25 September, 2023


The Fascist Danger Of BBS Gnanasara

By Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

Dr. Laksiri Fernando

The failure so far to curtail the extremist Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) activities against the Muslim community is a major black mark on the Yahapalana government as it promised to bring peace and reconciliation to the country. It is understood that people’s racial attitudes, hatred or prejudices cannot easily be eliminated just because of a governmental change after an election. However, it is the bounden duty of any government to curtail open extremist activities, spreading hate and incitement against communities. This is more so in the case of a government elected on the promise of good governance, rule of law and justice to all communities and particularly to the vulnerable minorities.

Preaching of Hate

What Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara has demonstrated at the Satyagraha meeting at Mahiyangana on the 21st of this month is not simply expressing his views. It does not cover under the freedom of expression. It is a clear incitement against the Muslim community and a challenge to the rule of law and the law enforcement authorities. He should have been already arrested and brought before the law of the country.

courtesy Foreign Correspondents' Association of Sri Lanka Facebook page

Gnanasara – Photo courtesy Foreign Correspondents’ Association of Sri Lanka Facebook page

His hate against the Muslim community in this instance is very clear. It has been clear even before and throughout his ‘political career.’ He is simply not a proper Buddhist monk in my opinion but a political activist with extremist views and intensions bordering on a fascist ideology and intent.

Gnanasara is always an emotionally charged person often with the use of filthy language. These are clear signs of a fascist lineage. It is typical of a fascist propagandist to lie, distort or make a mountain out of a molehill. He has said “First they threw rotten eggs at our teachers in Madawala, and then they tried to build a mosque which was taller than the height of the Dalada Maligawa.” Who has given him the sole authority to speak on behalf of the Sinhala people or the Buddhists? Even if he has genuine concerns about the said incidents (which I doubt/dispute), threatening the Muslim community in general is not the way to resolve a dispute. The foremost place for Buddhism cannot be the height of the Dalada Maligawa!

Promotion of Incitement

Most alarming is his threat to enact the ‘phase two of Aluthgama.’ This is where his violent and fascist intent is very clear. After referring to possible ‘intelligence officers’ listening to his speech he said, “go and tell the authorities that if they don’t give a solution to what we demand, we will launch the phase two of Aluthgama.” The demand he placed was to release the two young persons in remand who had apparently intimidated the Muslim businesses in the area to close down their shops during a protest. The said protest had apparently organized because of the ‘pulling down of a Buddhist flag’ by a Muslim youth which should also be condemned and consider provocative. However, this is not a recent incident but more of a pretext.

In his speech, he not only attacked the Muslims but also the Tamils. In his speech, he didn’t fail to recall the ‘proverbial mother’! If anyone has concerns about the people in custody, the right place to go is the courts and not the market place. He has always opted to disregard the laws and law enforcement authorities in the country. In addition to fascism, he also demonstrates a complex strand of anarchism. He cannot simply be considered as a proper Buddhist monk.

His most alarming threat of violence was against the police. Referring to the IGP, he said, “If you can’t handle them, tell us, we will take care of them. We only need about 50 people to take care of them, and we are not scared to go behind bars.” He was referring to the Mahiyangana police as ‘them’ and clearly threatening mob violence as he admitted it would place them behind bars. However, such a threat is sufficient enough to arrest him as a precaution and charge him against incitement.

Why Not to Condemn All Monks

Gnanasara’s outburst, violence or fascism should not be a reason to condemn all Buddhist monks. He is in saffron robes, but he is not a proper Buddhist monk in my opinion. What is alarming however is he is flanked by several other ‘Buddhist monks,’ with or without knowing the gravity of what they do or utter. This is a matter to be untangled preferably within the Buddhist Sangha themselves. It is also apparent that Gnanasara is exploiting business enmities between different communities to promote his fascist cause and in this case at Mahiyangana.
It is not unusual for the clergy of different religions or denominations to get involved in politics, extremist movements or even fascism. However, this cannot be considered ‘healthy for religion or for politics.’ Particularly in Hungary during the rise of Fascism in 1930s, there were numerous Catholic priests who went behind Szalasi’s movement. Ference Szalasi was the leader of the Arrow Cross Party which was responsible for the killing and mayhem of thousands of Jews. This is just an example.

