Saturday, May 16, 2009

Tiger supporters set fire to Toronto Mahavihara

Madeleine White
Staff Reporter

A Buddhist monk believes an early morning fire at a temple in Scarborough is related to the ongoing conflict in Sri Lanka.

Police and the Ontario Fire Marshal's Office are investigating after the Sri Lankan Buddhist temple's east emergency entrance was found burning around 4:30 a.m.

Three monks were in the building, located on Kingston Rd. just south of Military Trail Rd., and escaped uninjured to a smaller building beside the temple after calling police.

Nalaka, a resident monk, said he believes the incident is connected to the war in Sri Lanka. He also said the monks have received threats in the last week.

A former resident, who goes to the temple, said the incident has caused upset in the Sinhalese community.

"Every single Sinhalese person in Toronto is calling each other right now. It's very alarming," said the resident who did not want to be named.

Police would not confirm whether they believe the fire is an arson, but an official with Toronto Fire Services said they are treating it as suspicious. Damage is estimated at $10,000.

The fire comes less than a week after the main Buddhist temple of the Sri Lankan Buddhist community in France was attacked on May 10. Extensive damage was caused during the incident. The Asian Tribune is reporting monks and community leaders believe it was organized by the international network of the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam.

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