Nationalist Riots

COLOMBO, June 22, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lankan police announced Sunday they were tightening security in the capital after local media, in a rare show of unity, condemned them for failing to control Buddhist extremists behind deadly anti-Muslim riots. The UNP has accused the country’s powerful defence secretary and president’s younger brother, Gotabhaya Rajapakse, of backing the BBS.

Gotabhaya Rajapakse had opened a Buddhist cultural centre at the southern town of Galle in March last year in the company of BBS leaders, while President Mahinda Rajapakse opened a Buddhist centre with a BBS leader in Colombo in April 2011.

Justice Minister Hakeem has strongly criticised the BBS and has asked the president to order an independent probe into last week’s riots targeting Muslims, who account for some 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s population of 20 million.

Hakeem, in a statement issued on Saturday night, blamed the government for failing to control the BBS, which last year led a successful campaign to take halal certification off food sold to non-Muslims in the majority-Buddhist nation.

“Irrespective of who is responsible for the terrible events that unfolded… none would dispute that it was a serious dislocation of the ability of the state to