Muslim cleric wanted for airing extremist views arrested by Sri Lankan authorities

Muslim cleric wanted for airing extremist views arrested by Sri Lankan authorities

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COLOMBO: A 47-year old Muslim cleric wanted by the Sri Lankan security forces for using social media platform to air extremist views has been arrested at the Bandaranaike International Airport, a media report said.

The cleric, whose identity has not been disclosed, was wanted for releasing videos in a manner that harms reconciliation in the country and has been remanded till May 14 reported.

The suspect, a resident of Vavuniya, was arrested on Saturday at the airport after his arrival from Mecca after performing Hajj.

The suspect had been organizing pilgrimage tours to Mecca, the paper reported.

The arrest of the cleric came days after the Sri Lankan government said the trustees of all the mosques in the country should not engage in or allow any gathering to promote or propagate hatred and also directed them to send the audio recordings of the sermons to authorities.

The government’s order was after security forces recovered swords and other weapons from mosques during search operations following the April 21 bomb blasts in which over 250 people, including 44 foreigners 10 of whom were Indians, were killed and 500 others injured.

Security has been beefed up across Sri Lanka after the Easter Sunday attacks on three churches, two of them Catholic, and three luxury hotels.

The Islamic State claimed responsibility for the attack, but the government has blamed local Islamist extremist group, the National Thawheed Jama’ath (NTJ), for the bombings.

The security forces are conducting round the clock security operations since the attack in the crackdown on radical Muslims with links to the bombings.

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