Sri Lanka’s Buddhist Extremists Threaten BBC and Muslim Journalists
Feb 18, Colombo: BBC Sri Lanka Correspondent Charles Haviland said that he and his crew were threatened while they were filming a rally of Sinhala Buddhist extremist organization Bodu Bala Sena yesterday at Maharagama.
The hardline Sinhalese Buddhist group called Bodu Bala Sena held a protest rally Sunday at Maharagama to call for the abolition of the Halal certification of foods and asked the business owners to remove Halal certified food from their stores by March 31.
“As we finished filming at the rally, our three-member BBC team and driver were seriously threatened with violence by some members of a mob of more than 20 young men who told us not to drive off,” Haviland said in a statement.
“Some police arrived and looked on as my Sri Lankan colleagues were verbally abused in filthy language, described as “traitors” and accused of having “foreign parents” and working for a “foreign conspirator” who was “against Sri Lanka”,” Haviland said.
The protesters have threatened the newsman and his crew and warned them not to return to the location.
A reporter from the Navamini Muslim newspaper was also harassed by the crowd and handed over to the Maharagama police. Police detained the reporter until 8:30 p.m. before releasing him.
The Sri Lankan government and the Muslim clerics’ organizations have repeatedly said that Halal certification is voluntary for Sri Lankan businesses and it is necessary when Sri Lanka exports food items to European, Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries.
The President has also urged the extremist Buddhist group not to arouse communal disharmony inciting violence.