Controversy has erupted in the Indian subcontinent after a Pakistani cricketer “advised” a competitor from the Sri Lankan cricket team to convert to Islam. The people involved in the religious controversy are Pakistani batsman Ahmed Shehzad and veteran Sri Lankan batsman Tillakaratne Dilshan, reports NDTV.
The incident happened last Saturday after the completion of a one-day international match between Sri Lanka and Pakistan at Dambulla in Sri Lanka. After the match, as Shehzad and Dilshan walked back towards the dressing room, Shehzad is clearly audible telling Dilshan;
“If you are a non-Muslim and you turn Muslim, no matter whatever you do in your life, you go straight to heaven.”
To which Dilshan smiled and said something that wasn’t audible. In all likelihood, Dilshan, a devout Buddhist, might have not welcomed Shehzad’s comments.
Shehzad is later seen telling Dilshan;
“Then be ready for the fire.”
Watch the video clip of the incident below.
Following the incident, the Pakistani Cricket Board summoned Ahmed Shehzad to its headquarters on Lahore, Pakistan and sought an explanation from him. According to PCB general manager, Media, Agha Akbar;
“Ahmed has informed the PCB that it was his personal chat with Dilshan, and there was nothing more to it. What we understand is that no Sri Lanka Cricket official or our own manager lodged any complaint.”
He added that the Pakistan Cricket Board is nevertheless still investigating the matter.
Tillakaratne Dilshan is among the top batsmen Sri Lanka has produced. He was born to a Muslim father and a Buddhist mother. Raised as a Muslim, his original name was Tuwan Mohammed Dilshan. However, just before he entered the international cricketing field in 1999, he shed his Muslim name and changed his name to Tillakaratne Mudiyanselage Dilshan which is based on his ethnic Sinhalese-Buddhist identity. According to Dilshan’s coach Ranjan Paranavitana, who coached him from Dilshan’s childhood days, Dilshan and his siblings have been following Buddhism since their childhood.
The Sri Lankan cricket board has maintained a stoic silence on the issue and so has Dilshan. The comments by Shehzad comes at a time when Islamic extremists under the banner of the ISIS are propagating horrific violence in the war-torn regions of Iraq and Syria.
[Image Via Wikimedia Commons]