Following tensions sparked by a mob attack on a mosque near Colombo on Saturday, Muslim groups on Monday closed down that mosque and said they would soon move to an older mosque.
Muslims in and around Grandpass, a suburb in Colombo, had moved to the new mosque since the older one was small and did not allow for expansion. A Bo Tree, considered a religious symbol in Buddhism, on the premises could not be cut to make way for expansion. Moreover, the Urban Development Ministry was to take over the mosque for development work. The issue was to be addressed soon after Id.
On Saturday, however, a Buddhist group vandalised the new mosque, pelted it with stones and broke the glass windows, leaving at least five persons injured. Despite heavy police and Special Task Force presence since then, the situation in the neighbourhood remained tense.
The threat of a clash in the locality, where the government had imposed a curfew for two days, led to a meeting of leaders representing different groups and they arrived at a compromise.
President of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka N.M. Ameen said the government would rescind the order acquiring the old mosque premises and would allocate more land to carry out renovation work in future. “They [the government] have already started cutting the Bo Tree on the premises to make some way,” he told The Hindu on Monday.