World Bulletin / News Desk
Sri Lankan Buddhist leader Galagoda Atthe Gnanasara threatened to destroy Muslim businesses and asked his audience to fight against the minorities. Part of the audience shouted back saying yes, they will do it.
Bodu Bala Sena's General-Secretary Gnanasara in an inciteful and fear mongering speech on Monday said that “if one marakkalaya (Muslim) lays a hand on a Sinhalese, that will be the end of all of them” to a rousing and cheering crowd prior to the riots in Aluthgama.
The monk threatened to destroy Muslim businesses at Aluthgama, Beruwala and other places, instructed his listeners to grab any bags with Halal signs and throw them on the ground, asked his audience to fight against the minorities and he told the crowd that party politics have destroyed Sinhalese and urged the crowd to unite and take things into their own hands.
The violence on Sunday and Monday nights was blamed on the hardline Buddhist Force (BBS) in the southern towns of Alutgama and Beruwala, about 60 kilometres (35 miles) south of Colombo.
A Bodu Bala Sena rally in southwestern town Aluthgama descended into communal clashes on Sunday when they tried to march through predominantly Muslim areas. Eyewitnesses said Muslim-owned shops were set alight and mosques vandalized, forcing many -- especially women and children -- into hiding.
Jathika Hela Urumaya, a politician, and singer Madumadhawa Aravinda, sung poetry to the crowd, calling on them them to rise up, the Colombo Telegraph reported.
Anti-extremism Buddhist monk attacked
A prominent Buddhist monk known for actively speaking out against hardline Buddhist nationalists in Sri Lanka has been assaulted and was found with cut wounds, police said Thursday.
Police spokesperson SSP Ajith Rohana said Vataraka Vijitha Thero was taken to hospital in western Sri Lanka early Thursday. Thero is known for raising his voice against the Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena and their use of hate speech against minorities.
Gnanasara recently stormed into a media conference being addressed by Thero and, face-to-face, threatened him.
Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa visited the town of Beruwala, where some of the clashes occurred, on Wednesday and promised an investigation and that the government will rebuild damaged homes and businesses.
Orange-robed Buddhist monks were amongst the most visible presence at a protest against the communal clashes, in Colombo on Wednesday. They were seen holding Tamil-language signs, a rare and iconic sign of solidarityy with the mostly-Hindu Tamil minority.
The protesters warned against divisive identity politics opening up new rifts in a country that struggled with a decades-long civil war between the Sinhalese-majority government and Tamil separatist rebels.
Muslim-run shops shut down to protest riots
Several hundred Muslim-owned businesses shut down in the Sri Lankan capital on Thursday to protest deadly riots by extremist Buddhists, defying President Mahinda Rajapakse's plea to stay open.
Four people were left dead along with Muslim homes and businesses, shops, and restaurants razed after the riots that took place in two main muslim coastal resorts.
"The protest is against the BBS and the police failure to protect our community," a Muslim shop-keeper who declined to be named told AFP. "We are also asking the government to take action against those behind the riots."
President Rajapakse on Wednesday urged majority Buddhists and minority Muslims to ease tensions and take steps towards peace.
The main Muslim party in Rajapakse's ruling coalition, the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC), boycotted parliament on Wednesday, accusing authorities of failing to control the BBS.
The violence in the towns of Beruwala, Aluthgama and Dharga have been condemned by the international community, including the United States, U.N. and EU.
The National Christian Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka also released a strongly-worded statement on Tuesday, criticizing "the blatant attack on members of the Muslim minority."
"In recent months Muslims and Christians alike have been subjected to hate speech and numerous attacks and violence against their places and practices of worship," said the statement. "Social polarization along religious lines is something Sri Lanka can ill-afford, particularly at this juncture of our history where as a country we are yet to resolve the ethnic conflict that manifested itself in a thirty year long war."
Bodu Bala Sena, which literally translates to Buddhist Power Force, is a right-wing Buddhist group that was established after the end of Sri Lanka's decades-long civil war in 2009. They belong to the country's Sinhalese Buddhist majority and have been accused of inciting hate against other religions in Sri Lanka.Last Mod: 19 Haziran 2014, 14:47