COLOMBO - In the largest anti-Muslim rally to date, Bodu Bala Sena, an extremist Buddhist party, called upon the Sri Lankan government to ban halal food certification and building mosques with funds from the Middle Eastern countries, in the Colombo suburb Maharagama on Sunday.
Attended by thousands of supporters wearing white T-shirts sporting ‘No halal’ in English and Arabic, the anti-Muslim sentiment comes amidst month-long tension created by a small Buddhist clergy.
The Bodu Bala Sena or the Buddhist Strength Force, has been attempting to create rift between the majority Buddhist community and Muslim minority, only 10 per cent of the country’s population, who have been living in communal harmony and were recovering from an ethnic war waged by the minority Tamil Tiger terrorists.
The monks called to boycott halal products and demanded the government to ban halal products by the end of next month.
In a call charged with provocative ethno-religious sentiments, Bodu Bala Sena Secretary Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thero asked President Mahinda Rajapaksa to protect the “sacred Sinhala Franchise” that brought him into power.
“Hundreds of monks are ready to fight....Our country is a Sinhalese one and we are its unofficial police,” said the Buddhist monk, claiming that ‘Muslim extremists’ were threatening the Buddhist race.
He also called upon the constitution to allow seven wives for Buddhist men as Muslim men are allowed four as per their religion, a demand the Bodu bala Sena have been making over the past few weeks. He made derogatory comments againt various Muslim sects including likening the women’s conservative dressing to ghost.
During the rally, the group also unveiled a 10-point resolution that seeks to ban several things including halal certification of food in the country, sending Sri Lankan women to work in the Middle East and building of mosques with funds from Mideast nations.
Gnanasar Thero accused some Muslim institutions of receiving Middle Eastern funds for converting Buddhists. The group said that “some countries are funding Muslim and Christian fundamentalism in the country.”