes and mosques were also vandalised by large groups of people armed with sticks and weapons.

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Political commentator Victor Ivan suggested that the violence was politically orchestrated. "There is evidence of junior level opposition figures instigating communal violence".

Nalaka Kaluwewa, the chief of the Information Department said the ban on social media was intended "to prevent misinformation from being circulated and also to prevent spreading of information that would harm communal harmony".

The main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama, said there was increased suspicion of Muslims after the Easter Sunday attacks.

The April 21 attacks, claimed by Islamic State, targeted churches and hotels, killing more than 250 people and fuelling fears of a backlash against the island nation's minority Muslims.

In over a dozen interviews, Muslims in Kurunegala said the attacks took place despite the presence of security forces.

Mr Wickremesinghe said he had given powers to the security forces to take strong action against those disturbing the peace. Netblocks confirms that Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, YouTube, Viber, Snapchat and Facebook Messenger are blocked on leading internet providers.

This is third time in a month that the Sri Lanka government has banned social media services, all to control the spread of misinformation and rumors online.

The latest wave of unrest started when a mob targeted Muslim-owned shops in the town of Chilaw, 80 kilometres north of Colombo, on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper. "If we lose ourselves in violence, racism, thuggery and hatred we lose our country".

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