A Sri Lankan Buddhist has written to Pamela Geller, to express his appreciation of her anti-Islam website. Geller has published his letter:
Im from Sri Lanka. A Buddhist. Im very interested in your work against Islamic terrorism. (I mean its as a terrorism because all things in their Qur’an is terrorism. aka black book of terrorism)
…Some incident happens in here last week. Islam mosque built recently in a land or more than 800 years old Buddhist temple. The Dambulla rock caves well known around the world….
this is the most recent incident only. they did, and doing many things against us. their plan is lost Sinhalese people from Sri Lanka and become Muslim country.
…Please note some fake, incorrect news published though many international news such as BBC. these terror islamic people show this as Buddhism racist to world.
But actually they against us, our religion. we did nothing…
Geller’s response is triumphant:
More news you will never see. This is the same Sri Lanka that Rifqa Bary’s parents wanted to send her back to. And everyone in the media parroted the same thing — that Sri Lanka had no problem with Islam or its devout adherents. Reality was different: Rifqa herself, in her harrowing video explaining why she fled from her home in fear for her life, said that Muslim girls in Sri Lanka are killed or put into insane asylums for trying to leave Islam. She knew what she was talking about.
In fact, Muslims make up only 7.6 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population, and the country’s laws favour Buddhism – in 2010 a Sri Lankan convert to Islam was arrested for publishing two books about her conversion. Around that time, Geller’s associate Robert Spencer was among those incorrectly and ignorantly asserting that Sri Lanka is a Muslim country (I blogged previously on Bary here).
Of course, this does not mean that Muslim extremists do not exist in Sri Lanka, but the claim that evidence of aggressive Buddhist behaviour at Dumballa merely “fake, incorrect news” is not supportable. A Sri Lankan website called Groundviews has what appears to be comprehensive coverage of recent events in Dambulla, where militant Buddhist monks have been demanding the removal of a local mosque and kovil (a type of Tamil Hindu temple). Helpfully, the site’s articles include commentary and translation of local news reports. Here’s an extract from one piece:
...There are members of the Sangha engaged in mob violence. There is a member of the Sangha who disrobes, jumps up and down and exposes himself, in public, against the mosque. Others break down the entrance of the mosque. A Chief Prelate from the Dambulla Temple suggests that the mob is a shramadaanaya, and that destroying the mosque is something that they should in fact be helped by the government.
…At around 3.47 in this video, there is a particularly chilling exchange between one of the Chief Prelates of the Dambulla Temple and a Hindu resident of the area. The female resident, who is not once dis-respectful in her submissions to the Prelate, says that from when she was small, she had worshipped at a Kovil in the area. The Prelate’s immediate answer is whether she is referring to the 1800′s. In a menacing Sinhala idiom that loses a lot of its original violence in translation, the Chief Prelate threatens to either remove the Kovil, or have it removed along with the homes of the Hindu residents, noting that they are all there illegally. The Chief Prelate notes, through a Sinhala adage, that not only are the crows attempting to fly over their heads, they are now attempting to enter the nest as well – a clear reference to the Hindus and Muslims in the areas.
…Late last year, a similar mob also led by Buddhist monks destroyed another Muslim place of worship. Photos of the incident show Police just standing by, and a green flag with Islamic iconography being burnt. Mervyn Silva, a senior government Minister whose public record of violence is well documented and is protected by no less than the ruling family, openly threatens to maim and kill human rights defenders and, literally, in the same breath says he is a good Sinhala Buddhist. Some of these statements were made in a leading temple in Colombo, with members of the Buddhist clergy present, who went on to bless the Minister.
It is alleged by the protesters that the mosque is an illegal structure, and built more recently than local Muslims assert; however, another article on the site has posted what appear to be the mosque’s deeds. Bill Weinberg notes and discusses some other sources at World War 4 Report here; the evidence strongly suggests that the monks’ attack was motivated by Sinhalese chauvinism.
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