02/28/2018, 13.37
SRI LANKA
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Sinhalese set fire to mosque and several shops in Ampara

by Melani Manel Perera

A riot broke out after rumours spread that a Muslim-run hotel served food mixed with sterility pills. Last year marked a rise in Buddhist nationalist sentiment.

Colombo (AsiaNews) – A mosque and several Muslim-owned shops were set on fire by Sinhalese in Ampara, eastern Sri Lanka.

The anti-Muslim anger was triggered by rumours that a hotel run by a Muslim served food tainted with sterility pills to Sinhalese. As a result, a riot broke out on Monday night.

According to press agency reports, a group of young drunken Sinhalese entered the Cassim Hotel, which is owned by a Muslim and located in the D.S. Senanayake Veediya area.

Inside they forced the cashier to admit that food laced with sterility pills had been served to Sinhalese patrons.

Driven by a blind fury, the mob attacked a local mosque, shops and vehicles parked at the edge of the road.

Not even the police intervention managed to contain the anger. Only with the arrival of a special Army Task Force was calm re-established.

The incident of religious violence came a few days after Amnesty International released its annual report for 2017-2018 on the state of human rights.

In it, Sri Lanka appears on the list of the most insecure countries for Muslims. “Sri Lanka saw a rise in Buddhist nationalist sentiment, including attacks against Christians and Muslims,” says the document.

Following a series of attacks against Muslims and their property, the international community last year condemned the violence and asked the government to protect the rights of minorities and freedom of religion.

Muslims represent about 9 per cent of the population of 21 million inhabitants. About 70 per cent are Buddhist, 13 per cent Hindus, and 7.4 per cent Christian.

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