Buddhist extremists hold first meeting after Easter attacks in Sri Lanka

Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero (R), head of the hardline Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or "Buddhist Power Force", speaks at the Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic before the Buddhist monks convention in Kandy, Sri Lanka July 7. 2019. (REUTERS)
Updated 08 July 2019

Buddhist extremists hold first meeting after Easter attacks in Sri Lanka

  • Many shopkeepers and restaurant owners in Kandy said they planned to close their establishments on Sunday for fear of violence

KANDY: Police lined the streets of the Sri Lankan highland town of Kandy on Sunday and the army was on standby as hard-line Buddhist monks gathered for their first big assembly since Easter attacks by Islamist extremists on churches and luxury hotels.
Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the influential head of the Buddhist nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), had called for as many as 10,000 clergymen from across the country to attend the meet.
The group said the gathering discussed who to back in the presidential elections later this year in the Indian Ocean island nation where Buddhists make up about 70 percent of the population. The rest include ethnic Tamils, who are mostly Hindus, and Muslims.
Dressed in orange, Gnanasara visited one of Buddhism’s most sacred temples in Kandy on Sunday where a relic believed to be the Buddha’s tooth is kept. Later, the hard-liner, who has faced allegations of inciting violence against Muslims, addressed the gathering.
After visiting the temple, he told reporters they would take a “historical decision” to give leadership for the development and security of the Sinhalese.
“Today, the Sinhala ethnicity, which has developed this country historically, has become very weak ... There is no leader who holds responsibility for Sinhalese,” he said adding some people were trying to sabotage the convention by spreading fears of possible riots.

FASTFACT

• There has been increasing anti-Muslim violence in the country in recent weeks, blamed in part on Buddhist groups, in apparent reprisal for the April bombings claimed by Daesh that killed more than 250 people.

• Muslims have become fearful of a backlash, especially from hard-line groups such as the BBS that are leading the campaign against extremism.

“The army is assisting the police on security under the emergency law,” military spokesman Sumith Atapattu said, adding soldiers were on alert should trouble erupt.
There has been increasing anti-Muslim violence in the country in recent weeks, blamed in part on Buddhist groups, in apparent reprisal for the April bombings claimed by Daesh that killed more than 250 people.
Muslims have become fearful of a backlash, especially from hard-line groups such as the BBS that are leading the campaign against extremism.
Many shopkeepers and restaurant owners in Kandy said they planned to close their establishments on Sunday for fear of violence.


Player, spectators stabbed in Sydney rugby league violence

Updated 35 min 11 sec ago

Player, spectators stabbed in Sydney rugby league violence

SYDNEY: One man has been charged and another remains under police guard in a hospital after a low-tier rugby league game in Sydney ended with one player allegedly stabbed another competitor and two spectators.
Australian Associated Press reported Monday that New South Wales state police had arrested and charged a 20-year-old man with affray and assault occasioning actual bodily harm. The man was due to face court Monday.
Police and emergency services were called to Old Saleyards Reserve in North Parramatta on Sunday following reports of an assault after an under-20s community game between Wentworthville Magpies and Penrith Brothers.
A 19-year-old player and two spectators, aged 16 and 22, were injured during the incident and the injured men remain in Westmead Hospital.
New South Wales Rugby League chief executive David Trodden described the incident as “sickening criminal behavior.”
“Everyone who enjoys community sport at the weekend should expect to be able to do in a safe environment and it is nothing short of appalling that an incident like this has taken place in an area adjacent to where one of our matches was being conducted,” Trodden said in a statement.
NSW Ambulance Inspector Nathan Sheraton said paramedics provided life-saving treatment.
“When we arrived at the scene it was very alarming — these were brutal attacks,” he said in a statement.
Both teams have been stood from the competition down pending the police investigation.