Police arrest Islamic preacher for inciting extremism on social media

Clay Curtis
May 13, 2019

Police imposed the island-wide curfew from 9pm local time (15:30 GMT) to 4am, a police statement said on Monday.

Dozens of people have been detained since the Easter Sunday attacks, and amid the heightened security, police have banned parking near schools and students are allowed in after checking for explosives.

Reports said that several people threw stones at mosques and attacked Muslim-owned shops.

A number of people surrounded and damaged an Islamic religious centre and police arrested a person, identified as Abdul-Hameed Mohamed, who had allegedly posted an inflammatory message on Facebook.

The Police imposed the curfew Sunday afternoon and announced that it would take effect till 6.00 am Monday.

Facebook and WhatsApp have also been banned as the government seeks to quell the unrest in the aftermath of the Easter Sunday bombings last month, which killed more than 250 people including in three churches.

Yesterday, security forces fired in the air to disperse mobs, but the violence spread to nearby towns where Muslim businesses were also attacked.

"We call upon the members of the Muslim communities to be more patient and guard your actions and avoid unnecessary postings or hosting on social media", the ACJU said.

Sri Lanka again blocks social media platforms after violence in northwestern coastal town Mon, May 13, 2019, 08:38 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

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The violence is a direct fallout from the Eastern Sunday's suicide bombings.

The government's warning against panic caused on social media: Sri Lanka's defence secretary General (Rtd) Shantha Kottegoda urged the public to approach the authorities with security threats instead of spreading it online, stating that it "would only cause panic and unrest". He said the curfew would be lifted at dawn on Monday.

The Muslims, huddled in the mosque, asked the police to fire in the air to disperse the mob, but the police said the people wanted to inspect the mosque for weapons.

Sunday services were cancelled in the subsequent two weekends for fear of more attacks, leaving the worshippers to hear Mass via a live television link from the Colombo residence of Archbishop Malcolm Ranjith.

Muslim men gather outside the Abbraar Masjid mosque after a mob attack in Kiniyama, Sri Lanka.

There have already been clashes between Christians and Muslims in Negombo, the town north of Colombo that was targeted by the suicide attackers.

Since then, the government has intensified security across the country, with armed policemen and troops being deployed to protect schools, churches and key government offices.

Muslims make up around 10 percent of Buddhist-majority Sri Lanka's 21 million population and Christians about 7.6 percent.

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