Colombo (AsiaNews) – Several Sri Lankan Buddhist monks have expressed solidarity with Muslims, speaking out against the anti-Muslim violence unleashed this week by Buddhist Sinhalese radicals.
Yesterday, some monks gathered for a Satyagraha (silent protest) at Viharamaha Devi Park in Colombo; others took part in the Friday prayer in the mosques, which the government has closely monitored to prevent further clashes.
“We have to proceed together,” said some of the monks who visited mosques in the capital. “Very few people think in such a dangerous manner.”
Today President Maithripala Sirisena appointed a three-member committee of retired judges to investigate incidents in Kandy, which remains under curfew.
Yesterday’s silent protest against sectarian violence was organised by the Janatha Vimukthi Peramuna (JVP, or People’s Liberation Front).
Artists, university professors and researchers, representatives of civil society groups, members of Islamic organisations and Buddhist monks of the National Bhikku Front took part in the event.
“Communal clashes are destroying national unity,” said some monks who were present at the gathering. “We must defeat this trend.”
“What exploded in Kandy was not an isolated incident nor happen spontaneously,” said JVP leader Anura Dissanayaka. “Communalism is systematically aroused throughout the country by various interested parties,” he added.
“Some political movements, instead of finding solutions, are bent on spreading communalism in their communities,” he explained. “Politics has divided people into camps. As such, the communalism that has emerged in our country must be defeated.”
After the incidents that broke out in Kandy, in central Sri Lanka, some monks and young Buddhists set out to protect mosques, even overnight.
Yesterday five monks in charge of five temples* in the capital visited four Jumma Mosque in Colombo’s Ratmalana and Mount Lavinia boroughs.
“We should live as one community,” they said. “Under one flag, we are all Sinhalese, Muslims, Tamils and Burgers who should live together. We did not come into the world saying ‘I will be Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim’.”
The monks also invited Muslims to visit Buddhist temples. “Let’s practise the same (peaceful coexistence) in everyday life, not just when problems arise,” they noted.
* Mallikarama Viharasthanaya, Lankarama Viharasthanaya, Bodhirukkarama Viharasthanaya, Kothalawalapura Samadhi Buddhist Institute, and Ratmalana Raja Mawatha Viharasthanaya.