Sri Lankan government urged to lift block on social media

COLOMBO, Sri Lanka (AP) — After a week-long shutdown of popular social media networks, journalists and rights activists are demanding the Sri Lankan government lift the censorship after anti-Muslim violence.

Freddie Gamage of the Professional Web Journalists' Association said the government could have used existing laws to prevent spreading of hate speech and punished those instigating violence, instead of blocking sites such as Facebook, Instagram, Viber and WhatsApp.

He said the government action is unacceptable and a move toward a censorship of the media.

The government ordered a state of emergency last week and shut down popular social media networks to block the spread of rumors leading to tensions and attacks.

The tactic came after religious violence flared anew with Buddhist mobs sweeping through towns and villages, burning Muslim homes and businesses and leaving victims barricaded inside mosques.