A US Government report released today said that local media in Sri Lanka and NGOs have noted strong linkages between the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and the government.
The International Religious Freedom Report for 2013 noted in its Executive Summary that the BBS continued to promote its anti-Muslim campaign, which was linked to violent activities last year.
The report released at the US State Department by US Secretary of State John Kerry noted that according to numerous reports, the BBS was also behind a growing wave of anti-Muslim activities carried out by other violent Buddhist nationalist groups.
“Nationalist groups were allegedly involved in a series of attacks on mosques, protests over animal slaughter, and a sustained attempt to further marginalize Muslims by outlawing the halal system of meat certification,” the Executive Summary of the report said.
On Sri Lanka, the report says although the government officially endorsed religious freedom, in practice there were problems in specific areas.
The report said that in 2013 there were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Societal discrimination and violence against religious minorities increased markedly.
“Although members of different religious groups were generally tolerant of each other’s religious beliefs, there was evidence of growing distrust and fear, particularly on the part of religious minorities. Attacks on churches and mosques increased,” it said.
The report said that US embassy officials regularly conveyed concerns about religious freedom, particularly attacks on churches and mosques, to government leaders at the most senior levels and urged them to arrest and prosecute the perpetrators.
The Ambassador and other embassy officials also met frequently with representatives from a broad spectrum of religious groups to discuss a wide range of religious freedom concerns. (Colombo Gazette)