Social media platforms like Facebook have been used to incite violence against Muslims.
The government of Sri Lanka has announced a nationwide state of emergency on Tuesday, following attacks by the Buddhists on the minority Muslim community in the central district of Kandy. It began on Sunday as an angry mob, predominantly composed of the Sinhalese ethnic group, targeted Muslim houses and business establishments, and at least one mosque.
There has been an increasing tension between these two communities in recent years, with Buddhist extremists accusing Muslims of forcing people to change their faith to Islam.
As reported by Reuters, the Muslim community has also been targeted for reportedly vandalizing significant Buddhist sites.
As part of the nationwide state of emergency announced on Tuesday, the Sri Lankan government has blocked access to Facebook and communications apps like Viber and WhatsApp.
Given the situation in Kandy, blocking access to social media was considered the right thing, according to Aleksey Kuprianov, a senior research fellow at the Institute of World Economy and International Relations. He told RT:
“It allowed to minimize the damage because the coordination [of the riots] was carried mainly through the internet.”
National Front for Good Governance party secretay Najah Mohamed told Al Jazeera that the violence has spread all over the country and hate against Muslims is rampant.
Following the deadly riots that occured in Aluthgama in June 2014, the government has launched an anti-Muslim campaign. After taking the presidential seat in 2015, President Maithripala Siresena had vowed to investigate crimes committed against the minority group. However, no significant result has been seen.
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