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Fresh tensions at Grandpass

2013 Aug 12

Mobs gathered at Grandpass this afternoon resulting a fresh tensions near a mosque which came under attack last night.

Riot police and the Special Task Force were deployed to strengthen security around the mosque and disperse mobs gathering on the streets.

A meeting was also held at the Religious Affairs Ministry to reach a solution to the issue.

Government Ministers Champika Ranawaka, Rishard Baduhudeen and Deputy Minister Faizer Mustapha visited the location and met members of the Muslim and Sinhala communities separately to discuss their concerns.

Buddhist monks and their supporters are demanding that the temporary mosque be relocated but Muslims in the area are refusing to budge.

CCTV footage showed mobs led by monks attack the mosque last night and some nearby Muslim houses. Muslims retaliated and a few Sinhalese houses were attacked.

The US Embassy in Colombo also issued a statement expressing concerns on the attack on the Grandpass Mosque last night.

“This incident is particularly troubling in light of a number of recent attacks against the Muslim community in Sri Lanka. Targeting any place of worship should never be permitted and we urge calm from all sides.  We call for prosecution of perpetrators in this attack and an end to religious-based violence.  The right of all Sri Lankans to practice the religion of their choice should be protected,” the Embassy said.

The Muslim Council of Sri Lanka (MCSL) meanwhile condemned unequivocally the blatant attack on the mosque in Grandpass by some “racist elements” while the Muslims were engaged in prayer yesterday.

“We call upon His Excellency the President of Sri Lanka to immediately order the Police and the Defense Authorities to maintain law and order and bring the perpetrators to justice without prejudice or favor. This attack on the mosque has taken place in the presence of a large number of Police personnel including some senior police officials. Their failure to intervene is a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of Muslims in Sri Lanka. This can also set a dangerous precedent for future violence and lawlessness in the country,” the Muslim Council said.

The Council also said that it is regrettable that the hate speeches and hate campaigns continue to grow unabated.

“The Muslims and their leadership have shown great restraint amidst numerous provocations by a number of extremist groups in Anuradhapura, Dambulla, Balangoda, Mahiyangana and several other locations during the past several months,” the Muslim Council said.

It warned that failure on the part of the Police to ensure law and order will result in further violence and drag the country in to another period of turmoil. (Colombo Gazette)

Report by Easwaran Rutnam

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