Sri Lanka’s president met with the leader of the extremist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), a Sinhala Buddhist hate group, the day after he was released following a presidential pardon.
Maithripala Sirisena invited Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, the general secretary of the BBS to the President’s official residence at Mahagama Sekara Mawatha in Colombo on Thursday night, just hours after he was released from prison. The monk had been serving a sentence for threatening the wife of the disappeared journalist, Prageeth Ekneligoda.
On his release, the BBS leader was greeted by hundreds of supporters, including dozens of Buddhist monks, with some waving racist Sri Lankan lion flags.
Gnanasara then held a press conference at the BBS headquarters in Rajagiriya, telling reporters that his first priority was to “eradicate Wahabbism” according to Ceylon Today.
“We said about the impending danger long ago, finally whatever we revealed, has become true,” he told reporters, in an apparent reference to the Easter Sunday attacks.
He went on to call on Sri Lankan police to arrest the General Secretary of the All Ceylon Thowheeth Jama'ath (ACTJ) Abdul Razeek, warning that if they did not, the BBS “will find him and do the needful”.
The BBS, and Gnanasara, in particular, is notorious for inflammatory anti-Muslim hate speech and threats of violence. Buddhist monks were amongst those that led mobs in Kandy last year, where Sinhala Buddhists attacked Muslim homes and businesses.
Sirisena has frequently paid patronage to the BBS during his time in office.