The Sri Lankan government on Friday said the trustees of all the mosques in the country should not engage in or allow any gathering to promote or propagate hatred and also directed them to send the audio recordings of the sermons to authorities.
The government’s move came after security forces recovered swords and other weapons from mosques during search operations following the April 21 bomb blasts in which over 250 people, including 44 foreigners 10 of whom were Indians, were killed and 500 others injured.
All trustees of Mosques should not engage in or permit any gathering to promote or propagate hatred or extremism in any form, doing so will result in the Board of Trustees being held fully responsible under may laws including the Penal Code, according to a statement issued by the Ministry of Muslim Religious Affairs.
“In view of the prevailing situation in the country, the Trustees are directed hereby to send audio records all sermons of Jumma (Friday) or otherwise on their Masjids and to forward them to the ministry,” said the statement signed by Muslim Religious Affairs Minister M H A Haleem.
Muslim theologists and civil society organizations have warned radicalisation of Muslims with support from mosques in some places, particularly in the island nation’s eastern province.
Nine suicide bombers carried out a series of devastating blasts that tore through three churches and as many luxury hotels on April 21.
The ISIS terror group claimed the attacks, but the government blamed the local Islamist extremist group National Thawheed Jammath (NTJ) for the bombings. The victims included over 40 foreigners.
Mohamed Cassim Zahran, the mastermind of the blasts and NTJ leader, was running his own mosque in the eastern Kathankudi region, police said, adding that his extreme religious sermons had attracted followers.
Two weeks ago, Zahran’s family members committed suicide by triggering a blast at a safe house in Sainthamuruthu area of Kathankudi following a gun-battle with the security forces.
Police on Friday recovered a stockpile of explosives, belonging to the suicide gang, hidden on the beach at Kathankudi.