Saffron Revolution

Cultural pollution such as Coca-Cola and McDonalds will be spurned if the monks campaigning for this weeks elections in Sri Lanka have their way.

They also say they will take sexually explicit movies off national TV as part of their avowed bid to save Sri Lankas heritage.

Crime against women is increasing because television and movies influence our youngsters to rape and other immoral acts and violence, Buddhist monk Athuraliya Ratana says from a makeshift platform in this industrial town.

There will be no Coca-Cola and McDonalds culture, he promises to chants of sadhu, sadhu (saint, saint) from the crowd of 2,500.rn

Ratana is a leading figure in the National Heritage Party (NHP).

Its aim is to create a righteous state and the party has entered Fridays polls with an all-clergy list of 262 monks contesting the 225 seats up for grabs.

The traditionalist message is popular, particularly among youngsters in this country of 19 million, of whom nearly 70 per cent are Buddhists.

The monks see the two main parties of President Chandrika Kumaratunga and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe as corrupt and decadent and responsible for the degeneration of moral values. rn

With the main political groups split, opinion polls suggest the monks could get a small but crucial number of seats – sufficient to tip the scales. (Source: AFP)