Sri Lanka bans 11 Islamist groups ahead of Easter bombings anniversary

Colombo, Apr 11 (EFE).- The government of Sri Lanka on Wednesday banned 11 Islamist groups – including the Islamic State, the Al Qaeda and any group linked to them – ahead of the second anniversary of the Easter Sunday terrorist attacks in which 269 people were killed and over 400 injured.

The bans are being imposed “in good faith for the purpose of ensuring the continuance of peace within the country and in the interest of national security, public order, and the rule of law,” the government said in an order published on Wednesday in the Official Gazette of Sri Lanka. .

The ban order includes groups such as Save the Pearls, Super Muslim and Sri Lanka Islamic Student Movement, among others.

It also lays down prison sentences of up to 20 years for being a member of any of the groups, promoting it, carrying any of its symbols or providing financial support, as part of a 13-point list of activities, covering both Sri Lanka and overseas actions.

The vice president of the Muslim Council of Sri Lanka, Hilmy Ahamed, told EFE that the government was “making a huge mistake by claiming that the whole Muslim community is responsible for the 21/4 (Easter Sunday) attacks.”

“Yes, Muslims were involved but who were actually behind the attacks?” he added.

Ahamed said that most of the banned groups had nothing to do with the attacks of two years ago, and have not even had “the opportunity of responding to the charges made (against them).”

Some of the groups are considering filing petitions against the ban citing the violation of their fundamental rights, the leader said.

On Apr. 21, Sri Lanka will commemorate two years of the coordinated serial bombings on three churches and as many luxury hotels in the country, in which 269 people, including 45 children, were killed.

The attacks were claimed by the Islamic State terror group and carried out by local Islamist group National Thowheed Jamaat.

Although many members of the NTJ were subsequently arrested, the victims’ families have criticized the government for failing to prosecute security officials and government leaders for ignoring warnings of an imminent Islamist terror attack. EFE


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