“The Sri Lankan government has temporarily banned the use of social media networks, including Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.
A 10-day nationwide state of emergency was declared in Sri Lanka on Tuesday amid increased violence between Muslim and Buddhist communities.
The unrest began on Saturday, when a Sinhalese Buddhist truck driver was injured after he was attacked by a group of Muslim mobs in Kandy. The driver died of his injuries the next day.
Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, which had reportedly been monitoring social media for hate speech related to the violence, has temporarily blocked Facebook, Viber, WhatsApp, and Instagram in most parts of the country.
Sinhalese Buddhist mobs attacked several mosques,Muslim-owned shops and businesses in the central district of Kandy. The body of a young Muslim man who was trapped when fire burned down his parents’s small shop was found by firefighters Tuesday.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesing he condemned the “racist and violent acts” on Twitter Tuesday. “As a nation that endured a brutal war we are all aware of the values of peace, respect, unity & freedom,” he wrote.
Sri Lanka remains deeply divided along religious and ethnic lines since the end of the 36-year civil war in 2009, when government forces crushed an insurgency by the ethnic Tamil minority seeking an independent homeland. Hardline Sinhalese Buddhist nationalists have accused Muslims of attacking sacred Buddhist sites and forcing people to convert.
The U.S. Embassy in Colombo urged the government to act quickly against the perpetrators, protect the rights of religious minorities and lift the state of emergency as soon as possible”.