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Mosques New Victim of Sri Lanka Buddhists

Published: 18/03/2013 05:18:28 PM GMT
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CAIRO - Feeling victorious in their campaign against halal food, extremist Buddhists in Sri Lanka are turning their eyes to mosques, calling for the demolition of a 10th century Muslim worship place.Ven.Galaboaththe Gnanas (more)

CAIRO - Feeling victorious in their campaign against halal food, extremist Buddhists in Sri Lanka are turning their eyes to mosques, calling for the demolition of a 10th century Muslim worship place.

Ven.Galaboaththe Gnanasara Thero, Secretary General of the Buddhist Force, said his group has given Muslims until 30th April to quit the Kuragala mosque, Colombo Page reported Monday, March 18.He argues that the mosque was originally a Buddhist monastery taken by Muslims, calling on Buddhists to join their efforts to demolish the ancient mosque.

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Kuragala is believed to be a Buddhist monastery complex that covers number of rock outcrops.

The ruins of the complex dates back to the 2nd century BC and has been declared an archeological reserve by the government.

Going for business in Sri Lanka, Muslim traders built a mosque and a temple at the place for prayers by Qutab Muhiyadeen Abdul Cader Jailany, who visited the site over 1,000 years ago.

The mosque and the temple have co-existed since 10th century.

The new campaign against the ancient mosque comes shortly after a vicious war by extremist Buddhists against halal food in Sri Lanka.

Over the past weeks, the Buddhist Force has staged rallies to call for a boycott of halal products in the country.

Earlier this month, Muslims agreed to abandon the halal logo on products to help ease tension by the Buddhist majority.


Thero, the Buddhist leader, says that the halal issue is now over and would not be discussed anymore.

He added that the group's next step will be to kick Muslims from the historical Kuragala area.

Sri Lanka has been thrown into tension following a string of serious incidents involving extremist Buddhist provocations against Muslims.

In June, some 200 demonstrators led by several dozen Buddhist monks converged on a small Islamic center in Colombo's suburb of Dehiwala.

Throwing stones and rotten meat over the mosque gate, protestors shouted slogans demanding the closure of the Muslim worship place.

Last April, a number of Buddhist monks disrupted Muslim prayer services in the village of Dambulla. The attackers claimed that the mosque, built in 1962, was illegal.

Weeks later, monks drafted a threatening letter aimed at Muslims in the nearby town of Kurunegala, demanding Islamic prayer services there be halted.

A ministerial committee has been appointed by Sri Lanka's President Mahinda Rajapaksa to look into growing religious tension in the country.

The main Opposition UNP has accused the Buddhist Force of having covert blessings from the government for their campaign of Muslim hatred, a claim denied by the group.

Sri Lankan Muslims, known as “Moors”, are the third largest ethnic group in the country after the Sinhalese, who make up 70 percent of the populace, and Tamils, who account for 12.5 percent.

Analysts say successive governments have been under pressure to give in to the Buddhist majority whenever there is an ethnic clash.

During the country's long civil war, the Muslim community was often caught between the two warring parties and it has a reputation for moderation.

Muslims live scattered throughout the island from Galle in the south to the Tamil-dominated Jaffna peninsula in the north.

Generally they are involved in commerce, from running local dry goods stores to dominating the wealthy gem business associated with Ratnapura [Jewel City] and much of the capital's import-export business.On the west coast, Muslims are primarily in business and trade, while on the east coast they are agriculturists, fishers and traders.

Reproduced with permission from