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ET EDIT-Condemn the Terror Strikes In Sri Lanka Wake up to the dangers of religious hatred

April 22, 2019 05:47 AM


Condemn the Terror Strikes In Sri Lanka
Wake up to the dangers of religious hatred
We stand with the people of Sri Lanka in condemning the terrorist attacks that have killed more than 200 people and injured more than twice as many, and support the government of India’s offer of solidarity and support. That churches were targeted on the day of Easter Sunday when Christians commemorate the resurrection of Christ on the third day of his crucifixion shows that the purpose of the attack was to target Christians. Bomb blasts at luxury hotels show the intent to hurt foreign tourists. The attack must be understood as one designed to attack Christians, foreigners and the Sri Lankan economy, in which tourism plays a vital part. While the police have not named any organisation as being involved, it has confirmed the use of suicide bombers, indicating the involvement of fanatic conviction of the kind shown by religious extremists and the Tamil Tigers.

Christians are less than 8% of Sri Lanka’s population, mostly Tamils, Sinhalese and those of the animist Veddas who had been converted by the Portuguese, with a sprinkling of Portuguese-origin Burghers. Christians have been active in politics, but not as a group pressing for any particular Christian cause. The terrorist targeting of Christian, therefore, would appear to have a non-national context, apart from challenging the authority of the Sri Lankan state. In any case, this gruesome attack speaks of the mindless violence some are capable of committing, driven by hatred towards other human beings simply because they are grouped as a religion different from the haters’ own faith. To Indians, who have been growing inured to religion-based animosity as a common currency of politics, the Sri Lankan violence comes as a timely reminder of where such politics would lead the country to. This is not where we want to go.

Religions are trans-national. As is religion-based hatred. However, so also trans-national is the message of fraternity that transcends divisions based on whatever identity that ultimately underpins faith, science and the quest for affirming our humanity. That should guide us, not schism

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