This is also the case today of many Imams and other Islamic religious leaders supporting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). However, there are many other Imam’s and leaders condemning or distancing themselves from ISIS. Sri Lanka is fortunate to have moderate or ‘Abangan’ Islamic believers and the government or the public should be mindful of not to push the youngsters to the extremes like in some Western countries which could create a virtual hell as a result of these religious polarizations. That is one reason why lawful action should be taken forthwith against Gnanasara and his gang.

Cambodian Example

In the case of curtailing Buddhist monks going for politics or for extremist politics, there were prohibitions in the Cambodian constitution before 1975 forbidding Buddhist monks even in voting. I think it was influenced by the views of Prince Norodom Sihanouk of that time. However this position changed after the UN inspired new constitution in 1993 without any prohibition. Yet until 2006, the Buddhist Supreme Patriarchs (very much similar to our Sanga Nayakas) banned the Buddhist monks voting or even registering for voting, believing that the ‘monks should not be biased.’

However, in recent times this has changed again. A good number of Buddhist monks are now involved in various social causes like human rights and peace. However, there are no organizations such as the BBS or the 969 Movement of Ashin Wirathu in Mynamar (Burma). This is despite the presence of numerous Cham Muslims or minority Vietnamese in Cambodia. Still the Cambodian Buddhist Supreme Patriarchs hold the moral authority to refrain their respective member monks getting involved in extremist politics or unacceptable ventures contrary to the Buddhist principles. This is part of the Sangha Vinaya (discipline) fairly maintained in Cambodia.

I am not at all advocating a constitutional prohibition of Buddhist monks or other priests getting involved in politics like in pre-1975 Cambodia. However, there should be some constraints within all religions or religious denominations of their clergy men or women getting involved in politics or extremist politics. The case of Gnanasara however is different. He is obviously a potential fascist, who can derail all the good intentions of reconciliation and peace in the country. He is apparently a law breaker and inciter who should be brought before the law.

A Postscript

After finishing the above short peace, I had the occasion to watch an interview of Khaled Abol Naga, the prominent Egyptian actor, producer and the film director over the ABC 24 TV (Australia) this afternoon. When he was asked what he thinks about the reasons for many young people going for the cause of ISIS, he said that “when you leave a small injustice unaddressed, the grievances become accumulated. That is what happened after the creation of Israel neglecting the Palestinians and others.”

“The ISIS however is not the solution but the exacerbation of the problem,” he emphasized. The reason he gave was very common to Buddhism, Christianity or Islam: “hatred begets hatred” (Wairayen Wairaya Nosan Sinde). This is why the rule of law should be administered, for Gnanasara or any other perpetrators, without any hatred or vengeance.

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Latest comments

  • 0

    [Edited out]

    • 2

      Sinhala Banda

      “[Edited out]”


      Thanks for keeping it brief.

  • 4

    Sorry Dr Laksiri Fenando,I am not convinced.

    I still believe that you are being naïve!

    Why the mainstream Buddhist community not interested in committing?

    Why they are indifferent?

    Because their sympathy is with Gnanansara!

    Gnanasara knows very well about this hidden support. That is the reason for him like a hero to come out openly against Muslims.

    This speech had effortlessly made him a hero!Why should he back out?

    He knows very well that the government dare not act against him because, doing so is suicidal to the government.

    Unless the silent majority come out openly and denounce their co- religionist, the entire country will face the consequences.

    That is an unmistakable tragedy.

    • 1


      I think you are taking partially an obvious factor too far. AVB pointed this out before you and even gave an approximate 20-30 percent figure. In his case he raised it as a general question and not a polemical dogma.

      I say partially because I don’t frankly think the whole of the Buddhist community is behind him. If we have the whole of the Buddhist community or even a major part behind Gnanasara then we will probably have fascism, and not Buddhist hegemony that you talk about. It is not so much the person that matters in the broader context but his type. However, his political party, the Buddhist People’s Front (BPF) only managed to obtain 20,377 votes (0.18%) at the last elections.

      The ‘desire for Buddhist hegemony’ is your theory. According to some, even I agree, we already have some form of Buddhist hegemony! This is something we have to diffuse for proper reconciliation, justice and long term peace. Repeating what is obvious does not take us anywhere.

      Of course the inaction so far against Gnanasara is a concern. There can be various reasons for that. One reason can even be your feeling or theory and waiting to tackle the so-called ‘root cause’! Frankly my approach is different. When a patient comes to a doctor with high fever, the first task is to treat the patient to bring down the fever, before investigating the root cause/s.

