Mosques attacked in Sri Lanka town after Facebook row, curfew imposed

Sri Lankan security personnel stand guard after clashes erupted between Christian and Muslim communities in Negombo. (File/AFP)
Updated 12 May 2019

Mosques attacked in Sri Lanka town after Facebook row, curfew imposed

  • One mosque suffered extensive damage
  • “A police curfew has been imposed in Chilaw Police area with immediate effect until 6 a.m. tomorrow to control the tense situation,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera said

COLOMBO: Several dozen people threw stones at mosques and Muslim-owned stores and a local man was beaten in the town of Chilaw on Sri Lanka’s west coast on Sunday in a dispute that started on Facebook, sources told Reuters.
Three weeks ago in Sri Lanka extremist bombers blew themselves up in four hotels and three churches, killing more than 250 people. Since then Muslim groups say they have received dozens of complaints from across the country about people being harassed.
“A police curfew has been imposed in Chilaw Police area with immediate effect until 6 a.m. tomorrow to control the tense situation,” police spokesman Ruwan Gunasekera told Reuters. The police later said the curfew would be lifted at 4 a.m.
A screenshot of the alleged Facebook exchange seen by Reuters showed a user had written in Sinhalese “It is difficult to make us cry” and added a local slur against Muslim men.
A Facebook user identified as Hasmar Hameed, whom two locals said was the man later arrested, replied in English: “Dont laugh more 1 day u will cry.”
Authorities said they arrested the author of a Facebook post, identifying him as 38-year-old Abdul Hameed Mohamed Hasmar. Locals in Chilaw, a majority Christian town, said Hasmar’s post was interpreted as menacing and an angry crowd beat him.
Reuters was unable to determine what the original conversation was about or to contact Hasmar for comment.
“Later they pelted stones at three mosques and some Muslim-owned shops. Now the situation has calmed down, but we are scared of the night,” said one local Muslim man who asked to remain anonymous for security reasons.
One mosque suffered extensive damage, he said. Video footage circulating online shows several dozen young men shouting and throwing stones at a clothes store called New Hasmars, which locals said belonged to Hasmar.
Some communities say they are fearful that the government, which failed to act on successive warnings about looming extremist attacks, has not caught all potential militants.
A week ago in Negombo, where more than 100 people were killed during Easter prayers, a violent clash erupted between local Muslims and Christians after a traffic dispute.
Unlike after the Negombo clashes, the Sri Lankan government did not impose a ban on social media platforms on Sunday.


Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

Updated 25 August 2019

Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan targeted by new rape complaint

  • A woman in her 50s accused Ramadan of raping her along with a member of his staff
  • He has been charged in France with raping two women previously

PARIS: Tariq Ramadan, a leading Islamic scholar charged in France with raping two women, has also been accused of taking part in the gang rape of a journalist, French judicial sources said Sunday.
The sources confirmed reports on Europe 1 radio and in Le Journal du Dimanche newspaper that a woman in her 50s had accused Ramadan, 56, of raping her along with a member of his staff when she went to interview the academic at a hotel in Lyon in May 2014.
The woman, who filed a criminal complaint in May 2019, also accused Ramadan of issuing “threats or acts of intimidation” aimed at dissuading her from reporting the alleged attack to the police, the judicial sources added.
Ramadan, a married father of four whose grandfather founded Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood, was a professor at Oxford University until he was forced to take leave when rape allegations surfaced at the height of the “Me Too” movement in late 2017.
He has denied charges he raped a disabled woman in 2009 and a feminist activist in 2012.
He was taken into custody in February 2018 and held for nine months before being granted bail.
Authorities in Switzerland are also investigating him after receiving a rape complaint in that country.
His lawyer, Emmanuel Marsigny, refused to comment Sunday on the latest allegations against him in France.
The woman behind the latest complaint told police that Ramadan and a male assistant repeatedly raped her in Ramadan’s room at the Sofitel hotel in Lyon.
She described the alleged attack as being of “untold violence” and claimed that when she threatened to report them to the police Ramadan replied: “You don’t know how powerful I am.”
She also claimed that Ramadan had contacted her via the Messenger app in January, two months after his release from jail, saying that he wanted to make her an “offer” of a “professional nature,” without giving details.