Sunday, May 26, 2019 | ePaper

Sri Lanka blocks social media after anti-Muslim riots

  • Print


Sri Lanka has been on high alert since the Easter Sunday attacks.

AFP :
Sri Lanka blocked Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms on Monday after anti-Muslim riots hit several towns in the latest fallout from the Easter Sunday suicide attacks.
Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in a sign of the continued religious tension in Sri Lanka since the April 21 attacks by jihadist suicide bombers on three hotels and three churches which left 258 dead.
A state of emergency has been in place since the bombings-which the Islamic State group claims to have helped-and security forces have been given sweeping powers to arrest and detain suspects for long periods.
Police said a mob targetted shops in the north-west town of Chilaw on Sunday in anger at a Facebook post by a shopkeeper. Security forces fired into the air to disperse the crowd, but the violence spread to nearby towns where Muslim businesses were also attacked.
A motorcycle gang attacked shops in nearby Kuliyapitiya and four members were arrested, officials said. However, dozens of people laid siege to the police station and forced their release.
Despite a night curfew, a mosque was vandalised, local residents said.
Police said the curfew in Chilaw and nearby areas was relaxed Monday, but the social media ban was brought in to head off new violence.
"Don't laugh more, 1 day u will cry," was posted on Facebook by a Muslim shopkeeper, and local Christians took it to be a warning of an impending attack.
Mobs smashed the man's shop and vandalised a nearby mosque prompting security forces to fire in the air to disperse the crowd. A curfew was imposed from Sunday afternoon until dawn Monday.
There have already been clashes between Christians and Muslims in Negombo, the town north of Colombo that was one of the targets for the suicide attackers.
The main body of Islamic clerics, the All Ceylon Jamiyyathul Ulama (ACJU), said there was increased suspicion of Muslims after the Easter attacks carried out by local jihadists.
"We call upon the members of the Muslim communities to be more patient and guard your actions and avoid unnecessary postings or hosting on social media," the ACJU said.
Internet service providers said they have been instructed by the telecommunications regulator to block access to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and other platforms.
The latest unrest came as Catholic churches resumed Sunday masses for the first time since the bombings.
Worshippers were searched before being allowed into churches that were guarded by armed police and troops. There were no reports of disruption to services however.
Dozens of people have been detained since the Easter Sunday attacks, and amid the heightened security, police have banned parking near schools and students are allowed in after checking for explosives.
Public schools completed their reopening from extended Easter holidays after the attacks, but attendance was low, according to education authorities.
Upper classes resumed last week while primary school pupils were asked to start Monday.
Private Catholic schools were to open on Tuesday, but many were planning to postpone the reopening until next week, parent groups said.
Muslims make up around 10 percent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka's 21 million population and Christians about 7.6 percent.

More News For this Category

Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between its allies Iran, US

Iraq offers to mediate in crisis between its allies Iran, US

AP, Baghdad  :Iraq offered Sunday to mediate in the crisis between its two key allies, the United States and Iran, amid escalating Middle East tensions and as Tehran's nuclear deal

US envoy calls for Beijing 'dialogue' with Dalai Lama

US envoy calls for Beijing 'dialogue' with Dalai Lama

Reuters, Beijing :China should hold talks with Tibet's spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama, U.S. Ambassador to China Terry Branstad told Chinese officials during a trip to the Himalayan region where

Trump downplays North Korean missile treat

Trump downplays North Korean missile treat

AP, Tokyo :In an apparent contradiction of his national security adviser, President Donald Trump on Sunday downplayed recent North Korean missile tests, tweeting from Tokyo that they're not a concern

After years in jail, Syrian mother eyes new life

After years in jail, Syrian mother eyes new life

AFP, Maarat Masrin :After giving birth and raising a toddler during four years in a Syrian prison, 30-year-old Hasna Dbeis is now free - and determined to forge a new

Europe's voters elect new parliament as nationalism mounts

Europe's voters elect new parliament as nationalism mounts

AP, Brussels  :Pivotal elections for the European Union parliament reached their climax Sunday as the last 21 nations went to the polls, with results to be announced in the evening

News In Brief

UN chief rejects Yemen president's accusation of biasAFP, DubaiUN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has assured Yemen's leader that the world body will remain impartial in efforts to resolve the country's conflict,

US troop move to ME dangerous for international peace: Iran's FM

US troop move to ME dangerous for international peace: Iran's FM

AFP, Tehran  :Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Saturday a US decision to deploy 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East is a "threat to international peace," state media

US Ambassador raises concerns during rare Tibet visit

US Ambassador raises concerns during rare Tibet visit

AP, Beijing  :The U.S. Ambassador to China urged Beijing to engage in substantive dialogue with exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader the Dalai Lama during a visit to the Himalayan region over

US judge suspended for anti-Trump comments

US judge suspended for anti-Trump comments

AFP, Los Angeles  :A US judge has been suspended for six months without pay after making derogatory comments about Donald Trump, including criticizing his "inability to govern and political incompetence."Utah

Pakistan PM warns against war in region amid Iran tensions with US, Saudi Arabia

Pakistan PM warns against war in region amid Iran tensions with US, Saudi Arabia

Reuters, Islamabad  : Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan warned against the risk of conflict in the region, following a visit to Islamabad by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif as tensions between