      Here we have a clear culprit with instigation to launch “the second phase of Aluthgama.” Have you listened to the video? Please do. I am asking the authorities to take action. In your first posting you said “If you ban BBS and arrest Gnansara Theor you are playing into their hands.” There were several other statements like that. You are either scared or naïve. You called him ‘Thero’ – I didn’t. You claimed that I asked the BBS to be banned. I didn’t. Because it is not the issue now. Of course I asked for his arrest. You perhaps unintentionally want to spare him scot-free on the premise that the root cause is much broader (the big picture in your words).

      This is my last posting on the subject. I don’t frankly relish ‘arguing’ with people who have I believe similar views or objectives (peace, reconciliation, justice) too much whatever the reason.

      • 1

        “Frankly my approach is different. When a patient comes to a doctor with high fever, the first task is to treat the patient to bring down the fever, before investigating the root cause/s”

        Oooops !!

        The ‘fever’ is a symptom of the patient’s medical problem.
        The ‘root cause’ is the source of the patient’s medical problem.
        To bring down the fever, a good doctor will investigate and treat the root cause, because as long as the root cause exists, the fever will remain or recur.

  • 1

    The question was for Laksiri Fernando not for you. Your answer is inconsequential as you are not the author.

    • 0

      Sinhala Banda,

      You have asked me a ‘black and white’ Aristotelian answer. But I am giving you a Buddha’s Catuskotian answer. Here it is:

      Sri Lanka is foremost a Buddhist country with a multi-religious society with Hinduism, Islam, Christianity and other believers and non-believers.

      • 0

        This reply is for all those who denigrated Buddhism in Sri Lanka in recent weeks and the Inept politicians.

        Hello Laksiri Fernando;

        “All religions in the world answer the question of what is eternal, including secular humanism,materialism/naturalism and Marxism, which are sometimes given special status but operate for their adherents as sources of meaning (i.e. religions). As religions make claims about what is eternal and develop those claims, challenges arise. They can be internal or external. Within the existing religions, Islam presents an internal challenge to the Christian understanding of God (the nature of God’s justiceand mercy and how that relates to atonement, and the bearing that has on the doctrines of the Trinity- One God, three persons-and the dual nature of Christ-one person, two natures). At the same time, Islam is an external challenge to Hinduism and Buddhism raising questions about the claim that true self is eternal.”- Religion and Violence, Jeffrey Ian Ross, Center for Communitarian Policy Studies.

        Ven. Gnanasara is reacting to this external challenge to Buddhism. The Muslims who arrived in Sri Lanka as guest workers mostly from Southern India have been continuously challenging the essence of Buddhism. The filthy responses and insults directed at Lord Buddha, His teachings and his disciples as a result of your highly biased and vulgar characterization of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka. We are very hurt. You understand Trinity in Christianity; I hope you have the capacity to understand what “Triple Gem” in Buddhism is. “Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha” . We the Buddhists wake up in the morning and worship the Triple Gem, meaning we worship Lord Buddha, His Teachings and His Disciples(Sangha); these three entities are inseparable. You attack one of them that mean you are attacking the core of Buddhism. You have encouraged Non-Buddhists to perform sacrilege. In addition, we pray to have the opportunity to visit Twelve (12) Sacred Buddhist Places (known as SOLOSMASTANA”) in this life as a part of purification of “self”. Mahiyanganaya is one of them. Do we ever ridicule you Laksiri, if you want to visit Vatican or Palestine or the desire of Muslims to visit Mecca? Ven. Gnanasara is confronting the Muslim squatters to preserve and protect environment of one of the SOLOSMASTANA stated in the FOREMOST religion in Sri Lanka for the Buddhists. SOLOSMASTANA must be kept away from Non-Buddhist encroachers.

