The Sri Lankan government has set up a police hotline to report for Muslims to report harassment, as the community comes under increasing attack in the wake of the Isil-linked Easter Sunday bombings.
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Multiple suicide attacks targeted churches and luxury hotels on Easter Sunday, leaving 258 people dead, including 42 foreign nationals. The attackers later released a video pledging allegiance to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.
Sri Lankan authorities on Friday said investigators were still trying to establish how deep those contacts were.
An Islamic Affairs ministry spokesman told The Telegraph that there have been “hundreds of calls every day” reporting incidents of hate and violence against Muslims since the attacks, especially against women wearing headscarves, or the abaya robe.
“Unfortunately the Muslim community is being harassed and targeted for actions committed by few individuals,” said Mufti Mohamed Rizwe, president of All Ceylon Jamiathul Ulema (ACJU), a governing Muslim body.
A spokesman of ACJU told The Telegraph that “a serious anti-Muslim oppression is going on now.”
There are some 2 million Muslims in Sri Lanka, around 10 per cent of the mostly Buddhist population.
In one incident, parents at a school in Puwakpitiya, some 50 kilometres west of Colombo, reportedly barred entry and threatened Muslim teachers wearing headscarves.
“We are gripped with fear,” Fathima Rahma, an accountant wearing a headscarf told The Telegraph. “I’m afraid to step into supermarkets or banks because I’ve had bad experiences with security guards and staff shouting at me. Uber drivers cancel on me, trishaws don’t stop for me anymore.”
Muslim Uber drivers and businesses are also reporting decline in rides and sales.
A ban on face-covering veils and sweeping house-to-house searches by police and military have also added to the tension.
Over the past week, many Muslims have been arrested for owning toy drones, toy walkie-talkies and in one case a set of “Hadith” books – on the lifestyle of Prophet Muhammed.
Minister of Higher Education Rauf Hakeem said there was a “hidden hand” behind the Easter terror, bent on destabilizing the country.