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Power behind the throne

Sri Lankan president, Mahinda Rajapaksa

Sri Lanka's Buddhist monks have often played a decisive role in the key issues facing the country, such as the UNHRC resolution on Sri Lanka, the 2009 general elections, and the resumption of armed conflict in 2008

UNP leader Ranil Wickramasinghe

TNA  leader R Sampanthan

See here for more on what has been dubbed the 'angry monk syndrome'.

The Dambulla mosque protests provide yet another glimpse into what drives them.

In an interview with the Sunday Leader, the chief priest at the Rangiri Dambulla Viharaya, Sumangala Thero, who took part in the Dambulla mosque protests, shared his thoughts on the subject.

According to the newspaper, the reporter was reportedly warned of "dire consequences" if she ever stepped foot into Dambulla. 

Excerpts of the interview are reproduced below:

Sunday Leader: When you speak of collective responsibility of the Cabinet, I would like to remind you that in Sri Lanka we have a multi religious, multi cultural and multi ethnic society.

Sumangala Thero: What nonsense. You are speaking of a nonsensical theory. This country has fourteen million buddhists. How many muslims are there? For example in Thailand, the majority are Buddhists. In Myanmar too Buddhists are in the majority. Catholics are a majority at the Vatican. Therefore, we say that the Vatican is a Catholic State. Similarly in the middle east many countries have a Muslim majority. Therefore we call them Islamic States.

Sunday Leader: That is not what I meant. When a society consists of multi religious people practicing different faiths, should they not have equal rights?

Sumangala Thero: Are you trying to wrest away our Buddhist rights? We have respected all. What we have here is none of that. It is about protecting the Buddhist legacy against the wresting of it. There is no need for talking nonsense here. We are fighting to save the 2300 year old Buddhist heritage that is ours! They in turn are trying to wrest away our heritage. Therefore it would be good for all to understand that reality. I am vocal to protect that right and not to wrest away someone else’s right or property. It is the Islamists who are trying something else here. That cannot be allowed. We never went to Iraq or the middle east to wrest the rights of Islamists? This is robbery. You tell the whole country of this position clearly.

See here for interview in full.

See related articles:

The same old story (28 Apr 2012)

Monks and the mob in Dambulla (23 Apr 2012)

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