        I am glad you have given at least a Catuskotian answer, it is your own answer based on Catuskoti argument explained in Buddhism very well. However, I hope you will not attempt to challenge Buddhism as a non-entity in Sri Lanka using the same theory, clever move and it is good for dubious Sri Lankan politicians to justify their position of “Have the cake and eat it (too)” or to justify their behavior of speaking from both sides. Lord Buddha never gave a catuskotian answer when he prophesied that his teachings (Dhamma) will be protected and preserved in the island of LANKA. Therefore, let’s not blur the responsibility of Sinhala Buddhists for Buddhism in Sri Lanka.
        Let me respond to your answer now The meaning of “Foremost” is in many words “Arch, big, capital, cardinal, central, chief, dominant, first, grand, great, greatest, highest, key, leading, main, master, number one numero uno, overbearing, overmastering, overriding, paramount, predominant, preeminent, premier, primal, primary, principal, prior, sovereign (also sovran), supreme , distinguished, eminent, illustrious, noble, notable, noteworthy, outstanding, prestigious, signal, star, stellar, superior; high-level, senior, top; important, influential, major, mighty, momentous, significant; incomparable, matchless, unequaled (or unequalled), unparalleled, unsurpassed; celebrated, famed, famous, renowned”.
        The readers have many options of interpreting the answer given by Laksiri; for me; Sinhala Banda it is “NUMERO UNO”

        You and those who attacked Buddhism have attacked “Numero Uno” religion observed by nearly seventy five percent of the population. You and others may say your attacks were directed against only one individual; Ven. Gnanasara Thero. No my dear fellows, knowingly or unknowingly you attacked core of Buddhism. Would you do the same in the USA, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Ireland, Switzerland, and Austria where Numero Uno is Christianity? Or Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Brunei, Afghanistan where Numero Uno is Islam. I do not have to explain the disastrous consequences. I doubt, Laksiri Fernando and Hilmy Ahmed are foolish enough to encourage sacrilege in the two blocks of above countries by criticizing Christianity and Islam respectively. But both of you within a span of one week denigrated Buddhism in Sri Lanka. We cannot just overlook what you have done but be prepared to save our PREEMINENT (Numero Uno)religion that has been their always to protect and rescue our nation whenever there were internal or external threats to the existence of SINHALA PEOPLE. As devout Buddhists, We will forgive all those (acted under different guises)who attacked us due to their ignorance and misunderstandings about what is Buddhism.

        • 0

          What happened to Buddhism in Afghanistan, Pakistan and even far flung Indonesia, the same thing will happen to Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The way these mad hatters who are caling for fights in the name of religion, and who are acting and behaving like third grade thugs, causing shame on themselves and the Buddhist philosophy in the eyes of the rest of the world, are only digging their own graves. They don’t have policy of live and let live, but as time goes Buddhism and its followers will get more and more diluted, with no one wanting to convert to Buddhism and shunning away from it. But the same is opposite with this monks antagonists, specially on a world wide scale.

  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 2

    This priest was relatively quiet for some time after he was warned by the court that he will face dire consequences if he gets indulged in
    communal politics in the future but after a quiet period of six months or so, he burst out attacking the minorities , not minding a second arrest. In fairness to the Priest, One has to be sure whether he did make such derogatory remarks against the other religions & communities
    recently. The IGP, President,and the PM are so far quiet and this is a clear indication that the Priest has the support of the powerful communal forces in the country, above the three and the govt. must make serious note and get the govt. intelligence service men to probe into the Dutch courage he suddenly gathered to attack the Police & the Govt.in public and this cannot be done without outside help with finance and thugs. Public support is not forthcoming for the Jnt. opposition despite brain washing the people, inducing fear in their minds of a possible division of the country and the current govt.should
    watch out for such groups and extinguish them so that people, at least,
    after the war ended , live in peace and harmony.

  • 5

    Look at the picture of this idiot Gnanasara. He’s got a very small head in proportion to his massive face and neck. That would suggest something about his brain, wouldn’t it?

    Our Prime Minister and the President; they got no guts.

    All the crooks and outright thugs are roaming free, and these two worthies are telling us, the Law will take its own course.

    The Law wont. Because the ‘own course’ is now being diverted faster than the Mahaweli.

    That is what all this delay tell us.

    If these two worthies felt as strongly as they tell us from the rooftops about the unacceptability of the things that happened during Rajapakse watch, they could easily have set up special criminal courts and packed the miscreants away.

    The fact that it hasn’t happened tells us much.

    There is no “normal law” applicable to highly abnormal people and their actions.

  • 1

    The “Liverpool Suda” has made certain comment on that the BBS is Buddhist fascist today even the most foolish of those petty-bourgeois fools can see the that reality of Fascism by Nazi Germany?

    The majority of People of Sri Lankan has been dislocated by war lunch of the LTTE -ruthless Tamil outfit is more or less pattern of partly Fascism.

