Calming situation, Sri Lanka blocks social media after violent incidents rise tensions

As Sri Lanka still mourns under the worst attack on humankind, the Easter attack shook the very base of humanity. With the country normalising, the situation still remains in tension. Taking cognizance of the rising tensions between the minority Muslims and majority Sinhalese in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings, the Sri Lankan government on Monday blocked social media platforms. The blocking of Facebook and Whatsapp came after Sri Lankan police had imposed curfew in the country’s western coastal town of Chilaw.

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A mob attacked a mosque and some shops owned by Muslims in a dispute that started on a Facebook post by a Muslim shop owner. The cordon of Facebook and WhatsApp has been imposed form mid night following violent incidents between the minority Muslim and majority Sinhalese communities. It has been reported that a majority of the nationalist groups have been active on Facebook reviving calls for boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses and spreading hate. The voilence is a direct fallout from the Eastern Sunday’s suicide bombings.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility of the attack but the government also blamed the local Islamist extremist group, the National Thawheed Jama’ath (NTJ), for the bombings. Nine suicide bombers, including a woman, carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and three luxury hotels, killing 258 people and injuring over 500 others on April 21.

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The government had earlier imposed ban on social media to prevent spread of fake news. The security remained tight on Monday as another warning of a possible attack later in the day was doing rounds.

President Maithripala Sirisena has vowed to eliminate the militants and restore normality in the country. Sri Lanka’s police say they have either killed or arrested all those responsible for the bombings but that the threat of global terrorism persists. Over 1,000 have been arrested since the attacks.

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Muslims account for 10 per cent of the population and are the second-largest minority after Hindus. Around seven per cent of Sri Lankans are Christians.

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