ECONOMYNEXT- A minister in Sri Lanka called out a nationalist teacher who has destroyed a child’s property in a bid to enforce a boycott of products made businesses connected to the island’s minority Muslim community.
Atlas Axillia, a stationery controlled by Sri Lanka’s publicly traded Hemas group is one of several firms with Muslim shareholders that have become the target of Sinhalese nationalists.
"Stop corrupting young minds!" Economic Reforms and Public Distribution Minister Harsha de Silva said in a twitter.com post.
"At Badarawatte Parakrama Maha Vidyalaya, Gampaha [3,000+ kids], a racist ‘teacher’ shouted at a kid for bringing an Atlas Chooty pen."
"He broke pen in two n threw it away yelling no Muslim products.
"I lodged complaint w Min @AkilaViraj n Sec Education."
An Education Ministry official told EconomyNext that at the moment there are no plans to raise awareness against racism cross the education system.
Some students who have been through the school system say anti-minority hate is systematically taught in schools within and without a centralized syllabus.
Meanwhile, de Silva said business chambers must work to stop racism.
"This is just one of many disgusting examples of how racists are trying to destroy our society amply supported by cowardly competitors," he said.
"While the Min of Education deals w the errant employees @CeylonChamber n other chambers must intervene to stop racist attacks on businesses."
A Ceylon Chamber of Commerce spokesperson said that it intends to start its anti-racism campaign with a public event held next week.
Atlas Axilia, one of Sri Lanka’s top stationery producers with a market share claim of 50 percent, said that competitors and those with vested interests were conducting a grassroot campaign on teachers and store owners to boycott the firm’s products.
Students were even threatened with being excluded from class if they continued to carry Atlas products.
The ubiquitous Atlas Chooty pen is affordable, as its price has remained at 10 rupees for many years, despite runaway inflation and currency collapses triggered by a soft-pegged central bank.
The firm had said that it had complained to police about boycotts and hate speech posts targeting Atlas on social media, but was not aware of any legal action taken against racist teachers.
The firm said that it was disappointed in the education system which was being used to spread racism. (Colombo/Jul10/2019)