Sri Lanka to demolish mosque and Hindu temple following protest by Buddhist monks

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, April 26 2012 3:31 p.m. MDT

DAMBULLA, Sri Lanka (AP) — Sri Lankan officials have decided to demolish a mosque and a Hindu temple under pressure from Buddhist monks who demanded their removal from a Buddhist sacred area.

Ruling party lawmaker Lakshman Perera said Monday that the places of worship and other buildings will be relocated to sites outside the designated sacred zone within six months.

Thousands of Buddhist monks and lay supporters stormed the mosque in the central Sri Lankan town of Dambulla on Friday, April 20, saying it was constructed illegally. They forced their way into the building and damaged some furniture, dispersing only after officials promised a solution on Monday.

Mohamed Saleemdeen, a board member of the mosque, denied it was an illegal building and said it had been there long before the area was declared a sacred zone about 20 years ago.

Buddhism is Sri Lanka's state religion and monks are powerful in political and social affairs.

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