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More equal than others – Sri Lanka’s PM on Buddhism

Photograph: ColomboPage

Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister repeated his assurance that whilst all religions will be treated equally in Sri Lanka, Buddhism would continue to hold the foremost place on the island.

Speaking at the eighth Conference of the Association of SAARC Speakers and Parliamentarians at the Colombo Hilton on Wednesday, Ranil Wickremesinghe said that Buddhism would still have the “first and foremost place”.

The Daily Mirror also reported the prime minister as stating Sri Lanka “can’t be divided and should be one” in his keynote address at the opening ceremony.

Last week the prime minister told a group of United National Party (UNP) members that a proposed constitution for the island would continue to ensure that state holds a duty to protect and foster Buddhism, a position he has emphasised repeatedly.

An interim report by a steering committee established to work towards drafting a new constitution for Sri Lanka had two formulations for Buddhism on the island.

On the role of Buddhism on the island, the report states:

"The following formulations may be considered:

- Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Article 10 and 14(1)(e).

OR

- Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while treating all religions and beliefs with honour and dignity, and without discrimination, and guaranteeing to all persons the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Constitution"