- Says it never called for Halal ban or boycott of Muslim shops
- Calls Fashion Bug attack “unwarranted and unnecessary” but law took its course
- Slams Vasu for move to ban BBS
- Claims group enjoys full democratic rights guaranteed under constitution
- Says Gota told ACJU to withdraw Halal\ completely
By Dharisha Bastians
In a seeming about turn, the Bodu Bala Sena Organisation yesterday claimed it had never called for a boycott of Muslim enterprises and a ban on Halal foods in the country and warned Government Ministers against proscribing the group.
Toning down the rhetoric one week after angry mobs attacked a Muslim-owned textile warehouse in Pepiliyana, Bodu Bala Sena leaders told a media conference at their headquarters in Thunmulla that the group had never attacked a Muslim person, a mosque or Muslim-owned enterprise.
“The Bodu Bala Sena exists to safeguard Buddhism from the challenges in faces. We are enjoying our full democratic right under the Constitution to carry out our activities,” BBS Executive Committee member and layman Dilantha Withanage told journalists.
Terming the attack on Fashion Bug in Pepiliyana “unwanted” and “unwarranted,” he said the BBS categorically denied any involvement in the attacks reported against the Muslim community.
“There can be violent incidents, this is a country that went through a war. But these are isolated incidents and we are not involved,” Withanage reiterated. “Attempts are being made to link the Pepiliyana incident to us. The same thing happened with the No Limit incident in Maharagama earlier this year,” he said.
The BBS representatives said they were satisfied that the law took its course following the Pepiliyana attack on the Fashion Bug warehouse.
Charging that their statements and activities were being distorted by the media and websites in order to discredit the organisation, Withanage said the BBS had only called on Buddhists to boycott Halal products.
“We never called for a ban on Halal foods. We were against the illegal certification by the All Ceylon Jamaiythul Ulama,” Withange said.
Responding to a query, he said the BBS had never called for a boycott of Muslim-owned shops and enterprises.
“We only want to strengthen the Sinhala businessman, by building networks and educating them about business practices and mobilising them,” he said.
He said that all people living in Sri Lanka were entitled to equal rights but Sri Lanka’s culture and base was essentially Sinhala Buddhist.
BBS General Secretary Galagodaththe Gnanasara said they had decided to allow the 31 March deadline on the Halal issue to lapse after Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa directly intervened.
“The Defence Secretary told the ACJU that not only must the Halal logo be removed, but the entire Halal process had to be withdrawn,” he explained.
The group also slammed attempts by National Integration Minister Vasudeva Nanayakkara to bring a Cabinet proposal seeking a ban on groups inciting religious and racial disharmony.
Gnanasara Thero charged that such ministers were a disgrace to the Government of President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“Such ministers should be sent to Angoda once in three months, to have their heads examined,” Gnanasara Thero said, adding that Nanayakkara was a peacenik who marched against the war some years ago.
The group called on the Government to take action against websites that were publishing false information in a bid to discredit the Bodu Bala Sena and its activities both locally and internationally.
Withange said that the group would take legal action against the Lanka E News website, and had already made a complaint with the CID about a fake email account that was releasing letters to the media under the group’s letterheads. The letter claimed the BBS would commence a campaign against the purdah and circumcision, Withanage said.
“We never had a meeting to decide on such a thing,” he charged, refuting the contents of the letter.
According to Withanage, the Lanka E News website was also carrying out a campaign of character assassination against monks who were members of the BBS.
Gnanasara Thero called for the arrest of the Lanka E News administrator. “We challenge the Government to go to London and arrest Sandaruwan Senadheera – he is after all tarnishing the image of our country,” he charged.