COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan police on Saturday declared a curfew in the capital, Colombo, to prevent possible religious clashes after a Buddhist mob threw rocks and vandalized a mosque, injuring at least seven worshippers.
A trustee for the mosque in Colombo, A. Hameed, said that four of the seven worshippers hurt in the attack on Masjid Deenul Islam have been hospitalized.
Police spokesman Buddika Siriwardena said two police officers were injured while trying to prevent clashes between the Buddhist mob and Muslim youth who gathered to defend the mosque.
The attack comes amid a growing anti-Muslim campaign by Buddhist nationalist groups who consider Muslims, who make up nine percent of the island nation’s 20 million population, to be a threat to the political and economic well-being of the 70 percent ethnic Sinhalese-Buddhists.
“There is a limit to our patience, there is no point regretting if this breaks out into a major clash. But some fools do not understand this,” said Mohamed Miflal, a Muslim community worker. “I ask the authorities give us enough protection.”
Buddhist nationalist groups complain that Muslims are dominating businesses and are conspiring to take over the country demographically by increasing their birthrate and secretly sterilizing Sinhalese.
Since September 2011 more than 30 attacks on Muslim-owned businesses have been reported.