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Sri Lanka to Lift Ban on Facebook, Whatsapp

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Sri Lankan government is likely to lift a ban on major social media networks including Facebook, Whatsapp, Instagram and Viber this week.

The ban was imposed throughout the country on March 7 after week-long violent clashes between Buddhist communities and Muslims that left at least three people dead.

Several mosques and businesses of Muslims were also vandalized by the Buddhist extremists, mainly in central Sri Lanka.

The violence led to the imposition of a 10-day nationwide state of emergency.

The ban was imposed after law enforcement agencies warned that online hate speech was fueling anti-Muslim anger in the country.

Initially, Sri Lanka’s government said that the social media platforms have been blocked for three days, but the ban is still in place after a week.

f438892a-2204The ban was imposed on March 7 after a week-long violent clashes between Buddhist communities and Muslims.

 

Speaking to reporters in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s telecommunication minister Harin Fernando said that the government would lift the ban on Facebook following the visit of companies’ officials to the country on Thursday.

“Once we discuss with the Facebook officials on Thursday, the ban is likely to be lifted on Friday,” he said.

He, however, regretted that Facebook has been ‘slow’ in addressing government’s concerns.

“Facebook has told us that they lack the resources to review our complaints,” he said.

He said during the discussion with Facebook officials the government will seek assurances from the company that a rapid action would be taken if similar concerns are raised in future.

“We have seen the destruction due to Facebook messages. We have requested the Facebook to help us to stop hate speech and the problems those messages have created,” he said.

Muslims make up roughly nine percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million population. Most of them are Sinhalese and live in the centre and east of the island.

The worst-hit region from violence was central district Kandy, where three people were killed early in the month when Buddisht nationalists attacked mosques and Muslim-owned properties following the killing of a Buddhist driver.

The fresh wave of violence further began when some Buddhist radical groups accused Muslims of forcefully converting the people to Islam.

The government, meanwhile, in a separate statement said that ban on Viber would be lifted late on Tuesday.