08/12/2013, 00.00
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Sri Lanka: Government shuts mosque after Buddhist monk violence

by Melani Manel Perera
On 9 and 10 August, a mob led by Buddhist religious leaders attacked the Muslim community of Colombo, throwing stones at the mosque and makeshift homes. Five people were injured. The police impose a curfew, but fails to quell violence. Muslim Council of Sri Lanka: "The non-intervention by police is a clear violation of the rights of Muslims in the country."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Grandpass mosque in Colombo (Sri Lanka) has been shut down after the violent attack by some Buddhist monks during the Id al-Fitr, the holiday that celebrates the end of Ramadan. The authorities carried out the order yesterday evening, agreeing to the demands of the attackers who want the place of worship dismantled. The local Islamic community immediately protested accusing the government and police of not having arrested the perpetrators of the attack. Five people were injured in the violence.

For some time the ancient mosque of the district of Grandpass, the capital, has been closed for renovations. For this reason, the local Islamic community has held their regular prayer services in a temporary mosque set up in the same area.

On 9 August, however, while the Muslims were engaged in the Friday prayers, a group of people led by Buddhist monks began to throw stones at the faithful, demanding they leave. Warned of the attack, the police arrived on the scene and imposed a curfew until the following morning. Rather than improve the situation, the day after it degenerated into new conflicts.

As shown by CCTV cameras, a crowd of people - led by Buddhist monks - again attacked the mosque and nearby homes of Muslims. The government sent a special task force to disperse the attackers and secure the mosque.

Yesterday evening the meeting between Buddhist and Muslim religious leaders and government representatives - to try and find a solution to the problem- was resolved with the decision to find a new provisional mosque by the end of the month.

"The attack on the mosque - said the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka - occurred in the presence of numerous security agents and police officers. Their failure to act is a clear violation of fundamental rights of Muslims in Sri Lanka, which moreover creates a dangerous precedent for future violence. "

The attack feeds a climate of growing religious intolerance perpetrated by some radical groups-Sinhalese Buddhists, who have been targeting the Muslim community and - to a lesser extent - the Christian one.


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