Mahinda Rajapaksa
Mahinda Rajapaksa

Colombo: Sri Lanka, a nation inspired by Buddhism for well over 2,500 years, have co-existed peacefully with communities of other faiths despite attempts to create communal tensions from time to time, President Mahinda Rajapaksa has said.

“There are various groups who try to create differences in order to undermine our Buddhist values,” he said.

“We are a nation familiar with co-existence,” Rajapaksa said, while addressing a Buddhist gathering in the southern province.

His comments coincided with the interrogation of a hardline Buddhist monk Galagodaatte Gnanasara of the extremist Bodu Bala Sena group.

Gnanasara was grilled yesterday for over five hours over an alleged anti-Muslim inflammatory speech at the southwestern coastal town of Aluthgama.

BBS or the Forces of Buddhist Power headed by Gnanasara was accused of being behind the anti-Muslim riots on June 15 that killed at least four persons and injured nearly 100 people.

“Properties owned by Muslim were subject to arson attacks. There was a campaign to tarnish the good image of the Buddhists. No one will benefit from discriminating against other religions,” Rajapaksa said, adding that there are elements who want to see the country burning with communal flames.

The opposition and Muslim groups charged police with inaction to quell the riot.

The government had vehemently rejected accusations that it was backing the BBS in their campaign of Muslim hatred.

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