“Muslim people don’t love us… I say don’t go to those shops. Don’t eat or drink from those shops…. It is clear that they are a group who gave poison to our people, who tried to destroy our people… I think that the younger generation who eats (from them) will not have children in the future…. Also everyone knows what a doctor-gentleman did in Matale. Lakhs of our children were destroyed. These traitors should not be allowed to live free. Some upasakammas said they must be stoned to death (gal gahala maranna ona). I don’t say that. But that is what should be done… Laws and regulations won’t work.”
– The Most Venerable Maha Nayake of the Asgiriya Chapter (https://youtu.be/P7AVLSm2I_Aset – Translation mine)
Once upon a not-so-long-ago time, evil fundamentalists devised a vile plot to tarnish the pristine image of venerable monks by infecting them with HIV. “I got information that fundamentalists at a meeting in Kurunegala had decided to eliminate Buddhism from this country,” Ellawala Medhananda thero, leader of the JHU claimed. “Part of their plan is to infect the monks with the HIV virus” (The Sunday Times – 19.8.2007).
This was 2007; and the fundamentalist enemy plotting and planning to ‘eliminate Buddhism from this country’ was not Muslim but Christian. Their chosen weapon against Sinhala-Buddhists was conversion, supplemented by vilification and murder. “Fundamentalist groups had made videos showing young men dressed in yellow robes of a Buddhist monk in intimacy with women,” Ellawala Medhananda Thero claimed (The Sunday Times – 19.8. 2007).
When Gangodawila Soma Thero joined the ranks of those felled by the Russian Winter (including the great Napoleon’s army), his death was called murder, and Christians, his murderers. Just days after his demise, the Sasana Sevaka Sangamaya, a lay organization formed by Soma Thero claimed that Christian fundamentalists who killed him are also planning to kill Ellawala Medananda Thero, and have paid US $24,000 to achieve this aim.
As late as in December 2009, Christian fundamentalists were accused of murdering a monk who was endeavouring to stop a wave of Christianisation in Anuradhapura. A video claiming that Ratmalane Seelavansa Thero, the head of Soma Himi Chinthana Padanama (Soma Thero Thinking Foundation), was murdered by the modern day crusaders is still available on the internet. The Videos is tellingly titled, This is how Christian fundamentalists kill Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka.
Gangodawila Soma Thero was the godfather of that wave of anti-Christianity. It reached the zenith of insanity in the months after his death. At his funeral, several monks called for a holy war. Two months later, at a gathering of the Jathika Sangha Sammelanaya, Omalpe Sobhita thero identified Tiger terrorism and missionary terrorism as the two main and coeval challenges facing Sri Lanka. He also claimed that the LTTE was a Christian movement. Soon afterwards, Lakshman Kadirgamar felt compelled to issue a public statement denying a rumour that he was a Jehovah’s Witness, a grim warning about the degree to which the germs of religious hysteria and intolerance had permeated the country.
This relentless fear mongering about Christians caused a spike in attacks on churches in late 2003 and early 2004. A report on the fate of an old established Catholic Church in Pannipitiya, a few miles away from Colombo, makes chilling reading. A mob, including two monks, descended on Our Lady of Lourdes Church on December 28th morning. They “broke in through the doors by force and demolished our crosses, the crucifix, lamp shades, roof, organ stand and the pews” (UCA News – 1.2.2004). The mob, which also dismembered statues of the Virgin Mary in the church’s grotto, reportedly assembled at a nearby Buddhist temple earlier that morning. That same modus operandi would be used a decade later against Muslim businesses and religious establishments.
This is not ancient history, but vignettes from the very recent past. Just 12 years ago, Christian fundamentalist doctors were accused of planning to infect monks with HIV. The accusation might seem laughable now, but then it was no laughing matter. The accusation wasn’t backed by even an iota of evidence, but that lack didn’t bother the true believers. They were willing to believe anything about Christians then, just as they are willing to believe anything about the Muslims now.
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