Sri Lanka Buddhist monks slam anti-Muslim riots

Tensions have been rising over the past year between Sri Lanka's Sinhalese majority, who are mainly Buddhist, and Muslims, leading to attacks on businesses, homes and places of worship.

In the 24 hours to 6 am on Friday, six properties were reported to have been damaged while 65 people were arrested across Kandy, Gunasekara said. They named the main suspect as Amith Weerasinghe, a Sinhalese known for anti-Muslim activism and outspoken social media posts. Eleven mosques were attacked. Nine of the mosques were within Kandy district.

Kandy residents said shops and offices were open on Friday and life was slowly returning to normal.

Army chief Mahesh Senanayake visited Kandy on Thursday and promised an increased military presence near mosques.

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Authorities have also blocked internet access across the district and disrupted Facebook and messaging platforms after police said they were used to instigate racial violence. Most Muslim-owned businesses in the country remained shut as troops remained on high alert to prevent any untoward incidents after Friday prayers. There were no casualties. "We had 80% occupancy, but it has now dropped to about 30%", the operator of a deluxe hotel in the town of Kandy said on Friday, asking not to be named.

Commenting on recent anti-Muslim violence by Sinhala mobs in Sri Lanka, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Sri Lanka could handle the situation internally, however added that Beijing hoped the government would ensure the security of Chinese citizens on the island.

Sri Lanka's Muslims make up about 9 per cent of its 21 million people and mostly live in the east and centre of the island. Last year, for the seventh year in a row, Sri Lanka remained our top country of origin for referral and we have continued to raise our concerns about whether enough action is being taken throughout the country to address past impunity and implement effective programmes to dismantle the structures which allow torture to continue. If the government does not crush the Sinhala-Buddhist chauvinism that has led to the attacks on Muslims, it will turn against the Tamil minority sooner rather than later, resurrecting ghouls from the civil war.

Hundreds of Sinhalese including monks held a rally against the violence in Colombo on Friday, while many Muslim shopkeepers closed their doors in protest at the attacks.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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