Sri Lanka Muslims pray at vandalized mosques

1 / 3
Sri Lankan Muslim men pray during Friday noon prayers at a mosque in Colombo on May 17, 2019. (AFP)
2 / 3
Sri Lankan Muslim men pray during Friday noon prayers at a mosque in Colombo on May 17, 2019. (AFP)
3 / 3
A Sri Lankan security personnel stands guard outside a mosque in Colombo on May 17, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 17 May 2019

Sri Lanka Muslims pray at vandalized mosques

  • Clerics said some of the damaged mosques cleared out glass shards and other debris and conducted services with attendance at a high level
  • Local residents said Buddhists and Catholic priests were also present as a sign of solidarity with Muslims community

COLOMBO: Sri Lanka’s minority Muslims attended Friday prayers as heavily armed troops and police guarded all mosques, including those badly vandalized in riots in the wake of the Easter terror attacks.
Police said security would remain tight over the weekend for a major Buddhist festival as well as the 10th anniversary of the ending of the country’s decades-long Tamil separatist war.
Clerics said some of the damaged mosques cleared out glass shards and other debris and conducted services with attendance at a high level.
“We had about 450 to 500 people,” M. I. M. Siddeeque, the trustee of the riot-hit Kinyama mosque in the worst affected North-Western Province told AFP by telephone.
“There were six soldiers outside the mosques and many more police at the top of the road.”
Siddeeque said his mosque was cleared of the debris, but windows, furniture and the public address system were yet to be replaced.
In the town of Minuwangoda, the faithful packed the first floor of the two-storyed Hujjaj mosque to pray even though repairs were yet to begin.
Local residents said Buddhists and Catholic priests were also present as a sign of solidarity with Muslims community.
Police said there were no major incidents although sporadic clashes were reported from a handful of places.
“Police are firmly in control and the situation is fast returning to normality,” a senior police official told AFP. A nationwide night curfew was lifted Thursday.
The riots came three weeks after suicide bomb attacks on three churches and three luxury hotels in Colombo, killing 258 people. The April 21 attacks were blamed on a local extremist group.
This weekend Sri Lanka celebrates Vesak which marks the birth, enlightenment and the passing of the Buddha over 2,500 years ago on Saturday and Sunday.
The most important Buddhist celebration coincides this year with the country marking a decade since ending a 37-year-separatist by annihilating the entire leadership of Tamil Tiger guerrillas.
The head of the Tamil Tigers, Velupillai Prabhakaran was killed 10 years ago Saturday while the government declared an end to the war a day later.
President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe are due to attend several ceremonies in and around Colombo on Sunday to pay tribute to over 28,000 security personnel who died during the nearly four-decade-long war.
The minority Tamil community too is expected on Saturday to pay tribute to their war dead, including Tiger rebels at low-key ceremonies in the northeastern district of Mullaittivu where the final battles were fought.
Army chief Mahesh Senanayake said security forces will not obstruct any war remembrance by the Tamils. Under the previous regime, any war remembrance by Tamils was outlawed.


US ‘cloud’ supremacy has Europe worried about data

Updated 1 min 31 sec ago

US ‘cloud’ supremacy has Europe worried about data

PARIS: Europe is sitting on a wealth of data that is the 21st century equivalent of a precious metal mine during the gold rush.
But instead of exploiting it themselves Europeans may be allowing American tech giants to gain control of all the excavation equipment, some experts say, pointing to a flurry of European companies announcing deals with US tech players for cloud services.
Renault, Orange, Deutsche Bank, and Lufthansa recently plumped for Google Cloud. Volkswagen signed up with Amazon Web Services. The French health ministry chose Microsoft to house its research data.
The cloud is a term for offering data storage and processing services externally so clients don’t need to invest as much in costly gear.
This trend has sparked concern particularly in Germany, which has a rich trove of data thanks to its powerful industrial sector.
The EU is “losing its influence in the digital sphere at the moment it is taking a central role in the continent’s economy” warned a recent report by a group of experts and media leaders under the leadership of the former head of German software firm SAP, Henning Kagermann.
“The majority of European data is stocked outside of Europe, or, if stocked in Europe, is on servers that belong to non-European firms,” it noted.

A senior French official recently delivered an even more blunt assessment in a meeting with IT professionals.
“We have an enormous security and sovereignty issue with clouds” said the official at the meeting, which AFP attended on the condition of respecting the anonymity of participants.
“In many cases it is convenience or a sellout” by European companies and institutions “because it is simpler” to sign up with US tech giants than find European options, said the official.
“However we have very good firms offering cloud and data services,” he added.
One of the causes of concern for Europeans comes from the Cloud Act, a piece of legislation adopted in 2018 that gives US intelligence agencies access in certain cases to data hosted by US firms, no matter where the server may be physically located.
“My company is American and I know very well what the implications are of the legislation,” said a Franco-American executive.
“And given what is happening in US policy debates, that situation won’t be getting better.”
Beyond the integrity of data, it is the capacity to analyze and exploit that information that worries many European experts and policymakers.

If in Europe “we are just capable of generating data and need others to exploit it then we are going to end up in the same situation as countries with mineral resources that rely on others to process it and end up with meagre economic benefits,” said the French official.
The French and Germans unveiled in June the GAIA-X project that aims to develop a competitive European cloud offer.
Rather than encourage the development of a European champion — in the mold of Airbus in response to Boeing — that would offer the full gamut of services, the project takes a different tack.
It aims to set standards so different firms could offer storage, processing, security and artificial intelligence services seamlessly. It would operate as a marketplace of sorts where each client could find the services they need without having to leave European jurisdiction.
It is hoped GAIA-X’s decentralized model might prove a better fit with the issues raised by treatment of data from connected devices.