Updated: September 28, 2021 09:23 AM GMT
Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Ven. Gnanasara Thero at a magistrates' court following an arrest warrant for his alleged hate crime against Muslims in Colombo, Sri Lanka, in June 2017. (Photo: AFP)
Muslim lawmakers have lodged a complaint against Buddhist monk Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) for his remarks inducing hatred against the minority Muslim community in Sri Lanka
Mujibur Rahuman, an opposition lawmaker, said they had lodged a complaint with the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) against remarks the monk made during recent television and social media programs.
Ven. Gnanasara Thero reportedly said that the mastermind of the Easter Sunday attacks in 2019 was Allah and warned of a similar terrorist attack in the future. The monk was concealing vital information about a possible terrorist attack from the security forces, Rahuman alleged.
The Church in Sri Lanka had earlier demanded an inquiry into the sensational disclosure by the monk about the likelihood of an attack similar to the Easter bombings.
“Conduct an immediate and comprehensive investigation to ensure the safety of the public in the country,” said Father Cyril Gamini, former director of the National Catholic Center for Social Communications, in Colombo on Sept. 16.
Rahuman expressed regret that the monk was being allowed to incite such hate via state media. In a letter sent to Dullas Alahapperuma, the minister of mass media and information, Rahuman pointed out that the monk had described Muslims as walking bombs and said things that were detrimental to their religious beliefs.
Governments have so far failed to take steps against the extremist groups with whose help they gain power
A hardliner, Ven. Gnanasara Thero was sentenced by a court in Sri Lanka to six months in prison for criminally intimidating a person inside a court in 2016. He was previously accused of hate crimes and anti-Muslim violence as leader of the BBS or “Buddhist Power Force.”
The controversial Buddhist monk was accorded a presidential pardon within few months of serving his term.
Rights activist Aruni Aloka said there were a number of attacks against Muslim religious places of worship and businesses countrywide in past few years but no one has been punished.
“Radical Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organizations hurt their [Muslims'] religious sentiment but they have to live in fear. Governments have so far failed to take steps against the extremist groups with whose help they gain power,” she said.
The island nation has witnessed anti-Muslim violence since 2009 with rising attacks on their places of worship, businesses and homes. In 2014, three people were killed and 17 mosques were attacked in the coastal town of Aluthgama.
Nearly 450 Muslim-owned homes and shops were damaged and over 20 mosques were attacked in Digana, a suburb of Kandy, in 2018.
Last year the monk was pursued by police in connection with attacks against Muslims. He later handed himself in and was granted bail.
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