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Sri Lanka blocks social media as riots spread despite emergency

Posted in S. Asia

Published on March 09, 2018 with No Comments

Sri Lanka has barred social messaging networks including Facebook to stem violence against minority Muslims after mob attacks continued despite the imposition of emergency on the Buddhist-majority island. Tension has been growing between the two communities in Sri Lanka over the past year, with some hardline Buddhist groups accusing Muslims of forcing people to convert to Islam and vandalising Buddhist archaeological sites. Muslims deny this.

Buddhist mobs attacked mosques and businesses belonging to Muslims overnight, residents said even after President Maithripala Sirisena decreed an emergency for seven days to control the violence. A severed head of a youth was found in a mainly Muslim district of the capital Colombo, adding to tensions, residents said. Police said they were investigating. Some of the violence has been instigated by Facebook postings that threatened more attacks on Muslims, the government said. It said Facebook, Viber and Whatsapp would be blocked across Sri Lanka for three days. Meanwhile, US, Denmark and Norway advised their citizens in Sri Lanka to be cautious. Tourism, one of the foreign exchange mainstays of Sri Lanka’s $81 billion economy, could take a hit from the violence.

 

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