Buddhist leader stokes anti-Muslim tension

18/Sep/2017

 

A manhunt is on in Sri Lanka for a hard-line Buddhist leader after a series of attacks on mosques and Muslim-owned businesses that authorities accuse him of encouraging.

 

President Maithripala Siresena had vowed to investigate anti-Muslim hate crimes after assuming power in 2015, however, attacks have escalated over the past two weeks. Another Muslim shop in the town of Kahawatte was reportedly burned to the ground this week by unidentified attackers.

 

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General-Secretary Galagoda Atte Gnanasara has encouraged his Buddhist supporters to lead another campaign against Muslims following the deadly Aluthgama riots in June 2014, which attempted to create disunity between Buddhists and Muslims.

Less than 10 percent of Sri Lanka's population of 20 million are Muslim. The majority are Sinhalese Buddhist, while most Tamils are Hindu.

 

"Gnanasara … wants to re-start his campaign to fuel tensions in the country. What he is trying to do now is to give the impression to the majority Buddhists that he will be imprisoned indefinitely due to Muslim complaints against him and his group. He is driving the attention away from his crimes."

 

 

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