Top Sri Lankan Buddhist monk urges boycott of Muslim businesses

Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana

A top Buddhist monk in Sri Lanka has accused Muslims of destroying the island’s majority Sinhalese community and called for drastic action, including the boycott of their businesses.

The chief prelate of the Asgiriya Chapter of Buddhism launched the tirade against Muslims during a ceremony near the holiest Buddhist shrine, the Temple of the Tooth in the central city of Kandy.

Monk Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana urged his faithful not to patronise Muslim-owned restaurants saying they were systematically working to reduce the population of Sinhala-Buddhists by making them sterile.

“Don’t eat from those (Muslim) shops,” the monk said. “Those who ate from those shops will not have children in the future. In another 10 to 15 years we will know the consequence.

“I may not live that long. But when you think about it, our country is destitute, our (Sinhala) people have become destitute.”

In Sri Lanka, Buddhist monks are hugely influential and part of the political mainstream. They have also seen as leading the front in fanning majoritarian Sinhala sentiments.

Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana also said a Muslim doctor in Matale had destroyed “hundreds of thousands of Sinhalese children.”

His comments came as a doctor who had served in the Matale and Kurunegala districts was at the centre of a sterilisation scare triggered by police Deputy Inspector-General Kithsiri Jayalath. The policeman is now under investigation for attempting to cause racial hatred.

The monk did not name the doctor, but said Buddhist women devotees wanted him stoned.

“Such traitors should not be allowed to stay free. Some mothers said he should be stoned to death. I don’t say that, but that is what should be done.”

“If one of our people did that to the other community, we will slice them. Laws and rules are not necessary. We should unite as Sinhala-Buddhists. We should not look at colours and vote. We should elect people who think of the (Sinhala) race and the country.”

Sri Lankan finance minister Mangala Samaraweera on Wednesday strongly came out against the monk’s statements and said that “true Buddhists” should unite against the “Talibanisation” of the religion.

However, there has been no other vocal condemnation from other politicians, including from the top leadership.

Meanwhile, a rally inviting all Sinhalese Buddhists to unite will take place io Kandy on July 7 with the participation of 10,000 Buddhist monks.

Communal tensions have been high in Sri Lanka since the Easter Sunday bombings which killed 258 people and which were blamed on Muslims.

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