The government of Sri Lanka has ordered that a controversial 60-year-old mosque be relocated, following protests by 300 Buddhist monks and their supporters, who stormed the Masjidul Khaira mosque in Dambulla on Friday.
The mosque is situated in a Buddhist sacred zone and was constructed in the 1940's. According to Alarabiya it is unclear why the monks have waited 60 years to launch their protest against the mosque, but they note that Buddhist activists vandalized another Muslim shrine last year.
During Friday's protests Buddhist monks gave the authorities a deadline of April 23 to remove the mosque, promising to completely demolish it if their demands were not met.
Ceylon Today reported Sri Lankan Prime Minister Prime Minister D.M. Jayaratne has ordered the demolition of the mosque but given assurances it will be rebuilt in a suitable area. His decision has angered senior Muslims. Colombo Municipal Councillor Azath Salley accused Sri Lankan regional radio of promoting the message of leading Buddhist Monk Inamaluwe Sumangala Thera that “Muslims are trying to bulldoze the rights and the heritage of Buddhists, and this cannot be allowed."
Figures cited by Asian Age show seven percent of Sri Lanka's 20 million population are Muslim but almost 75 percent Buddhist.