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Three Muslim men arrested over Mannar Catholic shrine attack

Three Muslim men were arrested last week following an attack on a Catholic shrine in Mannar.

A roadside shrine to Saint Michael Sammanasu (Angel) in Tharavan Kottai, Ezhuthoor was found with its protective glass shattered and the icon of the saint smashed last Sunday morning.

The attack took place in the context of a dispute over a plot of land belonging to the Catholic Church in Thoddaveli, an area which has seen demographic change from predominantly Catholic to majority Muslim through purchases and settlements.

The Church’s attempts to erect a fence were initially being prevented by local Muslims, even after the Church obtained a court order allowing the fencing.

Although the Church eventually succeeded two weeks earlier in putting up a fence with the protection of police and the local land registrar, the fence was destroyed the same night.

The attack on the Saint Michael shrine took place during Mass the following Sunday with stones also being thrown at the Church.

Locals identified the perpetrators and police arrested three Muslim men on Monday 10th July, keeping them on remand for seven days.

The Parish priest of Thoddaveli told Tamil Guardian that tensions between the two communities lingered as locals await updates on the case.

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