Sri Lankan Islamic schools textbooks recommended killings of non-Muslim

Lankan Islam school textbooks prescribe killing those who offend the religion, says witness

by Saman Indrajith

There were Islamic schools textbooks which recommended death sentence for those offending Islam and those books in Tamil and Sinhala languages were published by the Educational Publications Department of the Ministry of Education, the Parliamentary Select Committee probing the Easter Sunday carnage was told yesterday.

Testifying before the PSC, Rishwin Ismeth, who identified himself as an atheist with death threats from Zahran Hashim’s group members for leaving his religion, said that he had complained about Zahran to the police in 2016. "I first informed the police that Zahran and his group were threatening to kill me and lodged a complaint with the Police Headquarters on July 20, 2016. On two occasions on July 21, 2017 and on August 26, two more complaints were made and statements were made. Nothing happened till the Easter Sunday carnage. In the aftermath of the attacks, Police contacted me on May 21, 2019 to check whether my address was correct. On May 21, I was asked to be present at Terrorist Investigation Division on May 27. There I was told that some suspects had confessed that they followed me. I provided some more information".

The witness was warned by the PSC not to reveal sensitive matters that would affect the ongoing investigations and requested media to refrain from publishing certain parts of the witness’ statement.

Asked for the reasons for death threats, Ismeth said that he campaigned against some teaching material published by the Department of Educational Publications which made it compulsory to kill Muslims who left their religion. In the school Islam text book for Grade 9 and 10 it was stated that those who left the religion should be killed. The book was published in 1982 and republished 1984.

Ismeth submitted to the PSC copies of Islam textbooks published in the years from 1980 to 1990 and a Sinhala language Islam text book in 2017 prescribing the same and said: "So, I do not need to do anything. The school itself has taught children to kill persons like me. This is not in Quran. When there are such teachings in the textbooks there is no need of bringing in IS ideology from Syria for people like Zahran to kill non-Muslims," he said.

Field Marshal Fonseka: So Zahran has acted according to the textbook.

The rest of the testimony was made in camera.