Muslims close Sri Lanka mosque after Buddhist unrest

COLOMBO, August 12, 2013 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s Muslim leaders closed down a new mosque in Colombo on Monday after attacks by a Buddhist mob revived simmering religious tensions and sparked US concern. The Sri Lanka Muslim Council said it had agreed to shut its Grandpass mosque and move to an older place of worship which the government had earlier earmarked for demolition as part of the city’s development.

“We have a compromise deal worked out last night,” Council President N. M. Ameen told AFP.

“The government will rescind the order acquiring the old mosque premises and will grant more land and help with renovations and improvements.”

“From today, we are out of the new mosque.”

Buddhist-led mobs vandalised the new mosque, including pelting stones at the building in Colombo’s Grandpass area on Saturday, wounding at least four people. Sporadic clashes also erupted on Sunday despite a heavy police presence in the neighbourhood.

Local Buddhists had objected to the setting up of the new Grandpass mosque near a Buddhist temple even though it was built to replace the older mosque earmarked for demolition in line with city works.

A night curfew was lifted at dawn on Monday, a po