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Mar 14, 2018

‘Political leaders have to find a backbone to solve this violent extremism’ Featured

The US media’s having taken up the issue of Sri Lanka’s having blocked the social media is unimportant, says senior journalist Kusal Perera.

He notes that after blocking the social media, purportedly to control racist violence, president Maithripala Sirisena later said it was taken in order for national security.

Perera was making comments to Sri Lanka Mirror with regard to the US media having taken up the issue of the blockade of facebook, instagram, whattsapp and viber following the disturbances in Kandy.

Sinhala Buddhist thugs’ attacking mosques and Muslim businesses becomes a matter of national security only if they carry out the attacks on a foreign contract, he said, adding that there was no evidence yet to indicate as such.

The root cause is the Sinhala Buddhist extremism started by Cyril Mathew, the onetime UNP general secretary who introduced violence at the 1983 Black July and the politics of J.R. Jayewardene, who fully supported it as the then head of state.

Two weeks before the Black July, Jayewardene told Daily Telegraph in London that it was unimportant for him what the Tamils thought and expected, and that Sinhalese were happy if the Tamils went hungry, according to Perera.

JR

Mainstream media took it forward

Thereafter, it was not social media, but the mainstream media that took that violence forward, said the journalist, adding that that not changed in the present too.

Therefore, president Sirisena has spoiled everything by doing what Donald Trump did not try in the US.

Donald trumpt

Sirisena did what Trump didn’t

Blocking social media will not negate Sinhala Buddhist violence.

It is only by banning all such organizations, arresting their leaders and taking them before courts that Sinhala Buddhist extremism can be countered.

There are no Buddhists in this country who will oppose it, Perera said.

Gnanasara Thera received only 5,727 Sinhala Buddhist votes from Kalutara at the 2015 August general election and there wasn’t two dozens of people to carry out a picketing when he got arrested.

Perera went onto say that the country’s political leaders have to find a backbone and solve this violent extremism.

Of the US media, CNBC news reported as follows under the heading ‘Sri Lanka does what US can't: Pull the plug on Facebook over hate speech, fake news’, about what is taking place in Sri Lanka:

Another nation has joined the growing ranks of those saying Facebook's content-filtering systems aren't good enough.

Sri Lanka, faced with online content it says has spurred deadly sectarian violence, this week banned Facebook's social media and messaging services in that country.

By forcing internet service providers to pull the plug on Instagram, WhatsApp and Facebook, the government there hopes to stem the spread of hate speech and fake news it blames for attacks on the country's Muslim minority.

The ban came after several years in which critics have said Facebook and the government there were not doing enough to prevent the spread of such harmful posts.

The move is also a reminder of why ridding social media sites of dangerous content may be hardest here in Facebook's own home country.

Because the U.S. Constitution protects all speech except for threats which attempts to incite imminent violence, the government cannot arbitrarily force Facebook, YouTube (a unit of Alphabet), Twitter or other social media sites off the internet.

In an emailed statement to CNBC, Facebook said:

"We have clear rules against hate speech and incitement to violence and work hard to keep it off our platform. We are responding to the situation in Sri Lanka and are in contact with the government and non-governmental organizations to support efforts to identify and remove such content."

A person familiar with the company's thinking regarding the Sri Lanka situation told CNBC the company believes that restricting access to the internet can deprive people of an important communication tool during a time of crisis and hopes that access will soon be restored soon in the country.

The ban in Sri Lanka came the same week that Germany's new coalition government says it may revise a recently-enacted law to punish internet firms that don't remove hate speech quickly enough.

The law, seen as a test-case in Europe's effort to rein in harmful social media content, has caused some speech to be removed unfairly, critics say.

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