Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, the founder of Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or Buddhist Power Force in 2012, poses for a photo at the BBS office in Colombo
With a bloody civil war over and a cautious peace at hand, hardline Buddhist monks are rallying Sri Lankans against what they say is a pernicious threat: Muslims.
In just over a year, the monks of Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force) have amassed a huge following, drawing thousands of fist-pumping followers who rail against the country’s Muslim minority.
Buddhists have attacked dozens of mosques and called for boycotts on Muslim-owned businesses and bans on headscarves and halal foods. At boisterous rallies, monks claim Muslims are out to recruit children, marry Buddhist women and divide the country.
“This is a Buddhist nation, so why are they trying to call it a multicultural society?” said Galagoda Atte Gnanasara, the 37-year-old pulpit-pounding monk who co-founded the group in 2012.
The Jami Ul Alfar Moske in Colombo, Sri Lanka
In September 2011, Buddhists reportedly smashed a 300-year-old Islamic Sufi shrine to rubble in the ancient city of Anuradhapura, a Unesco world heritage site. Police have denied that the incident happened, but photographs taken by locals show at least a dozen officers watching as young men hammer the shrine to pieces while a monk holds a burning green Islamic flag.
In April 2012, a 2,000-strong Sinhalese mob including monks ransacked Jumma Mosque in the north-central city of Dambulla as police looked on.
The government later ordered the removal of the decades-old mosque, saying its location within a sacred Buddhist area was an affront.
In March last year, police watched as red-robed monks led a hollering crowd in trashing a Muslim-owned clothing store.
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It seems “multiculturalism” is unpopular everywhere, not just in the West. Especially if it involves Muslims. Political correctness does not seem to exist outside the West either.