BY TAIWO FAROTIMI
Authorities in Sri Lanka, the Asian Island that witnessed terror attacks last month have decided to freeze social media interactions in the country. The step is a fresh initiative aimed at arresting the growing discontent following the April attacks.
Reports have it that while the security sector continues investigations, there have been exchanges among citizens on social media that tend to inflame passion over security concerns there. Already there have been attacks on mosques and Muslim homes and shops in the western district of Kurunegala. The situation is compounded by the insistence of the Buddhist district that some men who were arrested by the police in connection with the attack on Muslim buildings be released.
And because the fresh attacks also occurred at nighttime, the police also extended curfew in Kurunegala on Monday. Sumith Atapattu, spokesman for the military said, “To control the situation, a police curfew was imposed during the night”. It was also extended to the villages in order to restore order to the area.
The small Muslim community in the country has complained of harassment of its members since the April attack that claimed over 200 lives. A spokesman of the Muslim community claimed that authorities prevented members from confronting the attackers, advising them to take shelter in the mosque. By the time irate mob left, windows and doors of the mosque as well as seven motorcycles in the premises had been spoilt. Perhaps the officials were trying to prevent another calamity. This is because the Muslims are a fraction of the 30% of the population comprising Muslims, Christians and Hindus. Buddhists make 70% of the 22 million population. The officials perhaps assumed that the Muslims could be outnumbered were the conflict allowed to escalate.
The attacks followed request by some Buddhist monks that the mosques be searched by the security, after the military had searched the 105-acre pond nearby. The monks’ request comes after some inflammatory exchanges on social media led to the arrest of one Abdul Hameed Mohammed Hasmar, author of a curious comment on Facebook. Hasmar is said to have posted in response to some conversion on the social media a comment that sent panic even to the security. He reportedly wrote “1 day u will cry”.
The comment was interpreted to imply a threat of violence. Now, the Sri Lanka authorities would not allow another round of carpeting after some top government officials were sacked for failure to act on security reports ahead of the April deadly attacks that left over 200 dead, about 450 wounded and churches and hotels in ruins.
Though the ban on social media networks and messaging apps are said to be temporary, no timeframe was given for the order which was issued after an attack on Sunday was traced to a dispute on Facebook.