25 July 2019
While doing his research as a professor of security studies, Professor Rohan Gunaratna met and interviewed Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, head of the Sri Lankan Buddhist nationalist group Bodu Bala Sena, in early 2014. As a Buddhist, Prof Gunaratna paid his respects to the monk, although he was reluctant to do so due to the monk’s anti-Muslim views. But the academic took the opportunity to make his position clear. “I told the monk – if you continue to call the Muslims pariah – there will be a riot like in July 1983.
“And this monk told me, this is exactly what must happen,” said Prof Gunaratna, who is from the Nanyang Technological University’s S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies. In July 1983, dubbed “Black July”, anti-Tamil riots in Sri Lanka resulted in hundreds of people from the ethnic minority group being killed. When asked about his ideology, Mr Gnanasara told Prof Gunaratna that it was from Myanmar Buddhist monk Ashin Wirathu, Hindu right-wing group Shiv Sena, the British National Party, and French far-right leader Marine Le Pen – all of whom have made incendiary remarks on Islam and Muslims.
Prof Gunaratna said he told the monk then that these had nothing to do with religion. He related this anecdote yesterday to around 200 academics, policymakers, security practitioners and religious leaders at a forum at Orchard Hotel, as an example of how political movements are “misusing and abusing religion” .
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 26/07/2019