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    » 09/16/2013, 00.00

    SRI LANKA

    Sinhalese Buddhist radicals attack Protestant church

    Melani Manel Perera

    A monk and four of his followers attacked the Pentecostal community in Meegoda, accusing its pastor of "forced conversions" and of "destroying" Buddhist culture. The police have ignored the complaints of Christians. "The attack is unmotivated," Buddhist Lawyer said. "As a Buddhist, I feel embarrassed because real Buddhism is not about attacking and killing."

    Colombo (AsiaNews) - Tensions are rising in Sri Lanka because of the violence perpetrated by some radical Sinhalese Buddhists groups against Christian communities, whom they accuse of engaging in "forced conversions" and of trying to "destroy" Buddhist culture.

    The latest incident occurred on 8 September when a group of fundamentalists attacked the Pentecostal Church of the Living Water in Meegoda, a village near Colombo.

    "The attack was unmotivated," Buddhist lawyer Susantha Dodawatta told AsiaNews, because "nothing happened between the two communities in the area."

    Pitipana Seelawansa Thero, a Buddhist monk who heads the Padukka Puraanas Viharaya Temple, led the attack, along with four of his followers: Rangana Jayarathna, Chandrapala, Sunil Perera and Damith Nilanga. None of them lives in Meegoda.

    The attackers claim the church is unregistered and that conversions by Christians are a big problem for the village. Despite complaints by the pastor, Rev E K Pryantha, the police have not yet arrested the culprits.

    "Such attacks," the lawyer said, "show that there is a political agenda that aims to unite the Buddhists. Everyone should have the freedom to change religion in this country. We Buddhists are the first to be harmed in our culture and religion from these petty actions. Whoever is behind this incident should not be supported. As a Buddhist, I feel embarrassed because real Buddhism is not about attacking and killing."

    In the recent past, some radical Sinhalese Buddhist groups have targeted Muslims and Christians.

    Two extremist groups, the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and the Sinhala Ravaya (Sinhalese echo), have led the attacks, ostensibly on a "mission" to protect the Sinhalese population and the Buddhist religion.

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    See also

    16/11/2011 SRI LANKA
    Card. Ranjith against the aggressive proselytism of Protestant Churches in Sri Lanka
    The Archbishop of Colombo has asked the government to set up a commission to oversee the work of inter-religious evangelical groups in the country. Perplexity in the Catholic world: these communities do not understand the complexity and delicacy of evangelism in Sri Lanka, but it is not fair to ask for state intervention. The evangelical pastors reject allegations of forced conversions.

    30/01/2009 SRI LANKA
    Anti-conversion bill: minorities fear restrictions on religious freedom
    Tabled in January by a party led by Buddhist monks, the draft law could be adopted before the end of next month. Its purpose is to stop people from changing religion under pressure or in exchange of economic advantages. A similar bill had been presented in 2004 but failed after the Supreme Court found it unconstitutional. Protestant Churches have already mobilised against the bill; Catholics are concerned about it and waiting for their bishops to take a stand.

    05/04/2007 THAILAND
    Mosque bombed in the South: 16 wounded
    This time a Muslim place of worship is targeted by unrest; authorities say the aim is to provoke religious tensions: “They want to frighten moderate Muslims who are willing to collaborate with authorities to stop the violence”.

    09/06/2015 SRI LANKA
    Military building Buddhist temples against local wishes in northern Sri Lanka
    Christian and Hindu Tamils are the only residents. According to them, the government is trying to "appease" majority Sinhalese. For Catholic activist, this action is “dishonest".

    02/10/2014 SRI LANKA - MYANMAR
    Alliance between radical Burmese and Sri Lankan monks will "destroy true Buddhism"
    Some moderate religious criticise pact between Sri Lanka's Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and Myanmar's 969 movement to "fight" Islamic fundamentalism. "For us, they are a disgrace, not real Buddhists," critics say. Both groups are responsible for violence against minority communities in their respective countries.



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