Sri Lankan author arrested 'for offending ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists'

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Colombo, Mar 29(ANI): 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, but has lived 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, called 'From Darkness to Light' and 'Questions and Answers', and was having them printed in Sri Lanka.

The arrest comes a week after protests by Buddhist nationalists prompted the Sri Lankan Government to refuse a visa to Senegalese-American singer Akon, who was due to perform in Colombo next month.

The Buddhist activists protested over a recent video of Akon, which showed bikini-clad women dancing by a pool with a Buddha statue in the background.

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," The Times quoted Deerazi, as saying on the BHRS web site. (ANI)

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