A Muslim shrine in Sri Lanka was destroyed by a group of Buddhist monks last week.
BBC reported that the incident occurred on Saturday in Anuradhapura, an ancient Buddhist city and a Unesco world heritage site.
A monk, Amatha Dhamma Thero, who participated in the demolition explained to BBC that the Muslim shrine was located on property given to Sinhalese Buddhists 2,000 years ago.
However, according to local reports the destruction was condemned by both Singhalese and Muslims alike.
Thero told BBC that he and 100 other monks from various Asian nations destroyed the Islamic shrine because Muslims in the country were seeking to convert the locale into a mosque.
BBC reported also that Thero said local police witnessed the attack, but did nothing to stop it.
However, police officials deny the story.
This is a fabricated story. No media in Sri Lanka has reported this and we don't have any police report. If this happened there would have been a complaint. We have not received any complaint, police spokesman Prishantha Jayakody told BBC.
A prominent local Muslim, Abdul Razack said the shrine was 300 years old should have been protected. A Sinhalese politician Aruna Dissanayake said the government should punish the desecrators, adding that a minority of troublemakers were seeking to foment sectarian violence on the island nation.
Muslims are a distinct minority in Sri Lanka, which is dominated by Buddhists. According to official data, Buddhists account for about 70 percent of the country’s population, followed by Hindus (15 percent); Christians (7.5 percent); and Muslims (7.5 percent).
Nonetheless, a prominent Muslim journalist, Latheef Farook, recently penned a newspaper column in which he accused some of the Sinhalese Buddhist majority of inciting a campaign of hatred against Muslims in Sri Lanka.
Writing in the Sunday Times Sri Lanka, Farook wrote “There is a growing feeling and fear among Sri Lanka's Muslims that a sinister campaign has been underway inciting the Sinhalese against them. The campaign portrays Sri Lanka's Muslims as a threat to Buddhism, the Sinhala people, their culture and the country as a whole.”
He added: “All that the country needs now is a concerted effort to bring communities together and move ahead as one nation. Instead this potentially destructive campaign could drag the country back to the dark years. It is common knowledge that some hard-line elements openly demand that the Tamils should leave for Tamil Nadu [India] and the Muslims for Saudi Arabia, leaving Sri Lanka only to the Sinhala Buddhists.”
Sri Lanka emerged from a 25-plus-year ethnic civil war pitting the native Sinhalese against the minority Tamils.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.