Gnanasara Thera unfazed by Saudi event criticism

By Buddhika Samaraweera

Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) General Secretary Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thera said that he would not take any notice of the criticism and sarcasm on social media platforms, particularly on Facebook, regarding his participation in an event to mark the Saudi National Day on Friday (23).

Commenting on the social media posts in question to The Morning, he said: “Anyone can criticise or use sarcasm, but who cares about them? When they think they have had enough, they will stop. People in this country only know to sarcastically criticise, but I do not care.”

Gnanasara Thera, who is known to have ideas that in most cases are not in favour of minorities including Muslims, had participated in an event organised for the Saudi National Day held at a leading hotel in Colombo on Friday (23). It was reported that he had attended the event as a special guest on the invitation of the Saudi ambassador to Sri Lanka.

Following the incident, both critical and sarcastic posts have been circulating on social media platforms regarding his participation in the Saudi National Day event. Some posts are being circulated on Facebook saying that allowing him to participate in that event is an insult to the Muslim community of the country.

Some other social media posts that were seen by The Morning had asked the Saudi Arabian Embassy in Sri Lanka whether there was no other person for them to invite to the National Day event. Another post regarding the same read that inviting such a person who has been acting against the Muslim community for many years, in a highly racist manner, is “disgusting”.

Together with some Buddhist monks, Gnanasara Thera formed the BBS – an organisation that statedly aims to “lead the Sri Lankan nation in protecting, safeguarding, and sustaining Buddhist social values in the face of dynamic global change”. 

Furthermore, speaking to the media in 2015, he stated that “Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhalese, and it is the Sinhalese who built up its civilisation, culture, and settlements, while the Whites (Westerners) created all the problems.” 

He further added that most of the country’s problems are due to the “outsiders” – referring to the minorities.

Moreover, the Presidential Commission of Inquiry (CoI) which investigated the Easter Sunday terror attacks of 2019 has concluded in its final report that some of the speeches made by Gnanasara Thera did not stop at targeting the Wahhabis ideology, but went further targeting the Muslim community in general. 

The CoI has also stated that some of his actions and utterances have contributed to Muslim youth taking to extremism, and in turn, joining Mohamed Cassim Mohamed Zaharan, who led the said terror attacks. Therefore, the CoI has recommended that the BBS organisation be proscribed, and legal action be taken against Gnanasara Thera.

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