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    » 01/14/2014, 00.00


    Sri Lankan Buddhist radicals attack two independent Christian churches

    Eight Buddhist monks were among the 24 people who carried out the attack. Police were unable to contain the mob, which destroyed buildings and burnt religious literature. According to the attackers, the two churches do not have the permit needed to remain open. Religious intolerance is growing against religious minorities.

    Hikkaduwa (AsiaNews) - Sri Lankan police identified 24 people, including eight Buddhist monks, involved in attacks against two independent Christian churches in Hikkaduwa, a tourist resort in the south of the country.

    The daytime attack took place on Sunday. Led by Buddhist monks, a mob gathered outside the two religious centres to demand that they be closed.

    Quickly, the demonstration degenerated as protesters broke through the security ring set up by police and attacked the buildings.

    Police admitted that they were unable to contain the mob that surrounded the two independent churches, the Calvary Free Church and the Assemblies of God, throwing stones and bricks.

    After smashing doors and windows, the mob broke into the buildings, setting fire to religious symbols and books, including some Bibles.

    According to the Buddhist monks who led the attackers, local authorities had ordered the two churches to shut down because they lacked the necessary permit.

    However, the pastors in charge of the two centres said their churches were duly registered with the authorities and were therefore entitled to continue their activities.

    Such attacks are fuelling a climate of religious intolerance towards minorities, boosted by growing Buddhist nationalism among Sri Lanka's majority Sinhala.

    Two Buddhist radical groups have been especially responsible for a number of attacks against Muslims and Christians: Bodu Bala Sena (Buddhist Power Force or BBS) and the Sinhala Ravaya (Sinhalese roar). Both claim that their mission is to protect Sinhalese Buddhists.

    Sri Lanka has a population of 21.6 million people. Of these, 73.8 per cent are ethnic Sinhala.

    The nation's official religion is Buddhism, which is practiced by 69.1 per cent of the population.

    With just 7.9 per cent, Muslims are the country's second religious group, made up mostly of ethnic Tamils.

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    See also

    17/06/2014 SRI LANKA
    Radical Buddhists continue their violent attacks against Muslims
    According to early reports, four people are dead, 91 injured, including a week-old baby. A mosque is destroyed, and scores of homes and shops are looted or torched. "We condemn the violence against our Muslim brothers," Christian religious leaders tell AsiaNews.

    17/08/2012 SRI LANKA
    Forty radical Buddhists attack Protestant clergyman and his wife in Matara
    The attack occurred on 9 August in Deniyaya, southern Sri Lanka. President Rajapaksa's brother-in-law was present. The two, who belong to the Assembly of God Church, are accused of handing out Christian religious material in the area.

    11/05/2011 SRI LANKA
    Christians should take part in ‘Vesak’ celebrations to boost ethnic reconciliation
    Many Buddhist and Christian values are similar. Christian human rights activist Jehan Perera explains why Christians, Muslims and Hindus must take part in the celebrations marking the enlightenment of the Buddha.

    15/02/2014 SRI LANKA
    In Sri Lanka, peace must start with religious reconciliation
    About 250 people from every ethnic, gender, age, social and religious background attended a conference on 'Religious reconciliation for peace'. Two civil society groups stress that harmonious coexistence among all communities is needed to overcome the ravages of civil war.

    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.

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