Kurunegala Magistrate’s Court has granted bail to a Muslim doctor, Mohamed Shafi, who was falsely accused of having sterilised over 4,000 Sinhala women.
Safi was given bail of 2.5 million rupees after a five-hour court hearing.
His defence lawyer, Faris Saly, that when he was initially arrested in May, the judge found “no reason to refuse bail”.
Nationalist Buddhist monks and other locals had crowded outside of the court to demand his continued detention. They allege that Muslims are seeking to spread influence by maintaining a higher birth rate and hampering the birthrate of Sinhala Buddhists.
Supporters of Safi have maintained that the accusations are spurious and are founded on inter-communal tensions. His arrest followed the tragic Easter Sunday bombing which took over 250 lives and was blames on Islamist militants. Following the bombings a nationalist newspaper, Divaina, ran a front-page story accusing an unidentified doctor of sterilising as many as 4,000 women after performing cesarean deliveries.
In late February to early March 2018, similar rumours were circulated on Facebook of a Muslim restaurant hiding sterilisation pills in the food they served to the Sinhala majority. This lead to anti-Muslim pogroms in which Muslim citizens, their property and mosques were attacked and state forces were seen to have been involved.