Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Author Arrested In Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has been in the limellight lately. Just a few days ago, a singer was barred from entering the country due to an "offensive" video and now the country is on the news again for arresting an author.

Sarah Malini Perera, a Sri Lankan author who has written two books about her conversion from Buddhism to Islam, has been arrested for apparently offending ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists.

According to the police, Sarah, who was born in Sri Lanka, has been living in Bahrain since 1985 and converted to Islam in 1999, was arrested last week under the country’s strict emergency laws.

They declined to provide details about Sarah’s offence, but suggested that her books were deemed to have caused offence to ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists.

The 38-year-old writer’s family members claim that she was detained for trying to mail copies of her books overseas.

Sarah’s sister has reportedly said that the police had acted on a tip-off by a member of a Buddhist nationalist party, who worked at the cargo company handling the books.

She added that Sarah had recently completed two books on her conversion to Islam. The two books are " From Darkness To Light " and " Questions and Answers " and were printed in Sri Lanka.

"Our lawyer said the police were unable to prove any charges against her, but they didn't allow him to visit her in jail."

Police reportedly asked Sri Lanka's most senior Buddhist to read the book, who confirmed there were no offensive words against Buddha.

Discover Islam earlier issued an international appeal to human rights groups to help secure her release, after being contacted by her family.

The group's Sharia adviser and director Shaikh Essam Ishaq said some of Bahrain's MPs were in talks with the Sri Lankan government to try and negotiate her freedom.

"They are optimistic something positive would happen and they would release her soon," he said.

Sri Lankan honorary consul P B Higgoda declined to comment until being given the green light from the government.

Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) secretary-general Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi earlier said it would do everything it could to bring her back.

However, relatives in Bahrain fear the Sri Lankan may not be allowed to return here as her residence permit expired on March 24.

Ms Perera came to Manama in 1985 to assist her elder sister Mariam, who owned a gifts and flowers shop called Madhuri in The Palace Hotel, Adliya.

She latterly worked as a teacher at the Child Development Centre, Juffair.

Born and brought up in a Buddhist family, she embraced Islam in 1999 after studying religion at Discover Islam.

Her father Norbet Perera, mother Soma and sisters Padma, Rasa, Padmani and Malanie, later also converted to Islam at separate times.

Ms Perera is still being held in Mirihana Police Station, Colombo, while investigations continue

( i think the authority should just ban the books if they had discovered offensive contents instead of arresting her )

Meanwhile, the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) secretary-general Dr. Abdulla Al Deerazi has urged Sri Lankan authorities to free Sarah.

“There is something called freedom of opinion, if it’s not offending any religion. I believe the books written by Sarah are not against Buddhism,”
( Oh really ? Then what about the Danish cartoons and most recently the Swedish cartoons ? )