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Evangelical alliance criticizes treatment of religious minorities in Sri Lanka

August 31, 2012

NEW DELHI

A senior leader of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) has expressed concern over the treatment of religious minorities by a section of the Buddhist majority in Sri Lanka.

Citing “growing intolerance,” Godfrey Yogarajah, executive director of the Religious Liberty Commission of WEA, told ENInews Aug. 20 from Colombo that “we are asking the government to clamp down on such arrogance by the majority community. In a democratic country, everyone’s rights should be upheld.”

A Sri Lankan national, Yogarajah spoke to ENInews commenting on the Aug. 17 statement of the Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (EASL) that expressed “anguish over recurring incidents of religious intolerance against minority communities.”

The statement noted several incidents — a pastor of the Assemblies of God who was waylaid near Deniyaya along with his wife. He was beaten in the presence of Buddhist monks and his motorcycle was damaged, it said.

Hooligans also threatened the house of a woman Christian worker from the Methodist Church, and another church worker was also threatened, the EASL statement added.

“Christians are not the only ones to be attacked like this. Earlier, mosques have been attacked. Such attacks by the majority community on minorities do not bode well for Sri Lanka,” Yogarajah said.

Sinhala-speaking Buddhists account for nearly 70 percent of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people while ethnic Tamil speaking Hindus account for 15 percent of the population. Christians and Muslims equally comprise the remaining 15 percent.

In another incident, a mob led by a senior Buddhist monk and army officials in plainclothes had removed an iconic Hindu statue from the Panamai temple in eastern district of Amparai. The centuries-old Hindu idol was later installed at the Buddhist pagoda in the area and police refused to act on the Hindus’ complaint, according to reports.

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