BANGALORE, India — When I met Watareka Vijitha Thero in early 2014 in a suburb of Colombo, the Sri Lankan capital, he had been in hiding for nearly five months. The gentle-voiced monk had spoken out against anti-Muslim fearmongering by a hard-line group called the Buddhist Power Force, known by its Sinhalese initials B.B.S.
Mr. Vijitha’s car was attacked in retaliation, and he narrowly escaped. “What does it mean for Buddhism if those that speak for communal harmony have to hide in fear?” he asked me. “What does it mean for my country that the government lets these lawless thugs have a free run?”
Six months later, Mr. Vijitha was found on a road near Colombo stripped naked and bloody, his hands and legs bound. The B.B.S. denied involvement. When the monk filed a complaint, the police threw him in jail for 12 days on charges of self- inflicted violence — a warning to others who dared to criticize hard-line Buddhists.
Three years ago, the B.B.S and other hard-line groups were fringe elements. Today, they are a powerful force, and their aggressive assertion of Sinhalese Buddhist dominance, in a country that is 70 percent Buddhist, is increasingly mirrored in government-approved revisionist histories of Sri Lanka…
…No matter who wins in January, the message is unmistakable: To be truly considered Sri Lankan these days, one must accept the primacy and glory of the country’s Sinhalese Buddhist past. Unless it is challenged, this mindset will pose a far greater danger to Sri Lanka than the blows of hard-line thugs.
This is from the paper that would never even consider using “violent” with “Islam” or “Muslim” in a title. Readers also found the story lacking context. Islam is barely mention in the article. Sample comment:
If other readers of the NY Times are anything like me, the problem with this op-ed is that we have no background for understanding it. We have been hearing about the Buddhist violence against Muslims in Myanmar, and now the Buddhist violence against Muslims in Sri Lanka, but why?
Why have Buddhist, astonishingly, become violent? What do they say? What are their explanations? Did this violence just fall out of the sky, or are they responding to something?
Come on, NY Times, what is the story???