Mangala says anti-Muslim campaign is ‘playing with fire’
- UNP MP charges Govt. is aiding extremist Buddhist organisations to incite violence between communities
- Claims Buddhist extremists ‘Taliban’ forces and ‘representatives of hate’
By Dharisha Bastians
The main Opposition United National Party yesterday charged that the Government was tacitly sponsoring the anti-Muslim activities of a monk-led Buddhist extremist group operating in the country and warned the ruling regime was effectively ‘playing with fire’.
“The Muslim community is the latest target of a racist Government,” UNP Comm-unications Director and Parliamentarian Mangala Samaraweera told a news conference yesterday. It was the ruling regime’s latest ploy to win favour with Sinhala Buddhists in the face of mounting economic and international challenges precipitated by corrupt governance, he added. Referring to an extremist Buddhist organisation, Samaraweera charged that its members were not representatives of the Buddha.
“These are the forces of hate and extremism,” he said.
Samaraweera said that their behaviour and rhetoric indicate that the monks leading the extremist groups belong to a ‘Taliban-style’ monastic order that does not follow the teachings of the Buddha.
The UNP MP alleged that the Bodu Bala Sena and affiliate organisations were being financed by a fund within the state machinery without being subject to Parliamentary oversight.
“As a political party, we are aware of the costs involved in setting up task forces and carrying out islandwide poster campaigns – where are these extremist groups getting their money?” Samaraweera queried.
The UNP MP added that the shadows of the defence establishment were also obvious by the inaction of the police in the face of anti-Muslim protests and even the recent attack on the Bangladeshi High Commission in Colombo.
He said the Government’s hidden hand in the anti-Muslim uprising was aimed at creating disharmony between communities. “They are attempting to push Muslims towards militancy to create a further distraction from the bankrupt governance by the ruling regime,” Samaraweera claimed.
Praising the Muslim community for acting with supreme restraint in the face of provocation by extremist Buddhist groups, Samaraweera warned that Buddhist extremists were fuelling Islamic extremists around the world. “The Government doesn’t realise the dangerous game it is playing,” the UNP MP said.
The anti-Muslim trend in the country would endanger the lives of Sri Lankans and its diplomatic missions all over the world, he claimed.
“The American Ambassador to Libya was killed because one man in the US made a movie,” Samaraweera charged.