pennews
www.pennews.net
Lanka expels visiting Islamic clerics
International

Lanka expels visiting Islamic clerics

S.Murari

Sri Lanka has expelled over 600 foreign nationals, including around 200 Islamic clerics, since the Easter suicide bombings blamed on a local terrorist group,Home Affairs Minister Vajira Abeywardena said in Colombo on Sunday

HE said the clerics had entered the country legally, but were found to have overstayed their visas, for which fines were imposed and they were expelled from the island.

The action followed fear that these preachers might radicalize the local youths.

"Considering the current situation in the country, we have reviewed the visas system and took a decision to tighten visa restrictions for religious teachers," Abeywardena said.

"Out of those who were sent out, about 200 were Islamic preachers," the Minister added.

He did not give the nationalities of those who have been expelled, but police have said many foreigners who have overstayed their visas since the Easter attacks were from Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Pakistan.

"There are religious institutions which have been getting down foreign preachers for decades," Abeywardena said.

"We have no issues with them, but there are some which mushroomed recently. We will pay more attention to them."

The Minister said the Government was overhauling the country's visa policy following fears that foreign clerics could radicalise locals for a repeat of the April 21 suicide bombings, which targeted three Christian churches and three luxury hotels.