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Sri Lanka Monks Tried over Qur’an Desecration

The BBS monks made their offensive anti-Islam remarks last month during a meeting of religious leaders.

COLOMBO — In the first legal action against Sri Lanka’s extremist Buddhists, a group of monks have been released on bail, facing accusations of desecrating the holy Qur’an.

“The four priests along with two laymen were summoned by court today and granted bail in the sum of 100,000 rupees ($770) each,” police spokesman Ajith Rohana told Agence France Presse (AFP) on Monday, May 5.

“The magistrate warned them not to indulge in such activities. We will file formal charges when the case is called again next month.”

Accused by police of insulting the Noble Qur’an, four of Sri Lanka’s fanatic Buddhist monks were summoned by a Colombo court on Monday.

The monks, who are affiliates of the nationalist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or Buddhist Force, made their offensive anti-Islam remarks last month during a meeting of religious leaders.

The monks also rebuked and intimidated a moderate BBS monk who advocated religious harmony in the Asian Island, according to police.

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

In March 2013, Bodu Bala Sena called for the demolition of a 10th century mosque in Kuragala.

The call for destroying the ancient mosque comes shortly after the group campaigned against halal food in Sri Lanka, forcing Muslims to abandon halal logo to help ease tension with the Buddhist majority.

In June 2013, 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.

In April 2013, 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.

‘Not Guilty’

Refuting police accusations of insulting Muslims’ holy book, the Qur’an, the Buddhist monks denied perpetrating any offence.

“We wanted to plead not guilty, but we had no opportunity to speak in court,” said BBS leader Galagodaatte Gnanasara.

“We are told a hearing will be on June 9.”

Facing repeated attacks from Muslims, Muslim leaders called on the president last April to consider their requests to stem the rising tide of anti-Muslim extremism in the country.

Muslims have urged the president to publicly condemn the hate campaign of the Buddhist extremists.

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.

Source: onislam.net