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Sri Lankan High Commission accuses travel quiz of ‘propagating terrorism’

The Sri Lankan High Commission in London has lashed out at The Guardian this week, accusing the paper of “a sinister attempt to propagate the ideology of a proscribed terrorist outfit” after it published a travel quiz on islands around the world this week.

“From the Hebrides to Antipodes … how are you on islands, isles and islets – archipelago-go-go or just no-no-no?,” read the quiz, which gets published every Friday on The Guardian’s travel section.

The Sri Lankan High Commission was clearly the latter. Within hours of the quiz’s publication online, the embassy had written to the paper stating it had provided “inaccurate and unverified content” and demanded an apology.

The question that seemed to cause such offence asked, “Eelam is an indigenous name for which popular holiday island?”.

It went on to reveal that “the full name of the island’s recent military insurgency was LTTE – Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam”.

Sri Lanka’s High Commissioner to the UK Saroja Sirisena claimed that the word “Eelam” has “never been used as an indigenous name for Sri Lanka” and said it “appears to be a sinister attempt to propagate the ideology of a proscribed terrorist outfit,” by the newspaper.

Though the question was eventually taken down from the quiz, it marked yet another occasion that the Sri Lankan High Commission in London has expressed its outrage at perceived slights. In 2011, a London restaurant named the ‘Greedy Buddha’ was bombarded with abusive emails and letters, after the Sri Lankan High Commission lodged a complaint against its apparently offensive name. It had even conducted a summit with Thai, Myanmar and Nepal embassies in London to discuss the restaurant in question.

And in 2018, as the Tamil Eelam football team took part in the CONIFA World Football Cup in London, the High Commission once more lodged its protest, writing to the organisers and demanding the team be expelled. The team went on to play the opening game, with the tournament receiving widespread coverage in mainstream international media.