By Dharisha Bastians
The Bodu Bala Sena will launch a campaign of agitation for the Halal Certification to be withdrawn completely tomorrow, representatives of the organisation said yesterday, adding that if their call goes unanswered, they will go door to door to bring pressure on the certifying body and the Government to ensure the certification process is halted.
Addressing a media conference at the Buddhist Cultural Centre yesterday, Bodu Bala Sena General Secretary Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara Thera charged that the All Ceylon Jamaithul Ulema (ACJU) was engaged in a separatist campaign to divide religious communities in the island.
“It is not the BBS that created extremism in this country. The separatism that Prabhakaran could not achieve, the ACJU has managed to achieve in Sri Lanka today. The Muslim clergy have divided this society into two and built mistrust between religious communities,” the monk charged, hitting back at remarks by an Opposition politician on Wednesday.
“It is a simple thing of having two display units for Halal and non-Halal food. Non Muslims have no use for Halal foods.
We certainly should never offer food dedicated to their God in our offerings to the Buddha,” he said.
He said if the trend continues, Christians would begin placing symbols of the crucifix on food products, and Buddhists the dharmachakra.
The organisation’s representatives also vehemently denied that they had launched a poster campaign against the Muslim community. “We can if we want to. We will go door to door to make sure this Halal certification is stopped – that is our right,” the monk-led group said, reiterating however that they intended to continue their campaign against Halal food products in peaceful ways.
“Politicians who cast allegations at us about these poster campaigns must understand that this is the nature of a national movement; today the Bodu Bala Sena have given this country a goal,” Gnanasara Thero said.
He said the Bodu Bala Sena had “awakened a sleeping race” and rekindled Buddhist pride. This was terrifying forces in the country that were huddled in corners and plotting to spread fundamentalism and extremism, the monk charged. “It is this renaissance of the Sinhala Buddhists that will defeat them,” he told the news conference.
The group also acknowledged that there may have been certain incidents of misconduct reported against the Muslim community, but dismissed them as being ordinary parts of a social movement. “There is nothing we can do about that. We cannot control it but we have never acted against the Muslim community,” the monks said.
“The Bodu Bala Sena will go from strength to strength; we have the social capital to do that. And whether they are in the Government or Opposition, all those who attack the Sinhalese and Buddhists will be grouped together and defeated,” Gnanasara Thero claimed.
Another Buddhist monk addressing the press conference said that the Halal Certification issue was a symbol of growing Islamification of the country. “When the Muslims were just two per cent of the population, they were as quiet as kittens. Now that their population has increased, they are trying to impose their ritualistic food products upon this country. The next plan is to bring about Sharia law. Already there is Muslim banking system in the country,” the representative said.
Gnanasara Thero said it was unfair that while other people in the country had to pay interests on bank loans, the Muslims did not have to do so because of special concessions being made to them by the banks.
The monks said that it was apparent that links were emerging between those politicians and organisations that were casting allegations of extremism at the Bodu Bala Sena and the ACJU.