The Sri Lankan Government is likely to ban the latest edition of the Time Magazine after political Buddhist groups have taken offence at an article appearing on the news magazine’s cover, Colombo Telegraph learns.
The Bodu Bala Sena Group has lobbied the Media Ministry and Secretary to the Ministry of Defence Gotabhaya Rajapaksa to ensure the offending issue never reaches the news stands in Sri Lanka, Media Ministry sources said.
The cover story on the July 1 issue of Time Magazine is entitled ‘The Face of Buddhist Terror and features Myanmar’s extremist monk Wirathu, who has been accused of stoking anti-Muslim sentiments with his 969 movement, launched in February, which calls on Buddhists to boycott Muslim shops and businesses. There have been at least three anti-Muslim riots this year in central and northern Myanmar, leaving thousands homeless. In June 2012, Buddhist communities in the Rakhine State attacked Rohingya Muslims, leaving 167 people dead and 125,000 people homeless.
Media Ministry Secretary Charitha Herath is reportedly consulting with Media Minister Keheliya Rambukwella about how to approach the issue.
According to Ministry sources, the BBS is demanding that Herath consult with the Defence Secretary to tear off the cover story in the magazine before it is allowed on the newsstands in Sri Lanka. If the ban goes ahead, this will be the first time an international magazine is banned in Sri Lanka for a story that has nothing to do with Sri Lanka directly. Sources said the Government is planning to ban the online version of the story as well. The Colombo Telegraph has been unable to reach Charitha Herath for comment.
The Myanmar government has already banned the issue. “The article entitled ‘The Face of Buddhist Terror’ in Time magazine July 1 issue is prohibited from being produced, sold or and distributed in original copy or photocopy in order to prevent further racial and religious conflicts,” Myanmar government spokesman Ye Htut posted on his Facebook page.