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New religious freedom law mooted to cover distortions

New religious freedom law mooted to cover distortions

30 May 2023

  • Stand-up comic remanded till 7 June

Minister for Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs Vidura Wickramanayaka stated that a new Act on religious freedom and the distortion of facts will be brought in the near future.

He further pointed out that the Police have, together with the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious, and Cultural Affairs, jointly initiated a special investigation on individuals who make statements that allegedly insult religions.

Also, Wickramanayaka emphasised that the arrest of stand-up comedian Nathasha Edirisooriya, who had recently been arrested by the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) over allegedly insulting religions, was carried out with the direct intervention of the Ministry.

“We have prepared a programme together with the Police to prevent such actions. I saw somewhere that it was said that the Ministry is sleeping.  No, the Ministry is awake, around the clock. That is why measures were taken against them as soon as such things were released on the internet. Hopefully, in the future, a Bill will be brought to Parliament on religious freedom and the distortion of facts.”

Edirisooriya has been ordered to be remanded in custody until 7 June, after being produced before the Colombo Fort Magistrate’s Court. This order has been issued by Colombo Fort Magistrate Thilina Gamage on 28 May.

She was arrested at the Katunayake Bandaranaike International Airport early 28 May morning, while attempting to go overseas.

The CID, on 27 May, received a complaint pertaining to a woman who had allegedly insulted religions including Buddhism and Christianity during a stand-up comedy show recently held at a leading school in Colombo.

Edirisooriya and the individual who had posted the relevant video online later publicly apologised for the statements made.

Despite their apology, several parties severely criticised the jokes made during Edirisooriya’s segment, claiming that she had used “derogatory” language.

Thus, a complaint had been filed with the CID, calling for the arrest of the youth, claiming that she had insulted Buddhism.


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