Religious tension rises in Sri Lanka amid mosque attacks | News | DW | 11.08.2013
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Religious tension rises in Sri Lanka amid mosque attacks

Sri Lankan police have lifted a curfew in a neighborhood in the capital Colombo after an attack on a mosque by a Buddhist mob. However, the Muslim minority fears further trouble.

Hundreds of police remain on alert in the Grandpass district of the Sri Lankan capital, Colombo, following the attack on the local mosque by some 100 Buddhists during evening prayers, in which at least four people were wounded.

"The curfew was lifted this morning, but we have a strong presence in the area," a police spokesman said.

After the attack, scores of Muslim residents took to the streets, some carrying sticks, to prevent any more attacks, witnesses said. Police reinforcements were sent and the curfew was imposed.

All four people injured in the attack, including two police, remained in hospital Sunday.

Rising violence

The president of the Sri Lanka Muslim Council, NM Ameen, said that although police had been present during the attack, they had failed to intervene, calling this "a blatant violation of the fundamental rights of Muslims in Sri Lanka."

Ameen said more than 20 mosques had been attacked since last year. In March, two Muslim-owned businesses just outside the capital were torched amid rising anti-Islamic sentiment.

The violence in Sri Lanka echoes that in Myanmar, which has also seen a rising tide of attacks on minority Muslims by members of the Buddhist majority.

The mosque damaged in the Saturday night attack was only built a month ago after hardline Buddhists forced a nearby mosque to close.

The campaign against other religions is being led by the group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or the "Buddhist power force," which is headed by Buddhist monks.

They describe themselves as "patriotic forces" representing the interests of the Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka.

Buddhists make up 70 percent of the Sri Lankan population of 20.3 million, while Muslims make up just 9 percent.

tj/hc (AFP, AP, Reuters)