Sri Lanka jails firebrand Buddhist monk for insulting Muslims

A Sri Lankan court on Thursday sentenced an influential Buddhist monk to four years of hard labor for inciting sectarian hatred against the island’s Muslim minority.

The Colombo High Court found that Galagodaatte Gnanasara had harmed Muslims by making disparaging remarks about Islam at a press conference in 2016.

“The monk was sentenced to four years of hard labor and fined 100,000 rupees ($330),” a court official said. “He was sent to prison to begin serving his sentence.”

Nanasara is accused of inciting violence against Muslims in the Buddhist-majority country, where about 10% of the 22 million people practice Islam.

He has close ties to Myanmar’s extremist monk Wirathu.

This is not the first time Nanasara, who once enjoyed powerful political connections, has been jailed.

In 2018, he was sentenced to six years in prison for threatening the missing cartoonist’s wife and contempt of court, but was released nine months later after being pardoned by former President Maithripala Sirisena.

Former President Gotabaya Rajapaksa later appointed Nanasara to head a panel that recommended legal reforms to ensure religious harmony.

At the time, opposition lawmaker Shanakiyan Rasamanickam described Gnanasara’s committee as “the definition of irony”.

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By Ali Raza

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