Hampshire & Isle of Wight

Dalai Lama defies protesters to open Aldershot Buddhist centre

The Dalai Lama Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The spiritual leader faced protesters who were chanting 'Dalai Lama stop lying'

The Dalai Lama defied protesters as he opened a Buddhist community centre.

The demonstrators, who are Shugden Buddhists, chanted "Dalai Lama stop lying" as he arrived at the complex in Aldershot, Hampshire.

In response, the Dalai Lama said he had turned away from the Shugden form of Buddhism because it had denied him "religious freedom".

He blessed the site, which includes a monastery and is billed as the UK's first Buddhist community centre.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption The International Shugden Community accused the Dalai Lama of "religious persecution"

The development is located in Aldershot as the area was identified as having the largest population of Buddhists in the UK, and has strong links to the Gurkhas and Nepalese community.

Centre spokesman Damar Ghale said they were "deeply honoured" by the visit of the exiled Tibetan spiritual leader.

Glastonbury visit

A spokesman for the International Shugden Community said there were more than 700 protesters campaigning against "religious persecution".

They say the Dalai Lama has suppressed their form of Buddhism.

Supporters for the Dalai Lama mounted a counter-protest.

Hampshire Police declined to confirm how many protesters were involved.

Image copyright Press Association
Image caption The Dalai Lama gave a talk on Buddhism in the 21st Century after blessing the centre

During the visit the Dalai Lama called for an end to religious division, saying "killing in the name of religion is totally wrong".

He spoke following Friday's attacks in Kuwait, France and Tunisia, where as many as 30 British tourists were killed by an Islamist radical.

After opening the centre, the Dalai Lama gave a talk on Buddhism in the 21st Century at the ground of Aldershot FC.

On Sunday, the Dalai Lama's visited the Glastonbury festival where singer Patti Smith gave him a hug and presented him with a cake on the Pyramid stage.

He will celebrate his 80th birthday on 6 July.

Related Topics

More on this story

Related Internet links

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external Internet sites