Religious rifts in Sri Lanka’s Dambulla area, not affecting tourists

May 01, 2012 (LBO) – Foreign visitors continue to tour Sri Lanka’s central regions, despite ongoing religious tensions where Buddhist monks have demanded a 60-year-old mosque be relocated, a tourism industry lobby said. Hakeem alleged that “extremist forces” were trying to stir trouble, to fan religious tensions across the island that is emerging after the end of nearly four decades of ethnic bloodshed.

“A strong government must protect the weaker minorities,” Hakeem said. “We appeal to the government to ensure that they do not allow xenophobic forces to hold the country hostage.”

Sri Lanka is recovering from near 40-year ethnic war which ended in May 2009. In 1983 the state failed to protect thousands of minority Tamils who perished in ethnic riots, in landmark breakdown of rule of law and justice.

Sri Lankan citizens have taken up arms against the state three times, the Sinhalese majority twice and the Tamil minority once as the country was buffeted from both state intervention and nationalism.

“It’s not that much of an issue yet,” Nilmin Nanayakkara, president of the Sri Lanka Association of Inbound Tour Operators (SLAITO) told reporters.

The central regions which hosts some of the island