ibusinesslines.com March 18, 2018

Sri Lanka Presidential Commission to probe anti-Muslim nationalist violence

10 March 2018, 11:51 | Justin Tyler

Soldiers guard mosques in tense Sri Lanka

Sri Lankan President Maithripala Sirisena imposed nationwide emergency following communal clashes in the violence-hit Kandy district

Several homes, businesses and mosques in the hilly Kandy district have been damaged in anti-Muslim riots, since Monday.

The government declared a state of emergency on Tuesday as the unrest escalated when a Muslim man was found dead in a fire-gutted building.

"So far, there have been 85 arrests in connection with a series of incidents of communal violence", he said.

However, three boats belonging to a Muslim businessman outside the district were torched, police said.

A daytime curfew within Kandy city's limits was relaxed Thursday morning in a sign of improving conditions, only to be re-imposed in the afternoon as communal violence claimed a third life within a week.

Kandy/Colombo: Sri Lankan police said they were investigating whether 10 suspected ringleaders of a wave of attacks on Muslims by Sinhalese Buddhists had outside funding or foreign help.

According to media reports, around 80 tourists have cancelled their bookings made at one of the top three travel companies in Sri Lanka, which could possibly amount to a loss of 800 nights. 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.

President Maithripala Sirisena toured Kandy on Wednesday and ordered security forces to use the full force of the law against troublemakers.

A Sri Lankan policeman guards a mosque in Sri Lanka's capital Colombo amid fears that anti-Muslim riots in the central region of Kandy could spread to other areas of the island.

Rajapaksha urged both the Sinhalese and Muslim communities to live peacefully and accused the government of failing in its duties in controlling the situation.

In an interview with Deutsche Welle, Alan Keenan of the International Crisis Group warned that "Sri Lanka was on the brink".

Saying that Islamophobic narratives were flaming communal violence, Keenan noted that extremist Buddhist elements were fostered openly by the former regime, resulting in a direct increase of violence against the Muslim minority.

Police reimposed a curfew in Kandy from 8pm on Friday until 5am on Saturday.

Sinhalese Buddhists are the majority ethnic group in Sri Lanka, making up 75 percent of its 21 million people. Muslims make up around 10 percent of the island's almost 22 million people.

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