05/08/2014, 00.00
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Sri Lanka, even Buddhists against religious police wanted by the government

by Melani Manel Perera
The organization Rawana Balaya ("Power of the King Rawana ") submits an official request to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Buddha Sasana, which heads the special police unit. "There are no religious disputes that the normal police cannot solve."

Colombo (AsiaNews) - Remove the religious police before the celebration of Vesak in Sri Lanka. This is the official request yesterday submitted by the organization Buddhist Rawana Balaya ( "Power of the King Rawana" ) to the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Buddha Sasana,. According to Ven. Ittakande Saddhatissa Thero, general secretary of the association, "there are no religious disputes that the normal police cannot resolve". If President Mahinda Rajapaksa does not accede to the request,  the group has vowed to occupy the ministry building.

On 28 April, the Sri Lankan government created a special police unit, with the aim of resolving religious disputes that have emerged over the last year. All cases have involved radical Sinhalese Buddhist organizations - such as the Bodu Bala Sena and the Sinhala Ravaya - who target the Christian and Muslim minorities. However, representatives of these communities were opposed to the formation of this religious police.

The Buddhist Monk explained: "There are police stations across the country where you can file complaints. There is no need for a religious police force. If there were problems, the Christians could not go to church and Muslims could not go to the mosque".

Vesak is the most important festival in the Buddhist world.  It commemorates the birth, enlightenment and death of Buddha. The date on which the celebrations take place follow the moon calendar and this year falls on May 14. In Sri Lanka, Buddhism is the official religion, practiced by 76.7 % of the population .



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