Gota orders stern action against spread of religious hatred on social media

monks-and-gothaDefence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa today said that he has ordered security authorities to take stern action against those who espouse racial and religious hatred using social media.

Sri Lanka has seen a recent spike in the spread of religious hatred through social media websites such as Facebook, in the wake of recent clashes in Aluthgama and Beruwala.

Authorities had stated that various rumors and false information being spread through text messages and certain anti-Muslim and anti-Buddhist Facebook accounts had only worsened the already unstable situation in the country.

Meanwhile Buddhist activists accused of alleged involvement in violence against Sri Lanka’s Muslims said on Friday that accounts of their group’s members on social media site Facebook had been blocked.

“My account is blocked,” Bodu Bala Sena spokesman Dilantha Vithanage was quoted as saying by Reuters. “I can’t access my account. I last visited my account on June 25 and the accounts of others have also been blocked.”

Ven Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the BBS general secretary, also said his account had been blocked. “I have created another account,” he said.

A Facebook spokesman in London declined to comment on any action taken by the company in Sri Lanka and referred Reuters to its terms of service.

Clashes erupted on June 15 in Aluthgama and Beruwela, two towns with large Muslim populations on the southern coast, during a protest march led by the hardline group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or “Buddhist Power Force”.

The Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Response Team (SLCERT) says that no concrete action could be taken against those who spread religious and racial hatred on Facebook and that the popular social media website’s terms of use have prevented authorities from taking any action regarding this issue