The BBS and the Rev. Gnanasara Thero have been the focus of many issues in the recent past over the Aluthgama incident. Many have criticised the monk for his aggressive nature and have called for his arrest and the banning of the organisation after the incident.
In an interview with The Sunday Leader the Rev. Gnanasara Thero said that in order to make the country pay attention to what he was trying to reveal concerning the threat of the extremist Muslim Organisations that the country faces, he had to make a loud noise.
Excerpts of the interview:
Q: Many quarters have called for the banning of the BBS and for your arrest for the incidents that took place in Aluthgama and Beruwela recently. How would you respond to this call?
A: In my own simple language what I have to say is that I have no time to respond to calls made by these mad people. What is the basis of their allegations and what have we done that deserves the banning of our organisation? We have not assaulted anyone, set fire to anyone’s property, damaged any churches or mosques or done any such things.
All we have done is vocalizing our concerns in open forums regarding the threats of certain extremist elements that the country faces. If our actions to reveal the enemy forces are the wrong we have done, then let them ban us or remand us.
What we are doing is what these ministers who have been brought to power by the mandate of the people to safeguard the security and sovereignty of this country, should have been doing in the first place.
Had they done their duty instead of being immersed in their own ministries, we would not have to do what we did. These ministers, when they have failed in their duties, are accusing us without understanding first the ground reality of things that are happening. We are very saddened by their stance as we are not clear on what basis they want us banned.
Q: There are speculations that Jihardists are operating in Sri Lanka, which has been one of the major concerns for the BBS as well. However the military has vehemently denied these charges and said that there are no Jihardists within Sri Lanka. What is your opinion?
A: Well the military cannot speak openly about certain matters like politicians do. We have a great amount of respect and regard for the military, police and the intelligence establishments for defeating terrorism.
But we are in agreement with the statement made by Minister Patali Champika Ranawaka regarding the existence of Jihardists within the country. They have yet to spread in a large way here, but there are several mushrooming organisations, which is a clear indication of the existence and the threats that we could face in the future if they are not detected. Over the past two years we have revealed several matters and today these have been proved right.
Not only Jihardists but there are also several extremist Muslim organisations that are spreading the germs of extremism in the country. In fact even the increasing Muslim population is a huge problem for us. But we have not protested against that increase. However our concerns are that they are converting Tamil and Sinhalese women to Islam. That is being done in unethical ways, such as through cheating them, rape and deliberate brainwashing. We see these are also as elements of extremism.
For instance the Thowheed Jamath is a very dangerous organisation, and very responsibly we can say that they have received weapons training and have links to Tamil Nadu. Moreover these organisations could be used by those who want to destabilise and divide this country. Even when they ridiculed Buddhism and Lord Buddha saying He consumed meat, we did nothing. We have only complained to the police very democratically.
Q: You have been known for your aggressive manner in which you speak, and many have accused you of behaviour unbecoming to a Buddhist Monk. What is your response to these charges?
A: There have been many books written on the dangers of Jihardism in this region and also other extremist organisations that have threatened world peace. However in spite of the impending dangers, no one has taken any action to deal with this issue. We are a nation that has suffered for 30 years because of the war. We too tried at first to hold discussions and try to resolve these issues gently and amicably.
However when no one heeded our concerns, we had to resort to a more aggressive manner to make our concerns heard. We did not take up arms, but instead we only said it out loudly and now we are found fault with because we tried to highlight this threat. Due to our openness as monks we have come forth and said what we felt loudly. We have not held secret meetings overseas and have not betrayed the country in any manner.
People can ridicule and punish us in any manner they want but some day they will realise what we tried to do was for the betterment of the country. You should not worry about the shape of the bell but instead focus on the message it is trying to convey by its loud chime.
Q: There are allegations that the violence in Aluthgama was triggered by your speech made during the rally. Do you accept this charge?
A: This is a completely wrong notion. We did stage the rally but we also calmed the people in the area and the violence began only about two hours after the rally ended.
This whole incident occurred only after the people coming from Dharga town were attacked by some Muslims from within the mosque. Unfortunately even certain media organisations and the international media twisted the whole story and put the blame on us. They distorted the whole incident to make us look like the perpetrators.
The media in this country too shamelessly distorted the truth to bring us to disrepute. We have held rallies in various parts of the country and these have never triggered any violence anywhere.
Q: With regard to the incident involving Rev. Watareka Thero, he has stated that he who tried to unite the people is behind bars today while you who have incited violence are walking freely. How would you respond to this allegation?
A: Firstly, I don’t want to waste my breath talking about such sinful characters that are blatant liars and a shame to the country and the robe. However I must mention that while I was trying to reveal the threats faced by the country from these extremist Muslim parties, they wanted to silence me and the BBS, but when they failed in their sinister motives, they even used monks to achieve their goals.
I have never spoken to that shameless monk and have never even met him face to face, let alone threaten him. (Sunday Leader)