Sri Lanka blocks social media following anti-Muslim riots

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Sri Lanka has blocked Facebook, WhatsApp and other social media platforms after anti-Muslim riots hit several towns in the latest fallout from the Easter Sunday suicide attacks.

Christian groups attacked Muslim-owned shops in a sign of the continued religious tension in Sri Lanka.

The April 21st attacks by suicide bombers on three hotels and three churches left 258 dead.

A state of emergency has been in place since the bombings which the Islamic State group has claimed responsibility.

Dozens of people have been detained since the attacks. Amid the heightened security, police have banned parking near schools and students are allowed in after been checked for explosives.

Since the bombings, Muslim groups say they have received dozens of complaints about people being harassed.

There was glass everywhere at the Abrar mosque in the Muslim-majority town of Kiniyama that was attacked overnight. All the windows and doors of the soft-pink building were smashed and copies of the Quran were thrown onto the floor.

Seven bikes parked outside were damaged.

A mosque official said the attacks were triggered when several people, including some Buddhist monks, demanded a search of the main building after soldiers had inspected a 105-acre (43-hectare) pond nearby.

“When Muslims tried to prevent the attack, we were asked by police to go inside,” the official said.

Authorities imposed a temporary ban on social media networks and messaging apps after a clash in another part of the country was traced to a dispute on Facebook.

Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a man was beaten in the Christian-majority town of Chi law on the west coast on Sunday in the dispute that started on Facebook, police sources and residents told Reuters.

Authorities said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identified as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, whose online comment “1 day u will cry” people said was interpreted as threatening violence.

“Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country,” Nalaka Kaluwewa, director general of the government information department, told Reuters on Monday. -Additional reporting by Reuters

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