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Mosque to be demolished after protests

The Kuragala mosque will be demolished and rebuilt at another location, after long-running protests by Sinhala-Buddhist groups.

Sri Lanka’s Minister of Arts and Culture Nandimitra Ekanayake said Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe appointed a committee to investigate the location, which then established that the mosque sat on a Buddhist archaeological site.

“The committee has assembled on April 21 and discussed with the Muslims of the mosque to relocate the mosque in another place since the report produced by the committee has proved that the mosque had been built in an ancient Buddhist Archaeological site,” the minister said.

The government will provide Rs1mn (£5,000) to rebuild the mosque in another location.

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) CEO Dilantha Withanage said there were already two mosques in the area.

“Bodu Bala Sena has been asking it to be removed since the mosque was an illegal construction in the archaeological site,” he said.

Earlier this month members of Sinhala Ravaya protested against the mosque in Kuragala and attempted to reach the site, before being stopped by police.

In February, the BBS said it would destroy the mosque in order to stop “these infidel Muslims” from running riot.

“This is what the West and the United States of America wants. The National Shoora Council was allowed to use the Independence Square on 4 February [Independence Day]. The Kurugla Monastery dating back even before 2nd century BC is a national treasure. We will not allow these infidel Muslims to run riot in Kuragala. The last two years of former president Mahinda Rajapaksa created the environment for Al-Qaida and jihad to thrive,” General Secretary Gnanasara said to media at the time.

New government, old BBS (13 February 2015)

Sinhala Ravaya protest against mosque in Sri Lanka (04 April 2015)

Historic mosque near Trinco destroyed, locals blame army (19 August 2014)

Muslims a threat to Sri Lanka says BBS leader (17 August 2014)

Flagship store of Muslim-owned clothing chain torched (21 June 2014)