Sri Lanka said on Monday it was temporarily blocking some social media networks and messaging apps, including Facebook and WhatsApp, after mosques and Muslim-owned businesses were attacked in the wake of Easter bombings by Islamist militants.
Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a man was beaten in the town of Chilaw on the west coast on Sunday in a dispute that started on Facebook, according to the sources. authorities said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, whose online comment “1 day u will cry” locals said was interpreted as threatening violence. Authorities arrested a group in the nearby areas of Kuliyapitiya and Dummalasuriya later on Sunday and early on Monday for allegedly attacking Muslim-owned businesses, declared by sources. Military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said people in the area then demanded the arrested men be released.
“To control the situation, a police curfew was imposed during the night,” Atapattu said. The flare-up in violence came three weeks after Sri Lankan Islamist bombers blew themselves up in four hotels and three churches, killing more than 250 people.
Since then, Muslim groups say they have received dozens of complaints from across the country about people being harassed. Other communities say they are fearful that the government, which failed to act on successive warnings about looming Islamist attacks, has not caught all potential militants.