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