08/01/2013, 00.00
SRI LANKA
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Sri Lanka, Buddhist radicals claim Islamic veil promotes drug dealing

by Melani Manel Perera
Members of the ultra-nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) speak of "threat to national security" and calls on the government to ban the garment. Muslim activist: "Dangerous trend that exploits patriotism to justify exclusive, violent and destructive attacks against minorities."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - The radical Sinhala-Buddhist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) is demanding the Government of Sri Lanka  ban the Islamic veil because it represents a serious threat to national security and promotes the trafficking of drugs. Speaking to AsiaNews Faizun Zackariya, a Muslim activist for human rights, the group is using "the rhetoric of nationalism and patriotic fervor to justify exclusive, violent and destructive attacks against minorities."

The BBS and other organizations have been behind similar attacks - verbal and physical - against the minority communities of Sri Lanka, targeting Muslims in particular. Such groups "justify" their persecution and violent discrimination by claiming they are protecting the Sinhalese population and Buddhist religion.

"What we are witnessing today - explains the Zackariya - is an ultra-nationalism that is fomented by political protection and access to state institutions. This dangerous trend is trying to carve out a new consensus, without freedom, dignity and social justice. For over four years [since the end of the Civil War, ed] the government has promised democracy. Instead, what we see is a use of religion for political purposes, an ultra-nationalist ideology back in vogue, an increase in human rights violations , a progressive centralization of power. "

From 1983 to 2009, the Sri Lanka was the scene of a bloody civil war between the rebel Tamil Tigers (Liberation of Tamil Tigrs Eealm, LTTE) - which called for the creation of an independent Tamil provinces in the north and east of the island - and government forces. It quickly became a real ethnic conflict between the Sinhalese (the ethnic majority, 73.8%) and Tamil (8.5%), which ended with a military victory.

 

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