Authorities in Sri Lanka, on Monday, blocked social networking and messaging platforms Facebook and WhatsApp following violent clashes between the Sinhalese and Muslim communities.
The Sri Lankan government took the decision on the intervening night of Sunday and Monday as tension grew up between the minority Muslims and majority Sinhalese in the wake of the Easter Sunday bombings of April 21 in which more than 300 people, including 10 Indian nationals were killed and hundreds injured.
The Sri Lankan police had, on Sunday, imposed a curfew in the Christian-majority coastal town of Chilaw in the western part of the island nation. A mob had attacked a mosque and some shops and stores owned by Muslims following a dispute that started over a Facebook post by a Muslim shop owner.
Later in the evening, another mosque and a few Muslim owned shops were attacked in the northwest town of Kuliyapitiya following which the authorities imposed curfew in the area.
The violence is being attributed to the Easter Sunday’s suicide bombings for which the terror outfit Islamic State had claimed responsibility. Though, the government has blamed local Islamist extremist group the National Thawheed Jama’ath (NTJ) for the bombings.
Police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera, on Monday, informed, “The curfew imposed in Kuliyapitya and Chilaw has been lifted.”
A majority of radical groups have been active on Facebook, calling for the boycotts of Muslim-owned businesses and spreading hate messages and fake news on the platform. Following the Easter bombings, social media has been blocked several times in Sri Lanka to prevent the spread of hate messages and fake news.
Sri Lanka has a population of about 21 million dominated by the Sinhalese Buddhist majority. Hindus form the largest minority group followed by Muslims and Christians.
(With PTI inputs)