    These cowardice petty-bourgeoisie writers and their commenters as typified by ex-Trotskyist of L…. Fernando has misled people given wrong interpretation of the line of Fascism.

    Let us for the time being leave affairs of Fascism as a Racism, in hands of comprador capitalist in power since 2015 January 8th by UNP ruling class back by USA, UK and Indian’s RAW.

    Perhaps dislocation of Buddhist will wait until proposed “Federal constitution” by UNP-Ranil.W…. CBK, TNA and JVP combined operation of Assembly meets!

    The day by day facts prove by UNP line of anti-Buddhist will be probably not wait until the Federal Constitution meets and the crash will come early than Fascism of Racism proposed by L..Fernando and his commenter of the Liverpool Suda! !

    Just think what a madhouse in Sri Lankan this is under the UNP rule back by Dr L. Fernando the country is on rocks the people are on the verge of tax increased, natural disasters and Man Made disasters in SALAWA ,there is a shortage funding for development projects and lack of foreign currencies to settle balance of Payment and day light robberies of bonds of the Central Bank by Governor nexus to UNP highest leadership.

    It is that BBS is not fascism, the mounting fascism of while crisis crated catastrophe is drawing even nearer by misrule of UNP leaders and their one of the support by Dr L. Fernando.

    It is high time you Dr L. Fernando has to realised that UNP-Ranil W… CBK and TNA, JVP as parties will have to answer to People for political-economic for ongoing catastrophe?

  • 1

    [Edited out]

  • 3

    People who are non-buddhists should be able to live in a Sinhala-Buddhist country the same way that they live in other countries without trying to topple the dominant religion.

    You will find people flocking in droves to the Middle East for jobs, to America for better economic prospects – some very happy Sinhala Buddhists in America, they even have temples there so they can have it all. Many Sri Lankans have no problem living in a Christian Europe. Christians also will happily flock to the Middle East or other countries for jobs, where they will be a minority and be treated like a minority forever. They don’t try to change the constitution.

    So stop being hypocrites and trying to push Buddhism out of the country like you owned the country.

    Democracy means also accepting the democratically elected government and respecting the constitution. If you are a minority – live with it.

    As a Christian, I see the biggest problem if the violence carried out by people who are not aware of the teachings of their religion and who do not respect their religion. True Buddhism is not a threat to peaceful coexistence.

    • 1

      But that country is not Sinhalese Buddhist. Only the south central and western parts. The north east and the north central coast have always been Tamil Hindu. Just because the British united the Sinhalese and Tamil parts of the island in 1833 and made the Sinhalese who were only living in the southern western and central parts of the island a majority in the island, does not make the island or country Sinhalese Buddhist. It is Sinhalese Buddhist racists like largely descended from imported largely low caste Indian Tamil slave labour during the Portuguese and Dutch era who should come out of this racist mindset and learn the real history of the island, instead of a Mahavamsa fable.

  • 1

    I salute you Dr Fernando. You have called a spade a spade. After reading many comments I wonder where is honesty, integrity, sense of justice. Some lengthy comments are justifying injustice to another community. From a superior point of view of one’s own religion. Islam is one of the major religion in the world, adhered to by billions of Muslims in the world. A mere uncouth priest of the calibre of BBS boss cannot undermine the peace loving Muslims of this country. They are not demanding anything, they are not resorting to any unpatriotic actions in the country. They love this country and love Buddhists of this country, life 99.9% Buddhists are peace loving, wonderful people of this country. We respect and honour majority of Sinhalese and their views and cultures; they are integral part of us. We treat them as our brothers and sisters, we intermingle with them daily basis. BBS is trying to damage this relationship. I appeal to men and women of honesty, integrity and peace loving, and the Yahapalanaya Government to immediately stop his activities to save the country and its people. God Save Sri Lanka.

    • 1

      It is great Non-Buddhists must salute each other for their anti-Buddhist activities in Sri Lanka. It is understood, but it is wise to stay away from our Buddhist Sacred Places. You have said about Sinhala people “they are integral part of us.” No, No fellow you are wrong, we the Sinhala people allowed you to be a part of our proud national fabric as a noble gesture. It is not other way around. You came to our homeland, we the Sinhala-Buddhists received you as guests.

  • 1

    Sinhala Banda

    “As a devout Buddhists”

    Are you?

    You type like a Sinhala/Buddhist bigot and you seem devoted to Sinhala/Buddhism (a parochial perverted political force)than Buddhism.

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