Buddhist Nationalists Emboldened by Rajapaksa Victory in Sri Lanka
12/02/2019 Sri Lanka (International Christian Concern) – In November 2019, Gotabaya Rajapaksa was elected as the new president of Sri Lanka. Buddhist nationalists, especially those connected with the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS), or Army of Buddhist Power, were excited by the election of Rajapaksa because they believe his rise to power will usher in a regime sympathetic to their cause.
“We have built an ideology that the country needs a Sinhala leader who does not bow to minorities,” Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara, a BBS leader and Buddhist monk, recently told the media. “Now this ideology has won.”
Throughout the presidential campaign, the BBS worked hard to promote Rajapaksa. These Buddhist nationalists have accused Sri Lanka’s previous government of paying too much attention to Sri Lanka’s minority communities, including Muslims, Hindus, and Christians.
From 2005 to 2015, Mahinda Rajapaksa, Gotabhaya’s older brother, was Sri Lanka’s president and oversaw a regime in which attacks on religious and ethnic minorities were common. Many of these attacks were perpetrated by the BBS.
The BBS was alleged to have the protection of the previous Rajapaksa regime. Many minorities fear that the radical group will once again be given a free hand to attack religious minority communities now that the Rajapaksa family has returned to power.
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