Visiting Lankan minister blames extremists for anti-Muslim violence

Abdul Rishad Bathiudeen

Abdul Rishad Bathiudeen

A visiting Sri Lankan minister has blamed Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), an extremist Buddhist group, for the anti-Muslim riots in which three Muslims were killed and several injured.

The rioters damaged movable and immovable properties belonging to the Muslim community in the southern part of the island nation.

Commerce and Industry Minister Abdul Rishad Bathiudeen, who is also a leader of the All Ceylon Muslim Congress, told Arab News that an inflammatory speech made by BBS General Secretary Gnanasara Thero at a meeting in Aluthgama on Sunday triggered the violence against the Muslim community.

According to him, the BBS is trying to take law into their hands and unleash violence by misguided Sinhalese youngsters.

“Such a movement should be banned forthwith and the government should take remedial action to avoid further rioting,” said Bathiudeen. Demanded immediate police action against Gnanasara Thero for instigating the riots, he said the Sinhalese in general are a friendly community.

“We have been living with them for centuries in peace and harmony, and we share our joys and sorrows with them,” he said, recalling that during the past two years, BBS has been raising its ugly head to pit the two communities against each other.

“In his speech on Monday, Gnassara Thero said Muslims should be dealt with severely,” he said.

“His audience got carried away by his inflammatory words and started attacking Muslims, their mosques, their shops and their properties.”

According to the minister, it is a planned conspiracy to unleash hatred against the Muslim community.

“Muslims have immense trust in President Mahinda Rajapaksa’s government,” he said.
“Muslims hope that the government would put an end to such racism in the country.”

Muslims make up about 10 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million population. Nationalist Buddhist groups frequently accuse minorities of wielding undue political and economic influence.





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