Sri Lanka Attacks: Govt Restricts Social Media Usage
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Sri Lanka Attacks: Govt Restricts Social Media Usage 

Last updated on May 16th, 2019

In the aftermath of Sri Lanka attacks that took place on April 21 and killed around 258 people, while injuring another 500, the government on Monday announced to temporarily block some of the social media networks and messaging apps.

These temporary bans on social media are an attempt to control the spread of misinformation and rumours. Facebook and WhatsApp would be the first applications to be banned. Although, Sri Lanka’s leading mobile phone operator Dialog claimed to have received commands for blocking other messaging applications such as, Viber, IMO, Snapchat, Instagram and YouTube also. 

“Social media blocked again as a temporary measure to maintain peace in the country,” said Nalaka Kaluwewa, director general of the Department of Government Information.

The citizens of the country seemed discontented by the government’s decision. Many of them resorted to violence throwing stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores, which eventually led to their arrests. The dispute that started amidst the government’s decision to ban the social media sites following the suicide bombings in Colombo and other parts of the country, also led to the beating of a man in the town of Chilaw on the west coast on Sunday.

In the wake of anti-Muslim unrest, the authorities arrested Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar, author of a Facebook post, for his online comment, which was identified to be aggravating the existing violence in the country.

“1 day u will cry”, commented the 38-year-old Hasmar.  

Even weeks after the Sri Lanka attacks, the Muslim groups in the country are the accused ones. Many have been blaming them for the mass deaths, subjecting them to harassment. While the Muslims seek a better life despite the continuous security threats, many other communities have criticised the government for its failure in halting the rising Islamic threats in the country.

Sumith Atapattu, Military spokesperson, asserted that most of the Buddhist population in Sri Lanka has demanded the release of the arrested men. In order to control the situation of mass unrest, police imposed curfew in Rasnayakapura and Kobeigane areas in the Kurunegala District, effective immediately.

Following the continuous violent acts since the Sri Lanka attacks, the citizens have become fearful of their lives. Thereby, imposing ban on social media sites is the first step by the Sri Lankan government to protect its citizens. Whether this measure would help in improving the existing crisis in the country remains uncertain.

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