Sri Lanka: Anti-Muslim Mobs Attack Mosques, Authorities Suspend Social Media

A Muslim man stands in front of the Abbraar Masjid mosque after a mob attack in Kiniyama, Sri Lanka. Credit: Reuters/Dinuka Liyanawatte

By Taib Biygautane

Rabat – The anti-Muslim overnight attacks on Muslim properties in Chilaw village, Sri Lanka, were allegedly triggered by a Muslim storekeeper’s post on Facebook, said Reuters sources.

The attacks damaged “several mosques and Muslim homes,” reported Reuters.

“There was glass everywhere at the Abrar mosque in the Muslim-majority town of Kiniyama that was attacked overnight. All the windows and doors of the soft-pink building were smashed and copies of the Quran were thrown onto the floor,” added the same source.

In response to these attacks, Sri Lankan authorities temporarily suspended social media accounts, including WhatsApp and Facebook, in an attempt to curb online calls for violence.

“Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country,” said the director general of the government information department, Nalaka Kaluwewa.

Police had also implemented a curfew during the attacks last night in order to “control the situation,” said Sri Lanki forces spokesperson, Sumith Atapattu. Police extended the curfew on Monday morning.

Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed the arrest of Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, a shopkeeper whose Facebook post, “1 day u will cry,” is said to have been “interpreted as threatening violence,” reported Reuters.

Since last month’s terror attacks on Sri Lanka, for which Daesh claimed responsibility, Muslim minorities reported frequent acts of harassment complaints. The Sri Lankan government has recently responded to these complaints by setting up a police hotline for Muslims to report any new acts of harassment.

Over two thirds, 70%, of Sri Lankans are Buddhist, with the remaining 30% belong to Hinduism, Islam, and Christianity.

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