Human rights activists have urged Sri Lankan authorities to free Sarah Malanie Perera who was arrested under the country’s stringent emergency laws last week for writing two books allegedly offensive to Buddhism.
Perera, a Sinhalese who converted from Buddhism to Islam more than 10 years ago, is a resident of Bahrain. She was on her way back to Bahrain from Colombo last week after spending three months here when she was arrested.
She compiled the two books written in Sinhalese while in Colombo and had got it printed here. According to reports, Perera was sending some copies through freight when she was apprehended.
The arrest of the 38-year-old author came in the same week the Sri Lankan government said it will not allow rapper and R&B singer Akon to perform in Colombo because one of his music videos was found to have demeaned Buddhism.
Police here have remained tight-lipped about Perera’s arrest. Police spokesperson, SSP P Jayakody, told HT that he was waiting to get more details from the concerned police officers. "I have asked for a report,’’ he said. The Bahrain-based Gulf Daily News reported that the Bahrain Human Rights Society (BHRS) secretary-general Dr Abdulla Al Deerazi has said that it would do everything it could to bring her back.
“First of all, Ms Perera accepted Islam on her own personal wish and no one forced her to do so. Conversion to another religion is based on personal choice and this choice must be respected. Secondly, there is something called freedom of opinion, if it’s not offending any religion. I believe the books written by Ms Perera are not against Buddhism,’’ the Gulf Daily News quoted Al Deerazi as saying.
The Gulf Daily News claimed that during her visit to Sri Lanka, Perera printed two books entitled From Darkness to Light and Questions and Answers in Sinhalese about her conversion to Islam and the original teachings of the Buddha.