Bahrain MP to highlight author's plight with Sri Lanka
Mar 31, 2010
An MP is planning to take up the case of a Bahrain-based author arrested in Sri Lanka with the Foreign Minister.

Sarah Malanie Perera, detained in the capital Colombo for allegedly offending the spiritual leader of Buddhism, is still being held without charge 10 days after being taken into custody.

The authorities have yet to give precise details of the her offence, but it is understood two of her recently published books offended ethnic Sinhalese Buddhists, who account for about 70 per cent of Sri Lanka's 20 million population.

Lawyers representing Ms Perera filed a case at the Supreme Court in Colombo yesterday demanding her immediate release, but it stalled as police never brought her to court.

The 38-year-old, who previously converted to Islam, was detained on March 20 after writing two books in Sinhalese, allegedly offensive to Lord Buddha.

She had been due to leave her homeland and return to Bahrain after a three-month holiday on the day of her arrest.

MP Ibrahim Mohammed Busandal is now planning to highlight the issue to the Foreign Minister Shaikh bin Ahmed Al Khalifa.

He is spearheading Ms Perera's case with the help of other MPs and Discover Islam.

"The problem is that we are not entitled to call the embassy directly but through our Foreign Ministry," said Mr Busandal.

"I haven't spoken to anyone at the ministry, but I am planning to meet the Foreign Minister and talk on this matter.

"From a human rights point of view, she was detained for her opinion, which is absolutely unfair.

"As she is a Bahrain resident and spent many years here, we need to take action for her release."

Ms Perera's sister Mariam earlier claimed police had forcibly removed the author's headscarf and made a video, which was being played on all Sri Lankan television channels.

She revealed that the family had already paid Sri Lankan rupees 90,000 (BD300) to lawyers.

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

Ms Perera came to Manama in 1985 to assist her elder sister Mariam, who owned a gifts and flowers shop in Adliya, and latter 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 converted to Islam at separate times.

Ms Perera's books From Darkness to Light and Questions and Answers focused on her conversion to Islam and the original teachings of Buddha.

She was reportedly detained after trying to send copies to Bahrain through a cargo company.

Courtesy: GDN