Monday, April 05, 2010

Detained Sri Lankan writer probed for radical links

A Sri Lankan woman taken into custody last month for writing books about her conversion to Islam for Buddhism is being investigated for possible links to Islamic extremists, police said Saturday.

Last weekend, police said the woman, identified as Malini Perera, was taken into custody under tough emergency laws over allegations of "anti-state" activities but they did not elaborate.

But on Saturday, police spokesman Prashantha Jayakody said Perera was being held while police investigate "possible links to Islamic militants."

"She has not been formally charged yet because police are still investigating the case," Jayakody told AFP.

He accused the writer of "insensitive religious writings."

The author, a native Sri Lankan who is resident in Bahrain, was detained while holidaying on the island after trying to mail copies of her books to undisclosed recipients abroad.

The books are titled "From Darkness to Light" and "Questions and Answers."

Perera's lawyer, Lakshan Dias, said the writer was a victim of religious intolerance.

"Her writings don't insult any religion. They're a collection of opinion pieces on the way Buddhism is being practised," Dias told AFP.

He rejected allegations that his client had any links to religious extremists.

Majority-Buddhist Sri Lanka projects itself as a secular country but is highly sensitive to any debate on Buddhism.

Last month, Sri Lanka refused a visa to US singer Akon after Buddhist monks and almost 12,000 people on social networking site Facebook complained about one of his videos featuring women in bikinis dancing near a Buddha statue.

Home to 20 million people, 70 percent of Sri Lankans practise Buddhism and live peacefully alongside others who follow Islam, Hinduism and Christianity.


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