Sri Lanka Presidential Commission to probe anti-Muslim nationalist violence

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Deadly communal clashes erupted in Kandy on Sunday evening after a road rage incident left a 41-year-old Sinhala Buddhist man dead after being attacked by a group of people on Feb 22.

On March 6, Sri Lanka's government declared a nationwide 10-day state of emergency as mob attacks targeted the country's Muslim minorities. Most Muslim-owned businesses in the country remained shut as troops remained on high alert to prevent any untoward incidents after Friday prayers.

Prayers were said in open grounds in many places because mosques had been burnt or vandalised.

Muslims in Kandy complained that security forces and police - equipped with special powers to detain under the emergency provision - were slow to react as the violence unfolded.

The communal violence has also hit the the tourism industry, as a number of foreign cancelled their visits. Sri Lanka's leadership must rise to the challenge.

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Saying that Islamophobic narratives were flaming communal violence, Keenan noted that extremist Buddhist elements were fostered openly by the former regime, resulting in a direct increase of violence against the Muslim minority. However, the Central Province Education Ministry today said that schools will reopen on Monday.

A daytime curfew within Kandy city's limits was relaxed Thursday morning in a sign of improving conditions, only to be re-imposed in the afternoon as communal violence claimed a third life within a week.

The International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) on Thursday called on the Sri Lankan government to act switfly to ensure those responsible for anti-Muslim violence in Kandy are prosecuted.

In the capital Colombo too, Muslim-owned businesses remained closed.

Troops guarded every junction while security personnel carried out patrols on motorcycles and in armoured personnel carriers.

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However, in some areas, Sinhalese have helped Muslims to protect mosques, Muslim community leaders told Reuters.

The Kandy region is about 115 kilometres from Colombo.

A group of radical Buddhists monks are facing prosecution for their alleged role in anti-Muslim violence in 2014 that left four people dead.

Some Buddhist nationalists have protested against the presence in Sri Lanka of Muslim Rohingya asylum-seekers from mostly Buddhist Myanmar, where Buddhist nationalism has also been on the rise.

Almost 75 percent of Sri Lankans belong to the majority Sinhalese community while Tamils make up another 13 percent.

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This is unedited, unformatted feed from the Press Trust of India wire.

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