Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) General Secretary Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka criticized the unofficial “news blackout” imposed by the government on mainstream media with regard to Aluthgama and Beruwala clashes saying the move completely backfired on the government, causing enormous harm to the country’s image overseas. “This is the age of social media, of citizen journalism. Nearly everyone has a mobile phone. Around 18 million people in the country are on Facebook.
Information gets out fast. By withholding information, the Government opened the door for so many rumors to float around and the truth got suppressed,” Minister Ranawaka told The Nation. He also added that it was unfortunate that the media, particularly the English language media and citizen journalists on social media, had taken it upon themselves to provide ‘fabricated stories’ to the world regarding the violent incidents that took place recently.
“The events that led up to the violence was distorted by some Muslim politicians, religious leaders, NGOs and media institutions to make it seem as if this was a well-coordinated attack against the Muslim community, which is nothing short of a blatant lie,” he said. He claimed The Nation itself was guilty of reporting ‘misinformation’ that made it seem as if Sinhala Buddhists were the aggressors and Muslims were innocent victims, when the opposite was true. “Those who are eagerly bashing Sinhala Buddhists as ‘racist terrorists’ are conveniently ignoring the rise of Muslim fundamentalism within the country,” the Minister said adding only a balanced picture would give a clear understanding of the issue.
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