BBS Turns Towards The Economy
- Islamic banking system, if implemented, will spell economic disaster says BBS
By Ashanthi Warunasuriya
One of the major topics of discussion today is whether or not Sri Lanka needs a religious banking system. The Sinhala Buddhist extremist group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) first voiced concern over this issue by sending a letter to the Auditor General giving reasons why such a banking system should not be introduced in the country.
The BBS letter made it clear they had received information of an attempt to obtain a loan to the extent of US$ 1 billion in order to stave off the economic decline the country is facing at present. The loan, the letter states, will be given subject to Sri Lanka agreeing to introduce and implement the Islamic Banking System in the country. The letter further states that initial steps in this regard have already been taken.
BBS Chief Executive Officer, Dilantha Vithanage says the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP) and the United National Party (UNP) that have ruled the country since Independence should take responsibility for putting the country into the grave economic decline we are witnessing today. Therefore, they must not drag the country into further chaos by introducing a religious banking system, he says.
Vithanage said the Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka had visited the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and fulfilled preliminary conditions to obtain a loan from its Islamic Development Bank to the extent of US$ 1 billion. The BBS Chief Executive further said Saudi authorities have put forward terms and conditions in order to grant the loan, one of them being that the domestic banking system be changed in accordance with Sharia banking law. If that happens, the country will face major issues in the future, Vithanage said.
The February 26 letter had drawn the attention of President Maithripala Sirisena resulting in the Presidential Office seeking clarification from the Secretary of the Ministry of National Policy and Economic Affairs, W.I. M. Ranjith, as to whether the Ministry has taken any steps to implement a religious banking system in the country. The Presidential Office has also instructed the Ministry to submit a report on the BBS claim within two weeks.
“Wahhabism, the official religion of Saudi Arabia, is an extremely virulent, narrow and militant interpretation of Islam. Over the last few decades, Saudi Arabia has spent more than US$ 100 billion on spreading Wahhabism to all corners of the globe,” Vithanage said. He said thousands of mosques, seminaries, universities, schools, and community centres have been built, while thousands of preachers, teachers, and activists have been educated, trained, and dispatched across the world along with Wahhabism approved text books and literature. The BBS said according to M.C.A. Hameed, President of the All Ceylon Thareekathul Mufliheen, a Sufi order whose name means ‘path of the fearless victorious,’ Sri Lankan Muslims began to seek employment in Saudi Arabia, and many young Sri Lankan Muslims were awarded scholarships by Saudi Universities. Those who completed their studies returned to Sri Lanka and propagated the ideology of Wahhabism. To pursue their goal, the sect resorted to violence: intimidation, killing and destruction. The All Ceylon Thareekathul Mufliheen was not spared and had to face many hardships.
Security experts are increasingly pointing fingers at the Wahhabi ideology that is being aggressively exported by Saudi Arabia as the single biggest cause for spreading extremism in the world. Unquestionably, the Saudi-Wahhabi nexus has become the greatest single threat to peace and stability in the world today. Across Sri Lanka, religious terror has been correspondingly radicalised. The tolerant Sufi Muslims have been overtaken by the rise of the more hardline and politicised Wahhabism. Sri Lankan cricketers were ambushed in Lahore by armed Wahhabi Jihadists, the BBS said quoting the president of the said association.
The BBS also pointed out that the Indian Express newspaper had reported that Wahhabism had infiltrated Sri Lanka. Almost all the staff members in the Muslim Section of the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation (SLBC), it is alleged, are followers of Wahhabism, and they use State property to propagate the religion. Those who are against this new development drew attention to the arson attack carried out by Wahhabism followers on the Thareekathul Mufliheen Meditation Centre at Kattankudy a few years back. The Urban Council in Kattankudy had ordered the dismantling of the Centre and declared it an unethical structure on December 12, 2006.
The Sunday Leader made several attempts to contact Minister Kabir Hashim in this regard, but failed. The newspaper also sought comments from several chief executives of Muslim banks in Sri Lanka who refused to comment. The Acting Commissioner of the Ministry of Buddha Sasana and Religious Affairs also refused to comment on this issue.