Sri Lanka: President supports demolition of mosque

COLOMBO: Sources have indicated that the Sri Lankan President has initiated a protest campaign against the construction of a mosque in the Dambulla city. Thousands of monks and lay supporters carried out the protest movement and stormed into the mosque claiming it to be an illegal construction inside a Buddhist sacred zone.

The protesters, which included 300 monks and about 1700 lay supporters, chanted slogans in the central city of Dambulla. Police later intervened in order to stop the movement as it gained aggressiveness.

Akmeemana Dayaratna, a monk, stated that a mosque and a Hindu temple are illegal constructions within the remit of a Buddhist zone and must be demolished.
7 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million population are Muslims, 74 percent are Buddhist while 18 percent are Hindus and Christians.

Earlier, it was reported that the protest campaign was organized by Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala Thero on the President’s directives. Thero is an honorific term for fully ordained Buddhist monks in the Buddhist monastic order.

Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala Thero had earlier gathered several supporters stating that the protest was being organized on a Presidential directive.

It has also been learned that a senior official from the Presidential Secretariat had request the concerned district’s secretary to ensure that protest was properly attended and organized by the Samurdhi recipients.

Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala Thero is considered to be a close affiliate of the President. The Thero supports the President by giving positive statements in his favor whenever required. The President, on the other hand, has also been seen returning this favor by granting a Television and radio license to the Thero.

Ven. Inamaluwe Sumangala Thero is an influential character within the Dambulla city. He first gained public attention while protesting against the construction of a Luxury hotel besides the Kandalama tank. However, it has been suspected that the Thero received a hefty amount as the protest ended midway.

Earlier on Friday, Muslims were forced to abandon their prayers amid aggressive protests from Buddhist monks and lay supporters.